THE FASCINATION OF LONDON
HAMPSTEAD AND MARYLEBONE
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IN THIS SERIES.
Cloth, price 1s. 6d. net; leather, price 2s. net, each.
THE STRAND DISTRICT.
By Sir WALTER BESANT and G. E. MITTON.
By Sir WALTER BESANT and G. E. MITTON.
HAMPSTEAD AND MARYLEBONE.
By G. E. MITTON. Edited by Sir WALTER BESANT.
By G. E. MITTON. Edited by Sir WALTER BESANT.
By G. E. MITTON. Edited by Sir WALTER BESANT.
HOLBORN AND BLOOMSBURY.
By G. E. MITTON. Edited by Sir WALTER BESANT.
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The Fascination of London
HAMPSTEAD AND MARYLEBONE
BY G. E. MITTON
EDITED BY SIR WALTER BESANT
LONDON ADAM & CHARLES BLACK 1902
Published August, 1902
Reprinted February, 1903
A survey of London, a record of the greatest of all cities, that should preserve her history, her historical and literary associations, her mighty buildings, past and present, a book that should comprise all that Londoners love, all that they ought to know of their heritage from the past—this was the work on which Sir Walter Besant was engaged when he died.
As he himself said of it: "This work fascinates me more than anything else I've ever done. Nothing at all like it has ever been attempted before. I've been walking about London for the last thirty years, and I find something fresh in it every day."
He had seen one at least of his dreams realized in the People's Palace, but he was not destined to see this mighty work on London take form. He died when it was still incomplete. His scheme included several volumes on the history of London as a whole. These he finished up to the end of the eighteenth century, and they form a record of the great city practically unique, and exceptionally interesting, compiled by one who had the qualities both of novelist and historian, and who knew how to make the dry bones live. The volume on the eighteenth century, which Sir Walter called a "very big chapter indeed, and particularly interesting," will shortly be issued by Messrs. A. and C. Black, who had undertaken the publication of the Survey.
Sir Walter's idea was that the next two volumes should be a regular and systematic perambulation of London by different persons, so that the history of each parish should be complete in itself. This was a very original feature in the great scheme, and one in which he took the keenest interest. Enough has been done of this section to warrant its issue in the form originally intended, but in the meantime it is proposed to select some of the most interesting of the districts and publish them as a series of booklets, attractive alike to the local inhabitant and the student of London, because much of the interest and the history of London lie in these street associations. For this purpose Chelsea, Westminster, the Strand, and Hampstead have been selected for publication first, and have been revised and brought up to date.
The difficulty of finding a general title for the series was very great, for the title desired was one that would express concisely the undying charm of London—that is to say, the continuity of her past history with the present times. In streets and stones, in names and palaces, her history is written for those who can read it, and the object of the series is to bring forward these associations, and to make them plain. The solution of the difficulty was found in the words of the man who loved London and planned the great scheme. The work "fascinated" him, and it was because of these associations that it did so. These links between past and present in themselves largely constitute The Fascination of London.
G. E. M.
PREFATORY NOTE vii
Map of Hampstead facing page 1.
Map of Marylebone facing page 104.
The name of this borough is clearly derived from "ham," or "hame," a home; and "steede," a place, and has consequently the same meaning as homestead. Park, in a note in his book on Hampstead, says that the "p" is a modern interpolation, scarcely found before the seventeenth century, and not in general use until the eighteenth.
Lysons says that the Manor of Hampstead was given in 986 A.D. by King Ethelred to the church at Westminster, and that this gift was confirmed by Edward the Confessor; but there is an earlier charter of King Edgar of uncertain date, probably between 963 and 978. It granted the land at Hamstede to one Mangoda, and the limits of the grant are thus stated: "From Sandgate along the road to Foxhanger; from the Hanger west to Watling Street north along the street to the Cucking Pool; from the Cucking Pool east to Sandgate."
Professor Hales, who thinks, whether genuine or not, this charter is certainly of value, interprets Sandgate as North End, Foxhanger as Haverstock Hill, Watling Street as Edgeware Road, and the Cucking Pool he concludes was in the marshy ground at the north-west corner of the parish.
This earlier charter is only interesting because it carries the history one point further back; the gift to the monks by King Ethelred was in its consequences far more important. The Bishop of Westminster, who held the land after the dissolution of the monastery, surrendered it to the King in 1550, by whom it was given to Sir Thomas Wroth. It remained in the Wroth family until 1620, when it was acquired by Sir Baptist Hickes, afterwards Viscount Campden. Hickes' daughter and coheir married Lord Noel, ancestor of the Earls of Gainsborough, and it was held by the Gainsboroughs until 1707. In that year it was bought by Sir William Langhorne, who left it to his nephew. It then went to a Mrs. Margaret Maryon, later to Mrs. Weller, and about 1780 to Sir Thomas Spencer Wilson, in right of his wife. Her son, Sir Thomas Maryon Wilson, succeeded her, and in this line it has remained since 1818.
Besides the Manor of Hampstead there is included in the borough the ancient Manor of Belsize, or Belses. Sir Roger de Brabazon in 1317 gave an estate to Westminster Abbey to found a chantry for himself, Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, and Blanche his wife. After many changes it was occupied by Lord Wotton, who had been created a Baron by Charles II. His half-brother, Philip, Earl of Chesterfield, succeeded him, and the family held the Belsize estate until 1807. The house was afterwards turned into a popular place of amusement.
Hampstead as a whole has grown very rapidly. In a map of the beginning of the nineteenth century there are comparatively few houses; these nestle in the shape of a spear-head and haft about the High Street. At West End and Fortune Green are a few more, a few straggle up the southern end of the Kilburn Road, and Rosslyn House and Belsize House are detached, out in the open country.
Seymour, writing in 1735, gives a quaint description of Hampstead as follows: "This Village ... is much more frequented by good company than can well be expected considering its vicinity to London, but such care has been taken to discourage the meaner sort from making it a place of residence that it is now become, after Scarborough and Bath and Tunbridge, one of the Politest Public Places in England, and to add to the Entertainment of the Company there is, besides the long room in which the Company meet publicly on a Monday evening to play at cards, etc., a new Dancing Room built this year."
Hampstead itself, now a town of 80,000 people, is almost entirely modern; the old village has been gradually destroyed until there is next to nothing left. But the Heath remains, the only wild piece of ground within easy reach of the Londoner. It remains to be seen whether the authorities will continue to observe the difference between a park and a heath.
No suburb of London can point to so many distinguished residents as this, the most favoured and the most favourite. Among them may be mentioned Sir Henry Vane, Dr. Butler (author of the "Analogy"), Lord Alvanley, Lord Chatham, Lord Erskine, Crabbe, Dr. Johnson, Joanna Baillie, Mrs. Barbauld, Constable, Romney, Sir James Mackintosh, Steele, Gay, Arbuthnot, Akenside, Thomas Day, Leigh Hunt, Keats, William Blake, John Linnell, Wilkie, Stanfield, Du Maurier, and many others.
