This is a little story about The Holme, an opulent premises in a sensational location on the Inner Circle of Regent’s Park, London NW1. This home is distinctly not your average house. You may get an idea of that fact not only from the images here but given that its present residents, holding the land on a lease from the Crown Commission, are apparently wealthy Saudis.
The Holme means ‘River Island’ in Saxon. It was built in 1818 and an architectural critic named Ian Nairn once wrote, perhaps with some hyperbole but nevertheless it’s a good line: “If you want a definition of western civilisation in a single view, then here it is.” There are three views here, plus the one on the Holme page (sorry!), and I hope they give you some idea of what he meant.
If I may quote from a booklet called London Gardens Open for Charity, this is what you get from visit to The Holme. “A four-acre garden filled with interesting and unusual plants. Sweeping lakeside lawns intersected by islands of herbaceous beds. Extensive rock garden with waterfall, stream and pool. Formal flower garden with unusual annual and half-hardy plants, sunken lawn, fountain pool and arbour. Gravel paths and some steps which gardeners will help wheelchair users to negotiate.” There is also a tennis court, hard not grass, but (if I may use a golfing term here) that is out-of-bounds for visitors.
The grounds are open to visitors on two weekends a year, one in July and one in August. I’m afraid it’s never going to be a case of ‘anyone for tennis?’ but there are less pleasurable ways of idling away an hour or so on a lazy mid-summer’s afternoon.