Raleigh Court, Crystal Palace SE19
Apartment block forming part of Dulwich Wood Park estate; winner of Civic Trust Award 1964
Architect: Austin Vernon & Partners
Year built: 1959
I’ve been contemplating a move to Crystal Palace for a while: it’s leafy, only half an hour from my office, relatively affordable (though probably not for long) and most importantly of all, seems to be peppered with modernist properties such as this Austin Vernon & Partners-designed estate. Raleigh Court is one of seven high-rise apartment blocks clustered on a hilly patch of land halfway between Crystal Palace and Gipsy Hill. The apartment blocks, together with some similar-looking townhouses at the foot of the hill, form part of the Dulwich Wood Park Estate, a collection of developments built in South East London in the late 1950s.
The apartment blocks are not Grade-listed but efforts seem to have been made (most likely by the Dulwich Estate which owns and maintains the Dulwich Wood Park Estate and a militant Residents’ Association) to preserve the original character of the grounds and the exterior facing elements of the flats: there’s a notable absence of uPVC windows and things like door fittings appear to be original. The heavily stylised communal areas, decorated in various shades of green, 1950s patterned tiling and teak panelling, have also been preserved but could in all honesty do with a bit of a spruce up: the overall appearance is retro and shabby rather than glamorous. The same goes for the original, slightly juddering 1950s lift.
The flat that I viewed was a large 2-bed on the 6th floor. It was laid out in the standard configuration for 2-beds on the estate: entrance hall opening into a large open plan living/dining room with the original steel-framed window spanning almost the entire length of the long wall and bedrooms of equal size at the back of the flat. The original teak flooring and built-in storage were present and correct but the the bathroom suite looked a bit 80s and the kitchen looked a bit early 00s (neither particularly good eras for design). The high ceilings, open layout and large footprint (around 75 sq metres) contributed to an overall sense of space.
The views from this particular flat were a bit of a mixed bag: even though the flat was on the 6th floor and consequently pretty high up, the positioning on the estate meant that there was a direct view into more than one of the other blocks. That said, there was a pretty magnificent view of the hills of Crystal Palace (and beyond) from the living room window – but only from particular angles.
The flat was tenanted at the time of the viewing and was consequently looking a bit careworn but the potential was evident. The website modernistestates.com has featured some flats on the estate with almost exactly the same layout refurbished/restored to their full potential:
Property values, unsurprisingly, have risen exponentially over the past few years (and certainly at a faster rate than properties in my current area). Annoyingly, I would have been able to comfortably afford a flat on the estate at the time I bought my current flat but that’s no longer the case.