Teeny Houses At Vauxhall Park Model Village

By Laura Reynolds Last edited 25 months ago
Teeny Houses At Vauxhall Park Model Village

Three of the houses and one of the smaller outbuildings. We couldn't help notice the face of an animal, perhaps a bear or a tiger, in the painted design in the house on the right.

Rumours abound that a model village exists in Vauxhall Park, yet very little is known about it. In fact, calling it a village is a bit of a stretch - hamlet would be a better term for managing expectations, we think.

Six houses, each 2ft high, and three smaller outbuildings, sit amongst flower beds in an area no bigger then 10 metres by 10 metres. All houses are mock tudor, white with black beams and occasional elements of orange brick, except one, set on its own, which is more predominantly orange. There's no obvious explanation for this one straying from the default — perhaps it's the village pub?

Despite the close quarters of the houses, the areas feels more like a smattering of individual houses that happen to have bumped into each other than a village. They're all identical — except the orange one — but beyond this, there's little to tie them together except a concrete path. They look good for their age (they were made in 1949 and restored in 2001) but something about them put us in mind of the animated French village in Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

This house sits back from the rest, and has a different design and style.

The houses are brutalist, not in the way that Barbican is brutalist, but brutal in the sense that the houses lack the delicacy or intricacy that one expects from a model village. The colours are harsh, the red roofs particularly shiny.

If you're looking for somewhere to play giants, this is not the place for you. Concrete paths between the houses exist as if the area was once explorable, but access is now prohibited by railings on one side and flora on the other. The odd rogue squirrel, uninhibited by human boundaries, breaks through, but other than that, interaction with the model houses is out of the question, for their own protection, no doubt.

Their position, overshadowed by all manner of trees, makes you feel as though you've discovered something special and secret. Despite being on the main footpath through the park, there are plenty of other things to distract your attention as you round the corner — a fountain and the children's park being top of the list — so it wouldn't be difficult to cross the park without noticing these modest dwellings amongst the flowers at all.

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Overlooked by the shininess of the St George Wharf Tower and a couple of other high rise blocks of flats, with South West trains crammed full of suburban commuters whizzing past on viaducts in the middle distance, it does make you think; if these six humble abodes went on the market, they may well be the only affordable houses left in zone 1.

In terms of visiting, Vauxhall Model Village is best left as a nice surprise that you could stumble across if you happen to find yourself in the area, rather than something to set out to explore. If you do find yourself in Vauxhall Park on a sunny day, the human sundial just a few metres away in the Lavender Garden is worth a visit. Stand on the stone in the middle, and the sun and your shadow will join forces to tell you the time. Alas, it was as grey as a badger on the day we visited, but the girl on the poster at the entrance to the park seemed to be having a whale of a time.

Vauxhall Model Village is free to visit and is open during the hours that the park is open.

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Last Updated 03 June 2015

Tim Dunn

Hmmm. It's not true to say that "very little is known about it". Lots is known about it.

The buildings were made by Edgar Wilson in 1943-48, as a gift to the people of Lambeth. They were all set out in Brockwell Park, where a couple still reside today. A few were transferred to Vauxhall c.1952 as part of the landscaping improvements, and they're the ones on display. A local chap, Nobby Clarke, restored them in 2002 and they're fairly regularly maintained now. They're not quite as fine as they once were, and there were once rather more details surrounding them, but they're gone now.

There were at least two other Wilson model villages built: one in Finsbury Park and another that is now on public display in Australia. From the Brockwell Park team's newsletter:

"The final village that Edgar made is part of an
extraordinary story that was even recorded in an article in the South London
Press in 1948. He was so touched by the
food parcels that were sent from Melbourne in Australia to London that he wrote
to show his personal gratitude by offering them a model Tudor English village (as
a reminder of its part in the war effort)
for their city. And they
accepted! So the last village Edgar made, was crated up and shipped by a navy
vessel to Melbourne – who – it must be said – have put us Brits to shame with
the way they have looked after it and treasured, it all these years. If you Google ‘Tudor model village’ - one of
the first entries that you can access is a brief history of their village in Fitzroy
Gardens."

The plinths that you can see the houses on were not intended to be above ground - they're there to ensure they hold together as foundations and can be removed for maintenance.

Koola

As they are in Zone 1, the selling price for each of the tiny houses is liable to be in excess of £400,000.