In the early 1890s at the eastern end of Church Row, stood Oriel House, and at the western end there was St John’s Church and the Frognal Estate. Church Row was in essence an elongated square. It was devoid of traffic as it was only accessible by the very narrow Church Lane and Little Church Row.

These narrow streets together with adjacent courts and alleys, were a far cry from the grandeur of the rest of Hampstead. In the 1890s they, together with Oriel House, were demolished, allowing Heath Street to be extended to meet Fitzjohn’s Avenue.

2 Church Row considered the Row’s most imposing house, and the Davenport’s residence of many years, had escaped these “improvements”. However in 1898 it and two adjacent smaller houses were demolished, to make way for what are now Gardnor Mansions.

2 Church RowGM

Whilst the development was questionable at the time, the building has come to be appreciated. With its crisp warm red bricks, it is now singled out by Camden Council as a building that makes a positive contribution to the special character and appearance of the area.

Famous Gardnor Mansion’s Residents include: Margaret Llewelyn Davies; Dame Gracie Fields; and Ronald David Laing.

Margaret Llewelyn Davies (1861- 1944) was the general secretary of the Co-operative Women’s Guild from 1899 to 1921. From 1908 the office of the Guild was 28 Church Row. During Margaret’s tenure the Guild became far more politically active and many of her extended family were supporters of the Suffragettes. Through her brother, she is the aunt of Llewelyn Davies’ boys who were the inspiration for J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan.


Gracie Fields (1898-1979) was an English actress, singer and star of the both cinema and theatre, lived for a time in Gardnor Mansions. She also had a house in Frognal Way, but spent a good deal of her later life living on Capri.


Ronald David Laing (1927-89) usually referred to as R D Laing, lived at 8 Gardnor Mansions. He was a Scottish psychiatrist who wrote extensively on mental-illness and psychosis. Laing's views were influenced by existential philosophy (the fundametal idea is that everything starts with the human subject) and ran counter to the orthodoxy of the day by taking the patients 'feelings' as reality. Laing never denied the existence of mental illness, but viewed it in a radically different light from his contemporaries. His most important work was "The Divided Self" published in 1960.