200 years ago this area was completely rural, with woods and farmland. The Finch family, one of the two important local families, bought up several pieces of land to make the Dollis Hill Estate. This included two farms, with the main farmhouse north of Dollis Hill Lane and the smaller one opposite it on the south. The farms around Willesden were well known for their hay, grown for the horses of London, and there were dairy farms producing milk.In 1825 the family had enough money to replace the smaller farmhouse with a new house, named Dollis Hill House.
In 1881 Lord Tweedmouth’s daughter and her husband, Lord and Lady Aberdeen, moved in and they used it as a summer residence for 16 years. The Aberdeens were old friends of William Gladstone, who was Prime Minister for much of this time, and he frequently stayed with them for weekends, and sometimes for longer periods. Dollis Hill was particularly quiet and restful for a place so close to London, and Mr Gladstone, who was in his seventies by then, used to say that he felt better there than at any other place.
In 1897 Lord Aberdeen was appointed Governor-General of Canada and the Aberdeens moved out.
In 1899 Willesden Urban District Council decided that they needed to acquire another public open space before all the land was built over. The south of Dollis Hill Lane were bought from Robert Finch, who continued to farm the land to the north of the lane. William Gladstone had died the year before, so they decided to name the park in his honour, the park was opened by Lord Aberdeen on 25th May 1901.
Hugh Gilzean-Reid occupied the house after the Aberdeens moved out. He was a wealthy newspaper proprietor, and made some extensions. He continued to live in the house after it had been bought by the council, and he invited Mark Twain, the American author of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, to stay in the summer of 1900. Twain wrote that he had “never seen any place that was so satisfactorily situated, with its noble trees and stretch of country, and everything that went to make life delightful, and all within a biscuit’s throw of the metropolis of the world.” “There is no suggestion of city here; it is country, pure and simple, and as still and reposeful as is the bottom of the sea.” He later wrote “Dollis Hill comes nearer to being a paradise than any other home I ever occupied”.
On November 2011 Dollis Hill House demolition started. A very sad moment of Brent History turning into pieces.