Artists & Espionage: The Lawn Road Flats NW3: Modernist Living in Mid-20th Century London

Wednesday 7 July 2021

Deborah Lambert

Deborah Lambert is a freelance art historian and lecturer. After reading for an MA in the History of Art at the Courtauld Institute, London University, she became an arts administrator. In 1978 she joined Christie’s Education, part of Christie’s Auctioneers, as tutor, lecturer and academic director teaching fine and decorative art history. From 2006 until stepping down in September 2015, Deborah was Curator of the Schroder Collection, an important private art collection, and she now concentrates on her freelance lecturing and research.

Deborah has lectured to a variety of organisations in the United Kingdom and abroad, and for over 20 years appeared on BBC Television’s Antiques Roadshow as a furniture specialist.

 

This story has a plot worthy of Agatha Christie. The cast includes Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer and Laszlo Moholy Nagy, refugees from the Bauhaus in Germany, Henry Moore the sculptor, the writers Nicholas Monsarrat and Agatha Christie herself as well as numerous other writers, intellectuals and civil servants.

The setting is The Lawn Road Flats, a startling Modernist block in a leafy road in North London. It offered a radical new housing concept for young professionals: small serviced flats with a communal restaurant and popular club. But was there a darker side to this lively bohemian environment? It was in fact also home to a nest of Soviet spies, including the recruiter and controller of the Cambridge 5.

This is the story of a ground breaking building, now Grade 1 listed, and of the rich and complex lives of its residents.

 

Caption: Isokon Building (The Lawn Road Flats), Hampstead, London; Creative Commons