Welcome to Du Cane Court, Balham!

This website is your go-to resource for residents, renters, flat owners, and anyone intrigued by London Art Deco architecture. Our primary goal is to facilitate communication and information sharing among the Du Cane Court community, providing convenient email addresses for residents and a platform for exchanging valuable insights.


In addition to this website, we invite you to join the vibrant Facebook communities. A closed group, Du Cane Court , offers an engaging space for discussions, and membership requires approval. Another exciting Facebook group called Du Cane Court is groovy, where you can connect with like-minded individuals.


Find out what services are available and how to request an email address @ducanecourt.com.

Block management:

If you are looking for information about the block management or other information you should contact the Estate Office (ARIM) directly on 020 8675 7046. Further contact information available via ARMA.
Information about Du Cane Court Book Club (DCBC) is available by joining the Du Cane Court Facebook group.

Du Cane Court Guide for Owners and Tenants

Read the Du Cane Court Guide for Owners and Tenants or download the full Du Cane Court Guide for owners and tenants October 2015

Note: This information was last updated in October 2015

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You can find out more about the history on the site and residents are welcome to share their own history and photographs of Du Cane through the years.

Described at the time as “a magnificent up to date building providing distinctive accommodation”, Du Cane Court Balham High Road, was built in 1937 and completed in just one year. Although the sales and rental information at the time stated that the development was ready for occupation from June 1936. With around 676 flats under one roof it is thought to be the largest private block in Europe and since then a number of additional apartments have been added to what were previously communal spaces such as the seventh-floor restaurant. If you were inspired by the V&A’s recent Art Deco exhibition, this is certainly the place to live. The block’s design is a classic of the genre, with vast pillars in its reception. Residents benefit from the services of a 24-hour security guard and reception, small communal gardens, a shop, as well as the prime location, two minutes from Balham Tube and rail station.

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You can buy A History of Du Cane Court: Land, Architecture, People and Politics by Gregory Vincent in the reception of Du Cane Court, Balham High Road or from Balham Library or online from amazon.co.uk
Read more about Du Cane Court and if you are interested in the building, Art Deco Architecture or Balham local history then you may wish to purchase one of these items.


History of Du Cane Court London

Du Cane Court, located in Balham, London, is a historic residential building that holds a rich and fascinating history. Here is a summary of its history;

The name is believed to derive from the Du Cane family who were landowners in the eighteenth century and on whose land the building was constructed. The building has mellowed gracefully over the years, its former grandeur now almost camouflaging neatly into Balham High Road – but not quite.

Land Purchase

At the turn of the twentieth century, the Du Cane family retained vast land holdings, boasting an impressive 5000 acres in Essex. Trustees were appointed to divide the land among the descendants, ensuring a fair distribution.

Among the family members, Charles Henry Copley Du Cane (born on 25th May, 1864) played a pivotal role in the sale of a 4.5 acre parcel of land to Central London Property Trust  which was to accommodate the iconic Du Cane Court. As the Lord of the Manors of Great and Little Braxted, and a distinguished member of the Coldstream Guards, Charles held significant influence.

The Du Cane family’s influence extended to Streatham Common, which they wished to preserve as an open public space. On 26th August, 1924, Frank Newman, acting on behalf of the Du Canes, approached the London County Council with a request for compensation to offset potential losses in building values due to this preservation.

Even as late as the 3rd of July, 1950, the Du Cane estate in Balham included the areas of Dendy Street, Chestnut Grove, Kate Street, Boundaries Road, and St James’s Road. The Du Cane family’s enduring influence and property holdings continued to make an impact on the local landscape.

You can read more about some other famous Du Cane’s here.

Construction and Early Years (1935-1945):

Du Cane Court was constructed between 1935 and 1938 by architect George Bertram Carter in the Art Deco style. The building, which is also possibly named after Sir Edmund Frederick Du Cane, an influential figure in the prison system, was initially designed as luxury apartments with central heating, constant hot water, water softener and a radio with a choice of two programmes were basic features. A large restaurant held regular dinner dances and the licensed club offered membership at 5/- per annum. A shop on the premises and helpful porters to assist with the luggage and the occasional repairs to electrical appliances meant it was not really necessary to leave the building at all.

