The Bull & Last

Pub & Hotel

As I came down the Highgate Hill I met the sun’s bravado, And saw below me, fold on fold, Grey to pearl and pearl to gold, This London like a land of old, The land of Eldorado.

Henry Howarth Bashford

‘’This is like a baptism of construction’’ One of the Engineers said as he sipped a black coffee, one dreary morning in February 2018 at our Studio in North London, He was explaining that with-in this project we have pretty much every single possible type of construction that is practised in present day London.

We could not agree with him more, the refurbishment of the Bull & Last Pub has the following: Basement dig, Concrete ground beams, Cellar hatch piston lift, Under Pinning, Below Ground Drainage, water proofing, new commercial kitchen, Sumps, pumps, Cold Rooms, Dumb waiters, Extract ventilation, Fire Curtains, Beer runs, Bar, Restaurant, Hotel, Loft extension and finally new build residential apartments all in one drawing.

That’s just from a construction point of view, this project covers so much more from a historical and sustainability point of view, we worked with Camden Planning Department on this historic corner of London will hopefully be persevered for another 300 years. We have re-instated the pub as an Old Coaching INN as it once was in the 18th Century.

Located on the edge of Hampstead Heath and loved by locals, the pub, first mentioned in 1721 started life as a coaching inn with a drinking trough for horses out front. It burnt down in a fire but was rebuilt in 1883 and sat on the route Northwards from London. The name supposedly due to “The Bull” having once been the most northern pub on the road as you left London, so the coachman would shout “The Bull, and last stop”.

We were introduced to the owners of the pub through a mutual acquaintance who is a regular in the pub and when they mentioned they needed an architect we went to meet them to discuss the project. Working with the client we developed a brief based on preserving the pub and reinstating it as a coaching inn.

The refurbishment involved the demolition of the existing kitchen and toilet block to the side of the building and relocating these facilities to the basement of the pub to allow for two new duplex flats to be constructed in their place.

With the aim of preserving the bar and dining rooms to maintain the feel of the pub, the challenge we faced was co-ordinating the vast array of services one needs to run a modern-day pub and hotel but concealing it within the shell of the 19th century building. Ventilation, beer, wine and dumbwaiters rise up through the building and out though vents that are made to look like a Victorian chimney. A new loft extension, hidden from view, was permitted by infilling the existing butterfly roof, allowing the upper two levels to form a brand new 6-bedroom boutique hotel.

We presented the idea of creating the rooms inspired by the incredible historical characters that give a richness to the area. Each room taking inspiration from these colourful characters. Custom joinery was integrated into the hotel areas with hidden jib doors and desk consoles adorned with wall panelling to match the pub below and give an elegance to each room. We had the pleasure of staying the night already and can’t recommend it enough.


Richard Chivers
Joe Howard
Serge Kouperschmidt

The Keats Room

JOHN KEATS (1795-1821)

John Keats was an English Romantic poet and one of the principalfigures of the Romantic movement, despite his works having beenin publication for only a short time before his death at the age of 25. He originally trained as a surgeon and apothecarist, but relinquishedthe profession in order to write poetry – his first volume of poemswas published in March 1817. In April that year, he moved withhis brothers into rooms at 1 Well Walk, in the village of Hampstead.The house was close to his friend and fellow poet Leigh Hunt,and others from his liberal circle in Hampstead, as well as to Coleridge,respected elder of the first wave of Romantic poets, who at that time lived in Highgate.

A year later, after the death of his brother Tom, he moved to hisfriend Charles Browns house, Wentworth Place (now Keats House).On 11 April 1818, Keats and Coleridge took a long walk together on Hampstead Heath. In a letter to his brother George, Keats wrote that theytalked about ‘a thousand things…nightingales, poetry, poetical sensation, metaphysics’. He developed tuberculosis in 1820 and died in Rome.

“O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:.”


