Hampstead Village still retains most of its original village charm, despite some of the modern high street names creeping in. When McDonalds tried to open up a shop in the High Street, in a Grade II listed building, there was strong local opposition, and eventually they had to agree to a severely toned down frontage, so Hampstead's McDonalds is like no other.
Hampstead's streets are narrow and hilly, with alleys and lanes leading off. Beautiful cottages and buildings are everywhere. There are 18 Grade II Listed properties in Hampstead High Street alone.
St John's, Downshire Hill, opened about 1823.
Painting by Lindy Newman
Hampstead Parish Church in Church Row
Painting by Lindy Newman Photo by Lindy Newman Photo by Lindy Newman
Amongst the inmates of the cemetery are John Constable (painter), Hugh Gaitskell (labour leader), Kay Kendall (actress), several members of the du Maurier family, John Harrison (inventor of the marine chronometer), and Anton Walbrook (actor). The book "Buried in Hampstead", (Camden History Society, 1986) also notes that the following are buried there: Jane Austen's aunt, Coleridge's grandchildren, Leigh Hunt's daughter-in-law, Lily Langtree's cousin, Shelley's son's father-in-law, Robert Stephenson's wife, Queen Victoria's chaplain, and Evelyn Waugh's parents, as well as such luminaries as the Head of the Skin Department of St Bartholomew's Hospital, the Improver of Railway Refreshments, the Defuser of an Enemy Mine on the Hungerford Bridge, and a Singer in the First Performance of Haydn's Creation.
Photo by Lindy Newman
Hampstead Parish Church Interior in Church Row
Hampstead Parish Church is unusual in this day and age, in that it always seems to be open and unlocked. I'm not a religious person, but even so, I am awed by the atmosphere in there; the sense of peace and silence is profound, even though you know the traffic is rushing by you and everyday life is going on frantically outside the doors.
Church Row from the graveyard, from the back and from the front
Photo by Lindy Newman
Not a very good picture, I know, but the building on the left, painted grey, is the Everyman Cinema, which opened in 1933. Prior to that, it was the Everyman Theatre from 1920 on. Before that it was the Hampstead Drill Hall of the 3rd Middlesex Rifle Volunteer Corps.
photo by Lindy Newman
In 1855 this became the home of the grandly named "The Hampstead Public Library of General Literature and Elementary Science". Originally, it was at Mrs Dearmans' at 7 Gardnor Place, Flask Walk. It then moved to 60 Heath Street, before coming to Stanfield House, on the corner of Prince Arthur Road and Hampstead High Street. John Constable was one of its first subscribers. According to Mary Hill, (author & painter) at one point it had over 12,000 books. Originally, there were other houses adjoining it, but they are long gone. It is said that the road you can see in the front of the picture (Prince Arthur Road) was cut through from Heath Street to the High Street because of the visit of Prince Arthur of Connaught to open the Sailors' Daughter's Home.
This is Hampstead High Street looking down the hill towards Haverstock Hill, c 1902. The church on the right is the Hampstead Wesleyan, demolished about 1934. Tucked just out of sight, between the church and the shops, is Stanfield House.
Painting by Lindy Newman Photo by Lindy Newman
Burgh House is a Queen Anne, Grade I listed building, built in 1703. At one time, it was the officer's mess of the Royal East Middlesex Militia. After the last war, which it was lucky to survive, it was bought by the local council. It is now the home of the Hampstead Museum of Local History. One of the rooms is an art gallery with regular exhibitions, and you can hold your wedding ceremony in the beautiful, wood panelled music room. There is a delightful, prize winning terraced garden, originally designed by Gertrude Jekyll and maintained in her style, full of little nooks and crannies, with tables and chairs set up for the enjoyment of afternoon tea in the dappled shade. In the garden there is a little wooden handcart, painted with the name Henry Kippin. Henry Kippin was the local chimney sweep, the last of three generations of Kippins who swept the chimneys of Hampstead for a hundred years. He lived in Perrins Court, his house now being occupied by the Villa Bianca, an expensive Italian restaurant, which seems to have been there for as long as I can remember.
New Court is Grade 2 listed
Victorian tenement blocks. Once home to Sid Vicious, Johnny
Rotten and Boy George amongst others.
Photos by Lindy Newman
Fenton House, built about 1693. It is now run by the National Trust, and houses a collection of pictures, porcelain, furniture, and The Benton Fletcher collection of musical instruments, which includes a harpsichord used by Handel. The walled garden is absolutely beautiful.
Hampstead Observatory, Lower Terrace, Whitestone Pond, NW3
Way up Heath Street, just before you get to Whitestone Ponds, tucked away in a quiet cul-de-sac and on top of a reservoir, you will find the Hampstead Observatory.
The Hampstead Scientific Society was founded in 1899 by P.E. Vizard, and the observatory has been on that site since 1910. The telescope used by the society is a 6" refractor made in 1898 by Thomas Cook of York and was presented to the society in 1923. Alongside the observatory is a weather station, which has been checked daily since 1910, providing the longest continuous record of meteorological readings in the country. The HSS is an educational charity trying to spread the word of science, and they organise monthly lectures at St Johnís church hall. It is open on clear Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings from mid-October to mid-April. 8-10pm Fri and Sat, 11am-1pm Sun. Free
Carry on up Heath Street, past the Observatory, and you come to Whitestone Pond, named for its 'white stone', or milestone. This is where the horses who had struggled all the way up the hill would get to drink and recover from their exertions.
At the small roundabout just ahead is the junction of North End Way and Spaniards Road. There stands Heath House, previously occupied by many illustrious people, notably Samuel Hoare in 1790. The house, its garden walls and railings are Grade II* listed. It is said that from its roof, you can see six counties on a clear day. It seems to have been empty for quite a long while.
Photo by Lindy Newman
To the left of Heath House is Jack Straw's Castle - alas no longer a pub. It is reputed to be 443 1/2ft above sea level.
An old postcard of Jack Straw's Castle Hotel
On the right of Heath House, looking over the rooftops of the Vale of Health, is a spectacular view over London. My camera is not good enough to do it justice, but you can just about get the idea.
Photo by Lindy Newman