Directly you get within the boundaries of Hampstead you are aware that the borough has an atmosphere of its own—an atmosphere in two senses, for the great height of part of the borough and its distance from London combine to give it as wholesome and pure an air as may be found in any place in England, and an atmosphere in the metaphorical sense—a peculiar feeling of brightness and lightness which proclaims a favoured suburb. Hampstead has always been celebrated for its trees, and in spite of the great annual increase in the number of its houses these have not been wiped out of existence. Nearly every house possesses one or more, and some are very fine specimens. The long sinuous backbone of the borough, beginning as Haverstock Hill, continuing as Rosslyn Hill, and running through High Street and Heath Street to the Heath, is tree-shaded almost all its length. The streets on either side show vistas of irregular red brick, softened and toned down by the greenery of trees; every road is an avenue. The main artery, indicated above, is all uphill, not all equally steep, but collar-work throughout its length; at the top it bifurcates, and the winding of Heath Street reminds one of a Continental town. The steep little streets or alleys running down into it are furnished with steps like the Edinburgh wynds. The way is long, but the toil is forgotten at the summit in the splendid view from the flagstaff. Here the rolling blue outlines of distant hills are emphasized by the beautiful foreground of the West Heath. There is none of what painters call the "middle distance"; everything is near or far, and the near is extraordinarily beautiful, especially if it be seen in springtime when the spray of blossom is like the spray of deep water breaking upon rocks, and the gorse twinkles like the twinkling of ripples in the golden sunlight. The immediate foreground is bare and worn, but a little further away the miniature heights and hollows, the scrubby bush and little winding paths, add that mystery which so greatly increases delight. The pond by the Flagstaff is frequently very gay; there are carriages and horses, children with flotillas of white-sailed craft, and horses splashing knee-deep from end to end of the pond, an advantage much appreciated in the hot and thirsty summer. Away to the east stretches of rolling green form a joyous playground for all at holiday times, but are bare and arid compared with the West Heath.
Below North End on West Heath this character is maintained, and there are few sights in England more beautiful than the richly clothed broken ground stretching away from the slopes below Jack Straw's Castle when the sunlight catches the leaves of the poplars and beeches, making them shine with shimmery silver light. On all sides are magnificent views of distant horizons.
The Heath forms one of the greatest attractions of Hampstead, and that the inhabitants are fully alive to its beauty and importance is shown by their gallant and successful efforts to preserve it intact, when, from time to time, it has been threatened. Neither the proposed curtailments by the Lord of the Manor nor the park-like "improvements" of the London County Council have been permitted. It is still a wide space of undulating ground, outlined by masses of foliage rising to the heights of Highgate, and is an untold boon to the dwellers in the City, who throng its slopes on Bank Holidays. In 1866 a contest arose between the Lord of the Manor, Sir Thomas Maryon Wilson, and the inhabitants of Hampstead as to the preservation of the Heath. Up to that date for twenty years a guerilla warfare had been going on in dispute of Sir Maryon Wilson's right to build upon the Heath, and when he began to build a house close to the Flagstaff pond the matter came to an issue. A subscription list was opened called the Hampstead Heath Protection Fund, and the matter was taken into court. Before the case was ended Sir Thomas died, and was succeeded by his brother Sir John, who was open to a compromise. Under an Act of Parliament the Metropolitan Board of Works acquired the Heath for L55,045. The ground thus acquired comprised 220 acres. In 1889-90 Parliament Hill Fields and the Brickfields were purchased for L302,000, with money partly raised by the local Vestries, partly by public subscription, and partly by Metropolitan taxation. The land thus bought from Lord Mansfield and Sir Spencer Wilson comprised 261 acres, and was dedicated to the public as an open space for ever.
The part of the Heath known as East Heath consists of rolling grassy slopes outlined with clumps of trees and intersected by roads and footpaths. The great road known as Spaniards, which cuts across as straight as an arrow, gives the impression of having been banked up and levelled at some previous date, but this appearance is due to the excavations for sand and gravel at its sides which took place while the ground was still under the rule of the lord of the manor.
The Heath has suffered from highwaymen in common with most lonely spots in the vicinity of the Metropolis. One, Jackson, in 1673, was hung behind Jack Straw's Castle for highway murder, but no other very notorious crimes are attached to this spot as there are to Hounslow or Blackheath.
The Heath is not altogether destitute of houses; of those detached, several have had the origin of what Baines terms "Squatters' right," and have established their title by process of time. There are also several hamlets: the Vale of Health, the houses about Jack Straw's Castle, North End, and the group near the Spaniards.
The curious little cluster of buildings called the Vale of Health, situated in a basin near to one of the Hampstead ponds, has always attracted considerable attention. Here Leigh Hunt came to live in 1816; his house was on the site of the Vale of Health Hotel. Thornbury quotes an old inhabitant, who writes of Leigh Hunt's cottage as having a "pretty balcony environed with creepers, and a tall arbor vitae which almost overtops the roof." There are very few even tolerably old houses left here; the little streets are of the modern villa order, and the great square tavern, with its tea-gardens and merry-go-rounds, its shooting-galleries and penny-in-the-slot machines, has vulgarized the place. Prince Esterhazy is said to have taken a house in the Vale of Health in 1840; this has been "long since pulled down." The place is now dedicated to the sweeping tide of merry-makers which flows over it every recurring Bank Holiday.
The charming spot called North End still remains rural in appearance: small cottages with red-tiled roofs and quaint inns survive side by side with the modern red-brick school-house. The Bull and Bush is said to have been the country seat of Hogarth, and later, when it became a tavern, to have been visited by Sir Joshua Reynolds, Garrick, Sterne, Foote, and other celebrities. The house is very picturesque: the projecting wing northward is of rusticated woodwork; the leads of the bayed-windows are covered with flowers in summer. There are still the old-fashioned tea-gardens attached.
There are many substantial and comfortable residences about North End, but the Hampstead boundary does not include them all. Wildwoods, or, as it used to be called, North End House, is the most important within the boundary. The original fabric of the house is two centuries old, but has been altered and repaired largely. The spot is named Wildwood Corner in Domesday Book. Its chief historical interest lies in its occupation by William Pitt, first Earl of Chatham, who shut himself up here from all communication with his fellow-Ministers in 1767; he was then a miserable invalid, afflicted with a disorder which in modern times would have been termed "nerves"; he refused to see anyone, even his own attendant, and his food was passed to him through a panel of the door. However, he afterwards returned to public life. In Wildwood Terrace are the Home of Rest for the Aged Poor, and a Convalescent Cottage Home. Wilkie Collins was born at North End. Besides this, the names of Linnell, portrait and landscape painter, Coventry Patmore, Mrs. Craik, Eliza Meteyard, a minor author, and Sir Fowell Buxton, are more or less intimately associated with the little hamlet.
A charming path leads over the broken ground from North End to the Spaniards. The most noticeable object as the pedestrian approaches the latter is a grove of fine Scotch firs, which at one time formed an avenue to a substantial, unpretentious house on the north. A Mr. Turner, a tobacconist of Fleet Street, built the house and planted the trees in 1734. The road past the house turns to the left or north, and is bounded on the east side by the wall of the Caenwood property.
Following the road we come upon Erskine House, a stuccoed house with covered porch, chiefly remarkable for the immense size of its upper windows, which are out of all proportion to those of the ground-floor. These command a magnificent prospect, and light a room which, it is said, was designed as a banqueting-hall in which to entertain George III. The house was the residence of the great law lord, Thomas Erskine, and on that account alone is worthy of special mention. A tunnel connecting it with Lord Mansfield's grounds formerly ran under the road.
Below the house, standing at an angle to the Highgate Road, and looking down the hill, is the famous old inn called the Spaniards. Here, at least, the modern builder has not been at work. From the quaint tiled roof to the irregular windows and white-washed brick walls, all is simple and charming. A little lean-to shed of rusticated woodwork forms a bar at the back. This tavern is actually outside the boundary of Hampstead, but it is so closely connected with the parish that it cannot be overlooked. It is on the site of a lodge at the entrance to the park or grounds of the Bishop of London.
