Mount Anvil trains Labrador to sniff out damp

On its landmark regeneration project Hampstead Manor, Mount Anvil went to painstaking lengths to ensure the heritage of the site was preserved.

Hampstead Manor was built in 1843 for John Teil, a wealthy Englishman who made his fortune in Kidderpore, near Calcutta. Because of the significance of the site, Mount Anvil sought advice from heritage experts including the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) and plans to host training days on site for heritage building experts.

In a particularly innovative move, a specially trained black Labrador was used to precisely locate any areas of damp, allowing the surveyors to construct an intricate ‘map’ of places to repair, without having to remove delicate and valuable panels in the process.

After Teil’s death, the Greek Revival mansion was acquired by the founders of Westfield College, a pioneering women’s educational establishment specialising in botany, in 1889. Its illustrious history also includes visits by several members of the Royal Family, including HM Queen Mary, Princess Alice Countess of Athlone and HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

In addition to Kidderpore Hall, the regeneration includes four further Grade II listed buildings added on during the College’s history on the site, until it was merged with Queen Mary University and the combined college relocated to its Mile End campus in 1992. Students continued to live on the Westfield campus until Mount Anvil acquired the site in 2014.

The scheme will officially launch in mid-September, and will create 156 new homes, arranged over 13 separate buildings, restoring the five Grade II listed buildings already on site.

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