George Eliot wrote The Mill on the Floss while living in the house
Images courtesy of Savills Putney
March 10, 2020
The Victorian villa that was home to Mary Ann Evans – more famously known by her pen name George Eliot who wrote the classic English novels Middlemarch, The Mill on the Floss and Silas Marner - has come up for sale. Holly Lodge at 31 Wimbledon Park Road, Wandsworth is being marketed by Savills’ Putney branch for just over £2.5 million.
According to Land Registry figures the house was last sold in December 2006 for £1,200,000 and has benefited from significant price rises in the area as well as sympathetic renovation.
George Eliot wrote novels throughout the 19th Century and her home is reported to have become a meeting place for writers and thinks of the era. She was born in Warwickshire in 1819 and lived in Coventry until 1849. This was followed by a spell travelling in Europe before she finally settled in London.
The novelist lived at Holly Lodge from 1859-60 and it’s thought that she completed The Mill on The Floss during her time there. She settled at the villa with her long-term partner George Lewes, who was estranged from his wife but unable to get a divorce. The pair rode out the scandal caused by them openly living together and expected to spend many years at Holly Lodge, with Eliot describing the house as: “Very comfortable, with far more of vulgar indulgences in it than I ever expected to have again; but you must not imagine it a snug place, just peeping above the holly bushes. Imagine it rather as a tall cake, with a low garnish of holly and laurel.”
However, by the autumn of 1860 Eliot and Lewes had moved to Marylebone, which they found more convenient, and eventually bought a large house near Regent’s Park as success brought with it fame and fortune.
The listed house is now on the market for the first time in 14 years. Marketed at a guide price of £2,650,000, Holly Lodge offers almost 3,500 square feet which are described by the agent as: “A stunning, beautifully arranged and presented, unusually wide period house (approximately 3,468 sq ft) with a very interesting history, off-street parking and a wonderful 75’ garden.”
Holly Lodge was the first house in South London to be marked with an official blue plaque and the first to be dedicated to a woman, according to English Heritage. It is Grade II listed and is noted for its mid-19th Century yellow stock brick and stuccoed Doric porch.
In 2010 a developer attempted to build a block of flats on the land occupied by the Honda garage on West Hill Road. Following a very vocal local campaign protesting against the destruction of unspoilt views across south London from the back of Holly Lodge, the plans didn’t come to fruition.