From Wroth we learn that about the middle of the eighteenth century or earlier one Staples laid out a curious pleasure-garden here, with quaint designs, which attracted much attention. It was the landlord of the Spaniards Inn who in the time of the Gordon Riots dexterously detained the rioters from proceeding to Caenwood House until the troops arrived to protect it. The tea-gardens at the back still survive; in these was the old bowling-green. Close by was another pleasure-garden, New Georgia, but this is quite beyond the parish limits.
Returning across the Heath, we come to Jack Straw's Castle, though there is no evidence to show that the riotous ringleader of 1381 had ever any connection with the hostelry named after him, but it is quite possible that the Heath formed a rendezvous for the malcontents of his time. In early times an earthwork stood on the site, which gave rise to the name "castle." The real Jack Straw's Castle was at Highgate. It is almost certain that the Hampstead hostelry was originally a private house; the wood of the gallows on which one Jackson had been hanged behind the house, in 1673, for highway murder, was built into the wall. When the place became an inn it was called Castle Inn, and the first mention of Jack Straw's Castle is in a book published in 1822 called "The Cabinet of Curiosities." The present inn was built in the early part of the eighteenth century, and is a nice-looking stuccoed old house; through the entry to the yard we get a glimpse of red-tiled, rusticated wooden outbuildings. On one side are the tea-gardens. Dickens often resorted here, as is mentioned in Forster's "Life of Dickens," and the inn is referred to also by Washington Irving in "The Sketch-Book."
There was a race-course behind the hotel on the Heath, but the races have been suppressed. In a paper contributed to Baines' book on Hampstead a correspondent says: "The Castle Hotel is associated with the meetings of the Courts Leet, and in the old days during the Middlesex Parliamentary elections the house was a famous rendezvous for candidates and voters." A brick house two centuries old at the corner of Spaniards Road is Heath House. It was long occupied by the Hoare family, of banking fame, whose name has been intimately associated with Hampstead. Visitors of distinction have often been received here, and the names of Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Crabbe were among those of frequent guests.
The Flagstaff marks a very high point on the Heath, 439 feet, which is, however, surpassed by Jack Straw's Castle at 443 feet.
The Whitestone Pond has been enlarged, and is supplied by New River water. From this site a view of surprising beauty is seen—broken ground covered by bracken and gorse, bushes and trees, with the blue outlines of the distant hills.
South of the Whitestone Pond is the Hampstead water reservoir, and near it beds of flowers, rhododendron bushes, etc., are neatly laid out. Almost immediately opposite is a quiet, dark-coloured little brick house, with area steps descending in front and the entrance on the north. This (now a private residence) was once the Upper Flask Tavern, familiar to all the readers of Richardson, for here he makes the unhappy Clarissa Harlowe fly in his famous novel. The Kit Kat Club used to meet here during the summer months, and many celebrities of Queen Anne's reign, including Pope and Steele, are known to have patronized the tavern. George Steevens, the commentator on Shakespeare, who died in the beginning of the present century, lived here, and spent much money on alterations and improvements. Anything less suggestive of a tavern than this cool, shady, retired spot cannot well be imagined. A very large red-brick house, modern, with fancy tiles, stands in its own grounds adjacent, overlooking Holford Road. But it is quite impossible to enumerate all the charming residences scattered about in this locality.
East Heath Road skirts the edge of the Heath. In itself it contains nothing remarkable, but closely adjoining are one or two of those charming old red-brick mansions which make Hampstead what it is. Heathfield House, Squires Mount, and The Pryors are specimens of these.
On the south side is Cannon Hall, an old Queen Anne mansion. Old cannon, which have doubtless some connection with the name, stand in the roadway before it, and close by is Christ Church Vicarage, of the same type, with red-tiled roof.
Christ Church Road is a long tree-shaded thoroughfare descending the slope of the hill; it was formerly called Green Man Lane, from the public-house of that name at the foot.
The church stands at a great elevation, and has a high spire, which forms a landmark far and wide. It was built by Sir Gilbert Scott, consecrated in 1852, and was the successor of the chapel in Well Walk, an account of which is given on p. 18. The church was enlarged in 1882. The streets hereabouts are set at all angles, and the result to a stranger is a little perplexing.
Hampstead Square is a square only in name; one or two delightful old brick houses are dotted about, but are chiefly detached, and can hardly be said to form a square. At New End is the workhouse originally built in 1845, but extended in 1870 and 1883. It is a solid and commodious building. Of the remainder of that part of Hampstead known as New End, it is almost impossible to give any detailed account. It is a curious medley of steeply tilted narrow streets, little passages, small cottages set down at any angle, with vine or Virginia creeper growing over them, and here and there a hideous row of little modern brick houses. The White Bear at New End is the oldest public-house in the parish, bearing date 1704. Willow Road lays claim to its name by the fringe of willows that lines its northern side.
The Flask Tavern in Flask Walk is on the site of one of the oldest beerhouses in Hampstead; the present structure is a hideous brick building of modern date. The Walk is reached from High Street under a covered entry, and the street is at first only wide enough for the passage of one vehicle. Being on the side of the hill it shows, further on, a picturesque irregularity with the footway at a different level from the road. Small rows of limes add a certain quaintness to its aspect, and it is easy to imagine the four days' fair, beginning on August 1, which used to be held here annually. The watch-house and public stocks stood at the upper end of this street when removed from Heath Street.
It is easy to imagine that the name Flask originated in the shape of the road, with its narrow neck and expanded end, but perhaps the Walk took its name from the public-house, in which case the suggested derivation would fail.
Well Walk is the most celebrated spot in Hampstead, for here flow the famous chalybeate waters, which rivalled those of Bath and Tunbridge Wells, and in their best days drew an amazing army of gay people to the spot. The earliest mention of the spring is in the time of Charles II., when a halfpenny token with the words "Dorothy Rippin at the well in Hampsted" on the obverse was issued. In 1698 Susanna Noel with her son Baptist, third Earl of Gainsborough, gave the well, encompassed by six acres of ground, to the poor of Hampstead. It was in the beginning of the eighteenth century that the waters first became famous. Howitt says they were carried fresh every day for sale to Holborn Bars, Charing Cross, and other central spots; but their palmy days did not last very long, for in 1734 there was an attempt to revive interest in them by a laudatory pamphlet. However, while they were at the height of their popularity many persons whose names are well known were attracted by them. It was at the Long Room, Hampstead, that Fanny Burney (afterwards Madame D'Arblay) came to stay, and here she made her heroine Evelina attend balls. Her book gained her such a circle of admirers that it is said her second work was expected as eagerly as a novel from Scott.
The chief building was the Pump Room, on the south side of the street, near where the entrance to Gainsborough Gardens now is. The first recorded entertainment here was on August 18, 1701, when a concert was given. Concerts and entertainments of various kinds were kept up during the season. There was a bowling-green near. This house dated from about the beginning of the eighteenth century. In 1733 it was converted into an episcopal chapel, and was so used until 1849. There was another chapel called Sion Chapel in the vicinity, though its exact situation is unknown; here couples could be married for five shillings, provided they brought with them a license. The license was not always insisted on. The Pump Room was later used as a guard-room of the West Middlesex Volunteers, and was pulled down in 1880 to make way for the road above mentioned. It was then discovered by the intervening wall that the adjacent house was of still older date, and it is thus proved to be one of the oldest remaining in Hampstead. It has a graceful spindle porch and delightful old-world air, though the side adjoining Gainsborough Gardens has been refaced.
