The Virtual Tour  of Hampstead

West Heath

Sandy Heath

Hampstead Village

East Heath

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Sandy Heath

 

From West Heath, you can walk down to North End Road, where you will find The Old Bull & Bush on the other side of the road.

Painting by Lindy Newman

The original building was a farmhouse, licensed to sell ale in 1721. William Hogarth used to drink his ale here, and was said to have planted by his own hand the yew bower in the garden. Thomas Gainsborough was reputed to have said "What a delightful little snuggery is this said Bull and Bush."  In the 1890s it was renowned for its gardens and music, and in the Edwardian era it became even more popular, as it was  a favourite place for East Londoners on a day out in the "country". It was made famous again by the 15 stone favourite of the music halls, Florrie Forde, with her song Down at the Old Bull & Bush. She once said "Men don't like thin women. They prefer plumpness, pep and personality". I'm not sure many would agree with her now. 

The painting above was done 3-4 years ago. Below is a 1909 postcard showing how different it used to be. Then, there was a popular tea garden and private dining rooms.

Behind the Bull & Bush is partly completed underground station, part of the northern line, between Golders Green and Hampstead stations. It has only ever been used for storing archives for safety in the wars.

 

Just down the road a bit from the Bull and Bush, and on the opposite side of the road, is Golders Hill Park, which is now part of the Heath, but was originally a private mansion and park. In 1898 the owner died and the property came up for sale and local people got together and managed to raise the money to buy it for public use. Hampstead Vestry paid a large sum and various private individuals paid subscriptions too. the 36 acre site was bought for 38,500. Sadly the mansion is long gone, but the park and beautiful formal flower garden still remain for our pleasure.

 

 

 

Walk down the side of the Old Bull & Bush, and, where the road ends, a path into the woods begins. This is Sandy Heath, which I always knew as the swamp. Large amounts of sand and gravel were excavated in the 1860s for bricks and railway building, so there are a lot of ponds and swampy areas there.

                                    

 All paintings by Lindy Newman  

      

Photo by Lindy Newman

This gate in the middle of the woods is all that is left of the house of Prime Minster William Pitt, Earl of Chatham. He retired there in 1767 to convalesce from various illnesses of both the mind and body.                        

 

 

 

All paintings by Lindy Newman

Walking through the woods, brings you to Spaniards End, where you will find the Spaniards Inn, originally built in 1585 as a country house for the Spanish Ambassador according to tradition. The inn, together with its 18th century toll house, creates a bottle-neck of traffic, as only one vehicle at a time can pass through the narrow gap. They are both listed buildings, and can't be changed. so you just have to put up with it.....part of the charm of the area!  Inside it is low and dark, with little snugs here and there, and you can well imagine Dick Turpin plotting his dastardly deeds there. Except that he probably didn't, as apparently he was executed in 1739, before it became an inn.

Painting by Lindy Newman

Carry on down the road, and you come to Kenwood House.

   

 Kenwood House was transformed from a simple brick house into a majestic villa by Robert Adam in the reign of George III. Scenes from the films Notting Hill and Mansfield Park, amongst others, were filmed here.  It has a fabulous art collection featuring paintings by Sir Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough, George Romney, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Dyke, and many others. There are also regular open air lakeside concerts and fireworks, although the neighbours have been known to complain about the noise. It seems we nearly lost Kenwood House during the Gordon Riots of 1780. The rioters were offered unlimited refreshments by the landlord of the Spaniards Inn, which delayed them sufficiently until the military, already alerted by the Mansfield family, arrived to deal with them.

 

Painting by Lindy Newman

 

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