However, with the outbreak of World War II, the building was requisitioned by the government and used for various purposes, including housing for military personnel and as a secret intelligence facility. Du Cane Court was used to house part of the civil service during the war, chosen for it’s quick and easy links into the city. Surprisingly it was never bombed despite the station and parts of Balham High Road becoming target practice. In 1940 Balham tube station was involved in bombing raids that led to 64 people who took cover in the tube station being killed when a bomb burst water and gas mains. This particular bomb was featured in Atonement, a 2001 novel by Ian McEwan which later was to become a film in 2007 starring James McAvoy and Keira Knightly. There is also a memorial artwork on Balham Station Road.

Post-War Period and Fame (1945-1970):

After the war, Du Cane Court returned to its original purpose as a residential building. Its prime location and affordable rents attracted a diverse range of residents, including artists, musicians, and professionals. The building became known as the “Aristocrat of Apartment Houses” and gained fame for its luxurious amenities, including a ballroom, restaurant, and rooftop garden. Du Cane Court also had famous residents, such as actress Margaret Rutherford and actor Anton Walbrook.

Decline and Revitalisation Efforts (1970-1990):

In the 1970s, Du Cane Court began to experience a decline in its reputation and maintenance due to financial difficulties and changing housing trends. The building fell into disrepair, and some apartments were subdivided into smaller units. However, in the late 1980s, efforts were made to revitalise Du Cane Court, and major renovations were undertaken to restore its original Art Deco features and modernise the facilities.

Present-Day Du Cane Court:

Today, Du Cane Court stands as a landmark in Balham and remains a sought-after residential building. It comprises approximately 676 apartments spread over ten floors and offers a range of amenities, including a 24-hour concierge service and communal gardens. The building’s distinctive exterior, with its symmetrical façade and prominent clock tower, continues to be a recognizable feature of Balham’s skyline.

Cultural Significance and Popularity:

Du Cane Court has played a significant role in popular culture over the years. It has been featured in films, television shows, and literature, adding to its allure and mystique. The building’s iconic status and historical significance have made it a subject of interest for architectural enthusiasts and visitors alike. Du Cane Court stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of Art Deco design and the resilience of a building that has withstood the test of time.

Overall, Du Cane Court’s history encompasses periods of wartime utility, post-war glamour, decline, and eventual restoration, securing its place as an iconic building in London’s architectural and cultural landscape.

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A new book is now available on the imposing art deco building in Balham, which was reckoned to be the largest block of privately owned flats under one roof in Europe when it was built. Many famous comedians and theatrical celebrities have been part of the community living at Du Cane including Tommy Trinder, Derek Roy, Margaret Rutherford, Elizabeth Sellars and Harry Leader.

You can buy A History of Du Cane Court: Land, Architecture, People and Politics by Gregory Vincent in the reception of Du Cane Court, Balham High Road or from Balham Library or online from amazon.co.uk


The design of Du Cane Court is a striking example of the Art Deco architectural style, which was popular during the interwar period of the 1920s and 1930s. Here are some key features and design elements of Du Cane Court:


The building’s exterior is characterized by its symmetrical composition and clean lines. It boasts a distinctive pale yellow brick facade with vertical and horizontal decorative bands in contrasting colors. The central feature of the building is its clock tower, rising above the main entrance and serving as a focal point.

Grand Entrance:

The main entrance of Du Cane Court is an impressive Art Deco showcase. It features a set of double doors framed by decorative metalwork and flanked by geometric-patterned glass panels. The entrance is adorned with intricate geometric motifs and stylized flora and fauna designs, representing the era’s fascination with streamlined and geometric forms.