Just opposite is a solid drinking fountain of polished granite, with inscription to the effect that it is in memory of Susanna Noel's gift, and here the chalybeate waters may still be tasted. One or two old houses are on the northern side of the Walk, and one of these, a long, low, red-brick edifice called Weatherhall House, deserves special notice. It contained the Long Room where dances and assemblies were held, and even after the fame of the waters declined it still held its place. Perhaps this is the room referred to by Seymour as having been built in 1735. He describes it as "60 feet long and 30 feet wide, well adorned with chandeliers. The manner of being admitted into it is by a ticket, of which every gentleman who subscribes a guinea for the season has one for himself and two more for two ladies; all those who have not subscribers' tickets pay 2s. 6d. each at the entrance every night. And Sunday nights in the same room is an assembly where the gentlemen and ladies who lodge in the town are entertained with tea and coffee at sixpence per head, but no other amusements are allowed on these nights."
Here Mrs. Johnson came, and Mark Akenside, poet and physician of the eighteenth century; Dr. Arbuthnot, friend of Swift, a man ranked high among the wits of his day, and holding the appointment of physician to Queen Anne; Fanny Burney, and many others. The house is now a private residence. Standing further back from the road behind a quadrangle is Burgh House, also old. This was at one time used as a militia barracks, at which time (1863) the two solid wings adjoining the road were erected.
Burgh House is now a private residence, and the cells where insubordinate soldiers were confined are converted into the drying and mangling rooms of a laundry.
The Wells Tavern is on the site of the Green Man, of ancient date. In 1879 the Vestry proposed to sweep away the groves of the Well Walk and make it into a modern thoroughfare, a New Wells Street, which drew forth indignant protest from the parishioners and a pamphlet from Sir Gilbert Scott.
The renovations, accordingly, were confined to the opening of one or two new streets on the south side, and the erection of the fountain. But even this involved the destruction of part of the old Pump Room. On the site of the Pump Room is a new red-brick house called Wellside, built in 1892, which has an inscription to that effect. Besides the Pump Room, Well Walk has many associations. The famous painter Constable lived in a house which was then numbered 6. He took this house as an extra one in 1826, though still retaining the studio and a few rooms in his London house, near Fitzroy Square; he was then fifty, and was just beginning to feel the small measure of success which was all that was granted him in his lifetime. John Keats and his brothers lodged in Well Walk, next to the Wells Tavern, in 1817-18; and the seat on which Keats loved to sit under a grove of trees at the most easterly end is still called by his name. Here Hone found him "sobbing his dying breath into a handkerchief."
East Heath and South End Roads are traversed annually by millions of people, for they lead from the station and the tramway terminus to the Heath, passing some nicely laid-out ground suggestive of a watering-place, and a curious octagonal tower connected with the water companies.
To the north-east are the Hampstead ponds, which are supposed to have been made in Henry VIII.'s reign. They are certainly larger now than they were in the seventeenth century, and have probably been enlarged artificially. They are now in possession of the New River Waterworks Company. The streets on the hill beyond the ponds are all modern.
Gayton Road is composed entirely of modern villas in a continuous straight line. Many of the streets in the vicinity are in the same style, and were built over open meadows at a comparatively recent date. On Downshire Hill is an episcopal chapel with white porch and small cupola; this is dedicated to St. John.
John Street, like Downshire Hill, has detached residences on either side. Large brick flats are rising on the ground once covered by Lawn Bank and Wentworth House. In the former Keats was a welcome visitor from 1818 to 1820, and here he wrote many of his famous poems. Fanny Brawne, with her mother, occupied the adjacent house.
Rosslyn Hill was formerly called Red Lion Hill, from a public-house which stood on the site of the present police-station. On the north side are a Unitarian chapel and schools approached by handsome iron gates. The chapel is approached from Pilgrim Lane and Kemplay Road, and the schools from Willoughby Road. There stood near by until within the last twenty years an old building known as the Chicken House. This is supposed to have been once a hunting lodge of King James I., though there is little basis for the tradition. It became later a mean hovel, the rendezvous for the scum and riffraff of the neighbourhood. It stood a little back from the road just at the spot where Pilgrim Place now is, and contained some very curious stained glass in its windows. There was in one section a portrait of King James I., with an inscription on a tablet below in French to the effect that the King slept here on August 25, 1619. In another section was a corresponding portrait of the favourite, Buckingham. Further north there existed another old house known as Carlisle House. Perhaps this is the one mentioned by Park as a red-brick Elizabethan house with rubbed quoins, which had been let in tenements, and was in a ruinous state in 1777.
On the south or western side of Rosslyn Hill there is the police-station before mentioned, and adjacent an interesting Tudor house, which, though not old, is well built; this contains the Soldiers' Daughters' Home. Old Vane House previously stood here, and was the residence of Sir Harry Vane of the Commonwealth, and later of Bishop Butler, who wrote the "Analogy." The Home is on the site of the south wing of this building, and includes no part of it. Belmont House, now a private residence, was the northern wing. Baines speaks of a date, 1789, and the initials I.R.W. scored on the leads of the latter, but this gives no clue to the age of the building. He says: "The antiquity of the house is abundantly shown by the arrangement of the basements, by the thickness of the main walls, and by a curious subterranean passage from the brewhouse to the stable-yard."
The institution of the Soldiers' Daughters' Home was the outcome of the patriotic feeling aroused by the Crimean War. The house was built for the reception of the girls, who entered into possession in 1867. The Tudor feeling has been well carried out, from the deep porch which overlooks the ivy-surrounded courtyard in front to the stone staircases within. The result is delightful; instead of the hideous dreariness of an institution, we have a real home. At the back a large extent of grass playground stretches out westward, and at the end of this there is a grove of trees. On one side of the grass is a large playroom built in 1880 by means of an opportune legacy, and on the other a covered cloister which leads to the school, standing detached from the house at the other end of the playground. An old pier burdened with a mass of ivy stands up in the centre, the only remnant of this part of old Vane House. Some years ago a portion of the ground was profitably sold for the frontage to Fitz John's Avenue.
The girls are received between the ages of six and eleven years, and remain until sixteen. They are trained in every requisite for domestic service, and make all their own clothes except hats and boots. As a badge of the army, they are always dressed in scarlet.
High Street has been greatly changed within recent years, and it is within the memory of living persons that there were trees on each side. The opening of the two new roads, Prince Arthur Road and Gayton Road, affected its appearance. At the corner of Prince Arthur Road is a large Wesleyan chapel in many coloured bricks. Opposite is the King of Bohemia, a public-house which dates back to Jacobean times, and contains some good Jacobean woodwork; also Stanfield House, once the residence of Clarkson Stanfield the artist, now used as a subscription library. The Free Library reading-room is under the same roof. The house is of brick with ivy climbing over it. About the end of old Church Lane cluster a few old red-brick houses, which preserve a certain flavour of picturesqueness in the street. Opposite the Wesleyan chapel a few more peep over more modern additions. The north-east side is almost entirely modern. The Bird in Hand public-house, where the London omnibuses complete their journey, inherits the name and site of an old tavern. A Presbyterian church at the corner of Willoughby Road dates from 1862, but replaces a much older one removed 1736. In the earlier one Mr. Barbauld, chiefly known on account of his famous wife, ministered for many years. After his death Mrs. Barbauld continued to live at Rosslyn Hill.