The Ellis Room

RUTH ELLIS (1826-1955)

Ruth Ellis born Ruth Neilson, was the last woman to be executedin Britain, after being convicted of the murder of her lover,David Blakely, a racing car driver. From a humble Welsh background,Ellis was drawn into the world of London nightclub hostessing,which led to a chaotic series of brief relationships.

On Easter Sunday, 10th April 1955, Ellis shot Blakely dead whenhe walked out of the Magdala public house in Hampstead, and surrendered herself immediately to the police (this is a pubthe client nearly took instead of the Bull and Last). At her trial, she tookfull responsibility for the murder, and her composure, both in courtand in the cells, was noted in the press, though it is now thoughther other lover, Desmond Cussen, may have played a role inthe killing. She was hanged at Holloway Prison on the 13th July 1955at the age of 28 at HM Prison Holloway.

The Somerset Room


Lady Isabella Caroline Somerset (Lady Henry Somerset) was a Britishphilanthropist, campaigner for woman’s rights and social reform,and a temperance leader. Daughter of the wealthy 3rd Earl of Somer.lord-in-waiting to Queen Victoria, she had a privileged upbringing.

An arranged marriage to Lord Henry Somerset at the age of 22 ledto separation soon after the birth of her son, and Lady Henry movedto Eastnor Castle in the Malvern Hills, where she devoted the rest of her life to the temperance mission, social welfare, and the Colonyfor women Inebriates, which she opened in 1895. It was a facility intended to rehabilitate alcoholics, which she saw as her most importanttask. In 1913, the readers of the London Evening News votedLady Isabella as the woman they would most like as the first femialprime minister of the United Kingdom. She wrote a fictional novel, Under the Arch, which was published in 1906.

The Faraday Room


Michael Faraday was a self-educated English physicist, chemist and inventor who pioneered electromagnetism and electro-chemistry. His keydiscoveries include the principles underlying electro-chemistryinduction, diamagnetism and electrolysis, and he helped popularisescience through a series of public lectures. When the British government asked him to advise on the production of chemical weapons for use inthe Crimean War (1853-1856), Faraday declined, citing ethical reasons.

Faraday died at Hampton Court on 25th August 1867, at the age of 75.Some years before, he had turned down an offer of burial in WestminsterAbbey upon his death, but he has a memorial plaque there, near Isaac Newton’s Tomb. Faraday was interred in the dissenters (non-Anglican) section of Highgate cemetery.

“Nothing is too wonderful to be true if it be consistent with the laws of nature.”


The Dido Room


Dido was the illegitimate daughter of Maria Belle, an African womanin the British West Indies, thought to be a slave, and Sir John Lindsay, an officer of the British Royal Navy who was stationed there.Lindsay took Belle with him when he returned to England in 1765,entrusting her care to his uncle William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield,and his wife Elizabeth Murray, who had no children of their own.

The Murrays educated and raised Belle, together with their niece,Lady Elizabeth Murray (whose mother had died), Bringing up Belleas a lady rather than a slave, though her exact position in the householdremains unclear. Belle lived at Kenwood House for thirty years, untilLord Mansfield’s death. In his will of 1793, Lord Mansfield wrote,‘I assert to Dido her freedom’ and left her an outright sum and an annuity.

The Mansfield Room


William Murray was an eminent British barrister, politician and judge. noted for his reform of English Law. Arguably the most powerful British jurist of the century, as Lord Chief Justice his rulings reflected the Age of Enlightenment and he moved England on the road to the abolition of slavery and the slave trade.

Murray bought Kenwood House in 1754 and spent the latter stages of his life there, where he invested most of his time maintaining and expanding the grounds. In the summer, he was visited by groupsof barristers who would inform him of the goings-on at court. He took Dido Belle (see Below) under his wing, and she lived with him and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Finch, Through out her childhood.

“As mathematical and absolute certainty is seldom to be attained in human affairs, reason and public utility require that judges and all mankind in forming their opinions of the truth of facts should be regulated by the superior number of the probabilities on the one side or the other whether the amount of these probabilities be expressed in words and arguments or by figures and numbers.”