Conflict Over the Future of Athlone House
By Simon__Lee | Monday, February 21, 2011, 14:27
For those who don’t know it, Athlone House is one of the landmarks of Hampstead Heath. Built in 1872, it is one of the more majestic (and sometimes sinister) sights on the Heath. Despite being difficult to get to (it was used as a nursing home until 2004, and since then has been kept sectioned off), it’s a fantastic piece of architecture. Just check out some of it’s sights and gardens in our gallery.
The Front of Athlone House
However, a battle is raging over the future of Athlone House. The house is currently owned by an unnamed individual who wishes to replace the house with one of his own design. This has been met with opposition from lovers of the Heath, residents of the local areas (Hampstead and Highgate) and most impressively, Camden Council.
The opposition is understandable. Athlone House is a historic building and, once demolished, Hampstead will be robbed of yet another of its historic monuments. However, it’s easy to understand the other side of the argument. The building isn’t currently being used for anything and surely some would argue that the rightful owner is entitled to do as they wish with the property?
An interesting point is a certain Harry Hallowes who lives at the bottom of Athlone House’s grounds. Originally an Irish tramp, Hallowes has lived in an area of the grounds since 1986. Having lived there for 25 years, he is the rightful owner and would be entitled to sell the property for a reported two million. He has no intention however of doing so. Whether this is because of eccentricity, or respect and love for the Heath is unknown (I shall endeavour to find out), but maybe the owner of Athlone House should take a leaf from Harry’s book…