Heath Street cuts diagonally across the top of High Street. Below the junction it is all modern, immense red-brick buildings of similar type, with large shops on the ground-floors. At the junction is an imposing fire-station, built by Vulliamy in 1874 on the site of the old police-station. The street higher up is narrow and irregular, with a row of elms above the level of the roadway on the west side. A conspicuous Baptist chapel in white stone with two western spires was built in 1862, but the origin of the congregation here dates from the preaching of Whitfield on the Heath in 1739. The watch-house and stocks were formerly situated at the foot of Heath Street, and later removed to Flask Walk. About Golden Square there are many little irregular entwined streets and passages, with here and there a cottage, here and there the flat sashed windows of a house of a bygone generation, all intricate, entangled, but very quaint and charming.
The Grove is a long shady avenue, with one or two fine old houses on either side of the road and a few cottages. At the top is a big boys' school. On the east in one building are Old and New Grove Houses, and opposite is Fenton House, which was long known as the Clock House. New Grove House was the residence of Du Maurier. At the north end is the Hampstead Waterworks reservoir.
A tree-shaded eminence, crowned with pleasant seats and commanding a magnificent view of the Heath, leads to Branch Hill. This, marked in Park's map Prospect Walk, is now called the Judge's Walk. This name is derived from a tradition that the judges came here and held their courts under canvas while the plague was raging in 1665. But derivations of this sort are very easy to make up and entirely unreliable.
Lower and Upper Terraces just behind are full of charming residences. In the former Constable lived at intervals (No. 2) during 1821, and to the latter Mrs. Siddons came in the autumn of 1804. In Montague House Sir G. Scott lived.
Branch Hill runs down into Frognal Rise, and on the west there are one or two big houses scattered about.
Branch Hill Lodge belonged to Sir Thomas Clarke, Master of the Rolls in 1745, who presented it to Lord Chancellor Macclesfield. It was for a period the residence of the Earl of Rosslyn, and tradition connects Lord Byron's name with it. It stands in beautiful and extensive grounds. Further along Branch Hill Road there are many new terraces and one or two big houses.
Hollybush Hill is in a straight line with High Street, and between it and Heath Street there are curious little steep passages and alleys, which resemble those found in some Continental towns. Hollybush Hill is associated with the name of Romney the artist, who lived here and built a studio in 1796. He was then sixty-two, the zenith of his career was past, he suffered from ill-health and was morbid and irritable. The studio was converted into Assembly Rooms after his death, and is now incorporated into the Constitutional Club building which adjoins. This club is social and Conservative. The exterior is of rusticated woodwork, and a flagstaff stands before it. In the curious little side-street known as Holly Mount is the front of the Hollybush Tavern, a stuccoed building with a somewhat fantastic wooden porch or veranda. Three houses in a row face the open space at the top of Hollybush Hill. The most easterly possesses a charming old ironwork gate supported by old brick piers and the inevitable stone balls. This is protected by an outer modern gate. All three houses stand back behind gardens, so that only glimpses of them can be seen from the road.
In Bolton House, the most westerly of the three, Joanna Baillie, dramatic writer, and her sister Agnes lived. Mr. Shaw, writing in the "Dictionary of National Biography," says: "Geniality and hospitality were the characteristics of the two sisters during their residence at Hampstead, and even when one became an octogenarian and the other a nonagenarian they could enter keenly into the various literary and scientific controversies of the day." This is next door to the house known as Windmill Hill, which is also the name given to the locality. Opposite is Mount Vernon, where the Hospital for Consumption stands, a pleasant red-brick building which contains accommodation for eighty in-patients; the out-patient department is in Fitzroy Square. A new wing was opened by Princess Christian in 1893. On the sloping ground near the old workhouse used to stand; before it was a workhouse, Colley Cibber used to meet Booth and Wilkes to arrange his dramatic campaigns in this building.
Behind the hospital is a Roman Catholic chapel, in which Mary Anderson was married. This was built in 1816, and the founder was the Abbe Morel. The front is stuccoed, and in a niche there is a group of Virgin and Child. Close by a stone slab bears the name "Holly Place, 1816."
St. Vincent's Roman Catholic Orphanage occupies No.'s 1, 2, 3, Holly Place. To the west are big National schools and playgrounds, and a curving hill called Hollybush Vale runs into the modern part of Heath Street. On the west of Heath Street are Oriel Place and Church Lane. At the corner of the latter is the Sailors' Orphan Girls' Home. This is a big formal building, with none of the architectural beauty which marks the sister establishment on Rosslyn Hill. The institution, however, claims an older date, having been founded in 1829. The present building was opened in 1869 by the Duke of Edinburgh. The girls are kept from six to sixteen years of age and trained for domestic service. Their uniform is the naval colour, dark blue. This road, running past the building formerly called Greenhill, is now merged into Fitz John's Avenue.
Church Row is almost entirely old, one of the most lovable and quiet parts of the parish—houses of brick with flat-sashed windows, projecting porches with carved brackets, here and there red tiles, here and there a bower of jasmine and ivy. One house covered with rusticated woodwork projects above the ground-floor in a bay carried up to the roof.
Dr. Sherlock, Dean of St. Paul's, and a great theological and controversial writer in the reigns of William III. and Anne, and Dr. Arbuthnot were former residents in the Row, and the great Dr. Johnson stayed at Frognal Park in the vicinity. Mrs. Barbauld (see p. 25) and Miss Aikin are also to be numbered among the residents. There is an industrial school for girls, and at the western end of the Row the parish church (St. John the Evangelist) rears its tower beyond a line of small lime-trees. The place has, however, recently been disfigured by high mansions.
The parish of Hampstead was originally included in that of Hendon. The churchwardens of Hampstead first appeared at the Bishop's visitation in 1598, which therefore marks the beginning of an actual parochial settlement, though the register commences in 1560, nearly forty years earlier. Until 1561 it was considered as a donative or free chapel, and after that date it became a perpetual curacy, subject to the jurisdiction of the Bishop and the Archdeacon.
The first church or chapel, which stood on the same site as the present one, must have been a curious little structure, if one may judge from the illustrations still extant—a low-pitched Gothic building with wooden belfry. This was dedicated to St. Mary, and the date of its origin is unknown. In 1745 it was taken down, and services were held in the chapel in Well Walk for two years, while the new church was being built. The building itself is of a kind of dingy earth-brick, which, in spite of the conspicuous date, 1745, at the east end, looks as fresh and sharp-edged as if it were of yesterday. The body of the church is mercifully clothed in ivy, but the square tower, with its abnormal battlements and stone courses and facings, rises up nakedly. The peculiarity of the church is that the tower is at the east end. The conical copper spire was added in 1784. An old clock-dial of stone faces eastward.
To raise funds for the building of the church a plan was formed by which those who gave L50 were to have first choice of seats, and to have the additional privilege of handing on such seats to their heirs. This arrangement continued until 1827. Besides many minor alterations and improvements, a thorough rearrangement of the interior took place in 1878. Then a chancel was added at the west end, and thus we have beneath it the open-arched vaults which form its support. The old pews were done away with, and the interior redecorated. The reredos is of mosaic work. The font is of Siena marble "with moulded bases and carved Ionic capitals of white statuary." The general scheme of decoration is of a free Renaissance colour. The restoration cost L14,000. The ceiling is very elaborately decorated, and in a side chapel is a large fresco painting. The choir is ornamented by beautiful inlaid wood, in the same style as the font cover. There is an excellent bust of Keats, presented by American admirers in 1894.