The interior design of Du Cane Court reflects the opulence and luxury associated with Art Deco. The communal areas are adorned with sleek materials, such as polished marble, terrazzo, and mirrored surfaces. The common spaces, including the lobby and corridors, feature geometric patterns, stepped motifs, and chrome detailing, all characteristic of the Art Deco style.


Du Cane Court was renowned for its amenities, which were considered lavish for their time. The building originally included a ballroom, restaurant, and a rooftop garden, providing residents with spaces for socializing and leisure activities. These amenities were designed to evoke a sense of grandeur and cater to the residents’ desire for a luxurious lifestyle.

Art Deco Details:

Throughout Du Cane Court, there are numerous Art Deco details and decorative elements. These include ornate wrought-iron railings, stylized floral motifs, stepped and geometric patterns, and elegant light fixtures. The design incorporates a mix of materials, including wood, glass, metal, and stone, to create a visually appealing and harmonious aesthetic.

The design of Du Cane Court reflects the elegance, sophistication, and innovation of the Art Deco movement. It captures the spirit of the era through its geometric shapes, luxurious materials, and attention to detail, making it an iconic example of Art Deco architecture in London.

Behind the mature trees and Japanese gardens allegedly laid out by Kusumoto, the famous landscape artist, lies an interior more akin to a cruise ship than a block of flats. The window design of the architect G. Kay Green ensured that each flat received maximum light although in recent years many are being replaced with newer double glazed windows in a similar style.

On TV and in Movies:

Du Cane is such a good example of Art Deco Architecture that scenes from Agatha Christie’s Poirot were filmed in the building. You can see Du Cane Court at the opening of “The Plymouth Express, in which David Suchet appeared as the lead character Poirot. In the episode, Florence who was a daughter of a multimillionaire, Holliday, lived in the block. The entrance to Du Cane appeared when Florence’s husband was visiting her. Another Christie character Miss Marple is linked to Du Cane Court this time because the actress playing her, Dame Margaret Rutherford, lived in the block.

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Okay let’s get this out of the way immediately there is an urban legend that Hitler had earmarked Du Cane Court as his HQ if his invasion of Great Britain was successful during the second world war. It was rumoured that Hitler had placed spies here and that he also found the construction a useful landmark for his air crews. “it was turn left at Du Cane Court and then head home for Germany”. Whether this was true or not the source of some debate.

Du Cane Court has garnered several other legends and stories over the years, adding to its mystique and cultural significance. Here are a few notable legends associated with the building:

Secret Tunnels and Espionage:

One popular legend suggests that Du Cane Court housed secret tunnels during World War II, which were used for espionage and clandestine operations. According to the tale, these tunnels connected the building to other strategic locations in London. While the exact existence of such tunnels remains unverified, it adds an air of intrigue to the building’s history.

Famous Residents and Celebrity Tales:

Du Cane Court’s history includes a range of famous residents, leading to tales and anecdotes about their time spent in the building. Stories of encounters with notable figures like Margaret Rutherford, the renowned actress, and Anton Walbrook, the actor, have been passed down through the years, further enhancing the building’s allure.

The Ghost of Du Cane Court:

Like many historic buildings, Du Cane Court has its fair share of ghostly legends. Some residents and visitors claim to have experienced paranormal activities within the building, including sightings of a ghostly figure believed to be a former resident. These ghost stories, though unverified, contribute to the building’s reputation as a place with a touch of the supernatural. These rumours are not helped by the Du Cane Court Dungeons.

Time Capsule and Hidden Treasures:

Another legend surrounding Du Cane Court revolves around the idea of hidden treasures or a time capsule within the building. The tale suggests that during its construction, valuable artifacts or documents were sealed within the walls, waiting to be discovered by future generations. While no concrete evidence of such treasures has been found, the legend adds an element of excitement and mystery to the building’s history.

It’s important to note that legends and stories associated with historic buildings often emerge from a mix of factual information, embellishments, and imaginative storytelling. While these legends contribute to the cultural significance and folklore surrounding Du Cane Court, it’s advisable to approach them with a sense of fascination and skepticism.

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