The churchyard is a peculiarly peaceful spot, surrounded by trees, beeches, acacia, and evergreens. There are no abnormal monstrosities such as are found among the tombstones of our big cemeteries, but plain altar-tombs, crosses, and upright slabs of stone. The main entrance is by flagged walks between neatly-trimmed hedges, and from this foreground even the church looks almost picturesque.
The tomb of John Constable the artist, his wife, and some of his children, is in a shaded corner in the south-east. Joanna Baillie is buried here, and Lucy Aikin, also Lord Erskine, and many minor artists. The churchyard was enlarged in 1738, and in 1811 an additional ground was formed on the north side of the road. Here, though it is very peaceful, there is not the same charm as there is about the older ground. Mrs. Rundle Charles, author of "The Chronicles of the Schonberg Cotta Family," rests here, with a plain Iona marble cross bearing date 1896, as her memorial.
The more important of the parish charities are:
The Wells and Campden Charity, originating in the Gainsborough bequest of the well and six acres of land in Well Walk. In 1642 Lady Campden bequeathed L200 to trustees to purchase land for the poor of the parish, and to this other legacies were added. Freehold land was purchased at Child's Hill, and in 1855 the distribution of the money was reorganized.
The oldest parish benefactor was Thomas Charles, who in 1617 left money to buy bread for the poor of the parish. The bread is still bought and distributed. Various other bequests of small amounts were made from time to time. About 1723 the then Bishop of London, John Robinson, left L169 odd for the poor.
The succeeding bequests were below this in value until 1771, when William Pierce, a surgeon, left the interest on L1,700 in 3 per cents. to endow a Friday evening lecture, to pay the parish clerk and others for attendance, and to buy Bibles and Prayer-Books. John Stock's Charity produces nearly L80 per annum for the clothing and education of poor children. The next in importance was Thomas Rumsey's gift of L900, the interest on which was to buy coals for the poor. The other bequests are too numerous and too small in amount to mention.
The origin of the name of Frognal is not known, though the locality is of some importance, as it contained the old manor-house where the Courts Leet were held. The demesne lands at Frognal occupied from four to five hundred acres of the best land stretching from Child's Hill to Belsize. The old manor-house, which stood at the north-east corner of West End Lane, was a long, low farmhouse building which contained a big hall. Mr. Pool, a lessee, pulled it down and built a brick house on the site, and, later, built a small house on the south side of the lane, where he went to live himself. The Courts followed him, and were held there. There are now on the site of the ancient manor-house two buildings side by side; the one to which the ancient title has descended appears the more modern. The Ferns next door looks older, in spite of Howitt's assertion that the manor-house built by Mr. Pool is the same now bearing the name, and The Ferns occupies the site of the former manor-house. There are numerous substantial and comfortable houses in the vicinity. Frognal Hall, near the west end of the church, was the residence of Isaac Ware, architect, and here Lord Alvanley died.
To the north-west are a row of new buildings, forming a crescent on the hill called Oakhill Park, and to one of these Miss Florence Nightingale is a frequent visitor during the summer months. At the top of Frognal Gardens the Editor of this survey lived. Returning again to West End Lane, we find the hand of the modern builder everywhere apparent. Until recently a mock antique erection in the Gothic style known as Frognal Priory formed a feature in the landscape; this has quite disappeared. It was built by a dealer in curios known as "Memory" Thompson about the end of the eighteenth century, and was full of curiosities. The owner was pleased to have visitors to inspect his property, and it is said that one of his freaks was to leave five-shilling pieces lying about for them to pick up. Lower down the Frognal Road all is modern, and we come into the part formerly known as Shepherd's or Conduit Fields. There was a spring here which used to be the principal source of the Hampstead water-supply. The water was carried in pails by persons who thus earned a livelihood. An old woodcut of this well is still extant; it is represented as a spring with an arch over it. The building of Fitz-John's Avenue, cutting right through the fields, quite destroyed their character, and they are now more or less covered with streets.
Rosslyn House, which stood between Wedderburn and Lyndhurst Roads, deserves a word of mention as one of the latest of the famous old Hampstead houses to be destroyed. It was originally called Shelford House, but changed its name when it became the property of Alexander Wedderburn, first Earl of Rosslyn, Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, 1793. It was noted for its magnificent avenue of Spanish chestnuts said to have been planted in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Elizabethan relics have been found in the vicinity. The grounds are now cut up and let for building purposes. Woodlands, another fine large house, is also shorn of its glory, roads having been driven through its leafy gardens.
West End Ward embraces that portion of Hampstead which is limited by the Hampstead junction railway on the south and the Finchley Road on the east.
West End still preserves the character of a little hamlet, though surrounded on all sides by new streets. The name arose from its being the western terminus of the demesne lands. The small triangular bit of green at the junction of Fortune Green and Mill Lanes preserves its rural aspect, with two little tumbledown, creeper-covered cottages overlooking it, though it will probably before long suffer from the plague of red brick. To the south there is a line of buildings and shops, with a few—a very few—of older date wedged in between the new ones. West End Hall, a square red-brick house of respectable antiquity, stands back behind a rather dilapidated wooden palisade, but a row of magnificent elms lines the street before it. Beyond it are one or two other houses in their own grounds. Here a fair was formerly held annually on July 26 and two following days.
Mill Lane was formerly Shoot-up-Hill Lane, a name now absorbed by a portion of the northern road into which it runs on the west. The present name is derived from a mill which stood in the Edgware Road, and was burnt in 1861, owing to the friction caused by the high velocity of the sails in a gale of wind. A building called Kilburn Mill still marks the western end of the lane, though it is in a dilapidated condition, with the windows broken. Mill Lane was widened by the Vestry, and now runs between rows of small houses, all of modern date. At the top of Aldred Road is a big brick building, the Field Lane Boys' Industrial School. At the corner of the same road stood an unpretentious little church, built in 1871; it has been pulled down in the last few years. A little further eastward in Mill Lane is a national school looking rather like a chapel, and then we come to the Green again.
There is little in Fortune Green Lane that calls for comment. On the west side it is completely lined with small new houses. The Green at the top still remains open for the geese to hiss and cackle over at their will. The Hampstead cemetery lies on the north. This consists of about 20 acres of land, and two-thirds of it was consecrated by the Bishop of London in 1876, the remainder being left unconsecrated. A smooth drive runs down between close-shaven turf, and is lined by rows of singularly uniform monuments, of which two-thirds are in the form of marble crosses. The chapel, with its two wings for Church of England and Nonconformists, connected by a pointed spire and tower, stands across the central drive as an archway. There is a different kind of fascination in this well-kept, quiet spot from that derived from the irregularity of sloping Highgate or the monstrous tombs and overpowering vaults at Kensal Town. There are many persons buried here whose names are known to those of their own country and time, but none of any world-wide note. Maas the singer is perhaps the most important among them. We have now commented on the principal parts of the ward, except the great eastern and western roads by which it is bounded.
Finchley Road bounds the borough on the west. Beginning at Swiss Cottage, we recall the fact that Hood died in a house near the present railway-station which is now pulled down. The first building that strikes the eye is New College, for Nonconformists, a big stone edifice standing on a green lawn behind a row of small trees. On the opposite side, further northward, building operations are taking place on a large scale. On the west side again is Trinity Church, date 1872, a small church of ragstone with red-tiled roof. We travel much further on before arriving at any other feature of interest, passing Finchley Road Station and the shops gathered in the vicinity, also the Hampstead Public Library, a big building at the corner of Arkwright Road. Hampstead was comparatively slow in adopting the Public Library Act. The site for its library was acquired from Sir Maryon Wilson, and the stone was laid by Sir Henry Harben, who had given L5,000 for the erection of the building. Five branch libraries are established in connection, and the main one is chiefly for reference. This was opened in 1897. Further on, we pass on the east numerous rows of red-brick houses, and on the west the fields and meadow-lands still open.
Then we come to a huge red brick building with terra-cotta facings; this was founded in 1866, and is intended both as a college and seminary. It belongs to the Congregationalists, and their chapel attached is of the same materials, and was founded in 1894. Another well-known institution is Westfield College for ladies, which stands in Kidderpore Avenue on the rising ground to the west of Finchley Road. The front of the house, in which the entrance is, is an old building called Kidderpore Hall, and to this the large modern wing inhabited by the students was added in 1890. The work is for the London Degrees in Arts and Sciences. There are forty-five students, and each one has two rooms, a larger allowance than is made at Girton. Through the fields, beyond the cemetery, a winding footpath takes us over the railway into the Edgware Road.
The part of the road which goes by the name of Shuttup Hill or Shoot-up-Hill deserves some comment. The Knights Templars anciently held an estate here of which the origin is obscure. At the Dissolution King Henry seized it, and handed it over to the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem. But their turn was to come also. In 1540 the King despoiled them, and gave Shoot-up-Hill to Sir Roger Cholmeley. At a later date we find that this and the estate at Kilburn were vested in the same holder, Sir Arthur Atye and Judith his wife.
There is very little to remark on in this hill. A few of the houses on the west are not aggressively modern, but those on the east are all startlingly new. St. Cuthbert's Church, built in 1887, stands at the end of St. Cuthbert's Road.
Howitt derives the name of Kilburn from Kule-bourne or Coal-brook. The earliest mention of this locality is when one Godwyn, a hermit, retired here in the reign of Henry I., and "built a cell near a little rivulet, called in different records Cuneburne, Keelebourne, Coldbourne, and Kilbourne, on a site surrounded with wood." This stream is the same which passed southward to the Serpentine, and empties itself into the Thames at Chelsea, called in its lower course the Westbourne.
Between 1128 and 1134 Godwyn granted his hermitage to the conventual church of St. Peter, Westminster. The Abbot, with the consent of the convent, gave it to three pious maidens, Emma, Gunhilda, and Cristina, who are said to have been maids of honour to Queen Matilda. They were to live here, and Godwyn was to be master warden, and on his death they were to choose some staid and senior person to fill his place. It is to be gathered that the maidens were bound to celibacy, though no particular monastic rule seems to have been enjoined. In the ensuing years there were jealousies between the Bishop of London and the Abbot of Westminster, who both claimed jurisdiction over the Priory. The Pope, in 1224, who arbitrated, gave the award in the Abbot's favour, but the Bishop appealed to the Bishops of Rochester and Prior of Dunstable, and, as they were on his side, he calmly assumed authority. The Priory was enriched by various grants and privileges, and its devotees increased in number. At the dissolution of the monasteries the King gave it to the Prior of St. John of Jerusalem in exchange for some lands he wanted. But in 1540 he wrested it from him, and regranted it to Robert, Earl of Sussex. As has been mentioned above, Kilburn eventually came into the same holding as Shoot-up-Hill.
A sketch of the Priory as it remained in 1772 is still extant, and shows a little barn-like building with exterior buttresses and gable-ends. Needless to say that no trace of it now remains, though its memory is perpetuated in the names of Priory, Abbots, and Abbey Roads.
When the foundations for the London and North-Western Railway were dug in 1850 various relics were found—tessellated tiles, human bones, and a bunch of old-fashioned keys, etc.—which pointed to the fact that the Priory had stood on that site. This spot is still pointed out not far from Kilburn Station, close by the place where Priory Road goes over the railway. It is a most uninteresting spot at present, with dull respectable middle-class shops leading up to it.
A legend of Kilburn given in Timbs' "Romance of London" may be alluded to here. It states that at "a place called St. John's Wood, near Kilburn," there was a stone stained dark-red with the blood of Sir Gervase de Mertoun, who was slain by his brother, who had become enamoured of his wife. Gervase, with his dying breath, exclaimed: "This stone shall be my deathbed!" The brother Stephen suffered remorse for his crime, and ordered a handsome mausoleum to be erected to his victim's memory, which was to be built of stone taken from the quarry where the murder was committed. As the eye of the murderer rested on a certain stone, blood was seen to issue from it. This completed the murderer's horror and remorse; he confessed his fault and died shortly after, leaving his property to Kilburn Priory.
Kilburn Wells became famous about the middle of the eighteenth century, and soon rivalled those of Hampstead as a place of entertainment. Even so late as 1818 they were a favourite resort for Londoners.
The High Road at Kilburn, continuing in a straight line into Maida Vale and the Edgware Road, is the old Watling Street of the Romans.
As a street it possesses little interest. Lines of modern red-brick buildings with shops on the ground-floor form the main part of it, and further south the shops are smaller, the buildings more irregular.
In the remainder of the ward pleasant rows of moderate-sized houses with small trees growing before them form the majority of the streets.
In Priory Road is St. Mary's Church, a fine stone edifice in the Gothic style, dating from 1857. Behind this are open fields, rapidly being encroached upon by the builder.
In Quex Road there is a large Wesleyan chapel with a big portico, close by a Roman Catholic church with high-pitched roof, which instantly recalls the Carmelite Church at Kensington; the architect was the same, Pugin. It was built in 1878, and inside is lofty and light, with polished gray granite pillars supporting the roof.
A slight account of the Manor of Belsize has been given above (see p. 2). The manor-house stood about the site of the present church, St. Peter's, and Rocque's map of 1745 shows it in the middle of very extensive grounds surrounded by fields. In the beginning of the eighteenth century the house was a place of public entertainment. In some newspaper cuttings from the Daily Post, date 1720, we read that the "ancient and noble house" had been fitted up for the entertainment of ladies and gentlemen during the whole summer season, and was to be opened with "uncommon Solemnity of Dancing and Music." Among the entertainments mentioned are the Park, Bowling Green, and Fish Ponds. The latter were stored with the "best of Carp and other Fish," and the company might amuse themselves by angling or catching them with nets, when they should be "dressed to perfection." We hear also that the Park was well stocked with deer, and in August, 1721, a notice was issued. "Besides the usual Diversions, there is to be a wild Fox Hunted To Morrow, the 1st inst., to begin at four a clock." One hundred coaches could stand in the square of the house, if we may trust the advertiser, and "Twelve men will continue to guard the Road every night till the last of the Company are gone." There was a satirical poem called "Belsize House," published in 1722, showing that the house had earned a bad reputation. Belsize Avenue, Park Gardens, and Buckland Crescent are all built over the property. There is a tradition that the house was the private residence of the Right Hon. Sir Spencer Perceval, when it ceased to be a place of amusement in 1745. In 1841 the place was demolished, and the site transformed as we now see it.
Belsize Lane is very old, being marked between hedges in Rocque's 1745 map, and shown as leading to the grounds of the manor-house. Baines says that about 1839 "Belsize Lane was long, narrow, and lonesome; midway in it was a very small farm, and near thereto the owner of Belsize House erected a turnpike gate to demonstrate his rights of possession."
The lane at present boasts a few shops and modern red-brick houses, but it is greatly bounded by high garden walls, and the gardens reaching from the backs of the houses in Belsize Avenue.
Belsize Avenue is a park-like road, from which on the south side stretch the meadows of Belsize Park. Large elm-trees of great age throw shade across the road, and seats afford rest to those climbing the ascent to Haverstock Hill. Up to 1835 a five-barred gate closed the east-end and made the road private.
In Belsize Square stands the Church of St. Peter, with a square pinnacled tower. This was consecrated in 1859, and the chancel added some seventeen years later. It is in the decorated style of Gothic, and has a row of picturesque gable-ends lining the north-east side.
Belsize and Buckland Crescents and Belsize Park Gardens are all in the same pleasant villa-like style, with trees and bushes growing beside the roadway, but their chief claim to interest lies in their association with the old manor-house.
The southern part of this ward is still more modern than the above, the greater part having been built over since 1851. Eton Avenue is lined by prettily-built, moderate-sized houses of bright red brick alternating with open spaces yet unbuilt on.
The north-eastern corner of the ward, including Eton Road, Provost Road, Oppidans Road, College Road, and Fellows Road, is made up of medium houses, many covered with rough stucco, and with a profusion of flowering trees and bushes in the small gardens. This section of the parish might well be part of some fashionable and fresh watering-place. At No. 6, Eton Road lived Robertson, author of "Caste" and other plays. St. Saviour's Church, built of ragstone, is at the corner of Eton and Provost Roads; it is in Early English style, consecrated 1856.
Fellows Road runs into Steele Road, near the end of which, on Haverstock Hill, is the Sir Richard Steele public-house. These names commemorate a real fact. Sir Richard Steele had a cottage on Haverstock Hill, of which prints are still extant. They show a funny little square, barn-like building with pent house-roof, set in the middle of fields and surrounded by trees. With a vividness of detail that does more credit to his imagination than his eye the artist has depicted St. Paul's Cathedral in the not very far distance!
England's Lane in 1839 was bounded on the south side by palings and a wall, and on the north side by low palings and a ditch full of water.
Three houses there were in it, Chalcots, North Hall, and Wychcomb. In a view of the lane in 1864 we see a leafy country road with fine timber growing over it. The lane at present is chiefly lined by shops, though there are a few private houses.
In the Upper Avenue Road stands a large brick building with stuccoed facings; it is the institution of the Society for Teaching the Blind, founded in 1838. In 1840 certain industrial occupations were added to the tuition in reading, which had been the primary object of the foundation. After moving to several localities in succession, in 1847 the present site was obtained. In 1864 the building was enlarged, and external workshops have since been added. The institution is entirely supported by voluntary contributions, though a few paying pupils are admitted. The pupils are taught any industrial trade which may support them in after-life, such as piano-tuning, knitting, chair-caning, basket-making, as well as the usual branches of a useful education. They are admitted at any age under eight, and leave at twenty-one if men, and twenty-four if women. There are day-scholars in attendance as well as those resident in the house.
In Winchester Road are a few shops and St. Paul's parochial schools. Where Eton Avenue and Adamson Road join there is the Hampstead conservatoire of music, a large brick building.
Professor Hales suggests that the word Haverstock in Haverstock Hill may come from "aver," the Low Latin averia meaning cattle. He says that, as in Rocque's map Pond is Pound Street, perhaps a cattle pound stood here. The hill is at present a toilsome ascent, but most picturesque; masses of shady trees in the grounds of Woodlands and Hillfield hang over the seats placed for wayfarers, and on the east side, in spring, bushes of flowering lilac or laburnum soften the picturesque red tiles and bricks of the well-built modern houses. Here and there a small row of shops forms a straight line, but between them the villa houses are dotted about at any angle.
Of public buildings or institutions on the hill there are not many. The Borough Hall, a red-brick building in the Italian style, stands at the corner of Belsize Avenue. It was built in 1876, and first used for the Cambridge Local Examination for Women.
Further up on the other side is St. Stephen's Church, which differs very much from the ordinary church of the last half-century. It stands well, surrounded by an enclosure of green grass, on a spot formerly called Hampstead Green. The best view is obtained from Lyndhurst Road. Just below it is the entrance to the immense buildings of the North-Western Hospital. The brick wall encloses a house and front-garden at one time belonging to Sir Rowland Hill. This site was acquired by the Metropolitan Asylums Board in 1868, and was destined to be used for cases of infectious disease, a plan which provoked the greatest agitation in the parish. In 1870 a severe epidemic of small-pox broke out, and some wards were hastily built in addition to those which had already been used for fever patients. As this was followed by an outbreak of small-pox in the parish, the parishioners very naturally wished the hospital to be removed, but without result. In 1876 another outbreak and a further congregation of patients had the same result, and after a long and protracted fight the inhabitants of Hampstead obtained a verdict preventing the Asylums Board from using the hospital for small-pox, though fever cases were not prohibited. In 1882 a Royal Commission inquired into the facts regarding the spread of disease from hospitals, and gave as their decision that thirty or forty patients might safely be treated when a larger number would be injurious to the neighbourhood. The Asylums Board eventually came to terms, agreeing to restrict the hospital cases of small-pox to the number mentioned, to pay the plaintiffs' costs, and an additional L1,000 by way of damages; but they demanded that Sir Rowland's property should be sold to them.
The terms were accepted, and the hospital henceforth was known as the North-Western Hospital. In 1884 another epidemic of small-pox caused them to fill the limited number of beds agreed upon, but as this also was followed by an outbreak of the disease in Hampstead, a fresh appeal was made by the local authorities, and ended in victory, no more small-pox patients being received. The hospital was in full use during the scarlet fever epidemic of 1888.
Close by the entrance to the hospital is an ancient inn, The George. It has been repaired and renovated, but still shows its picturesquely ancient lines. In front of the inn there used to be tea-gardens. A convent of the Sisters of Providence is not far south. Looking up Haverstock Hill from Chalk Farm there is an almost unbroken line of greenery. Moderate-sized houses stand back on either side in their gardens.
The Load of Hay was originally a very old inn, but has been rebuilt recently, and is now a hideous yellow-brick public-house, with date 1863. Just opposite the Load of Hay lived Sir Richard Steele, in a picturesque two-storied cottage, already mentioned. The cottage was later divided into two, and in 1867 was pulled down.
Park Road is a long thoroughfare of no particular interest. At the north end a range of red-brick, wide-windowed buildings attract attention. These are studios, occupied by some of the artists for which Hampstead is famous; among the names perhaps that of W. Q. Orchardson, R.A., is the best known. Beyond are the London Street Tramway Companies stables, and to the north and east we get into a district very poor and slummy for such a fresh, pleasant suburb as Hampstead.
The Fleet Road recalls the Fleet River, which had origin among the hills of Hampstead and flowed down over this course. The hospital wall lines one side of this dreary street. At the upper end, where two or three roads meet, there is a fountain and pump, and this open space is known as the Green and Pond Street. Pond Street seems to have alternately encroached upon and receded from the Green, houses being named in one or the other according to fancy. The street is steep and irregularly built. It was about this site that some of the first houses in Hampstead were built.
On the south-east side of the lane which leads to the hospital Sir Sydney Godolphin Osborne resided. Sir Rowland Hill has been already mentioned. Prince Talleyrand stayed in a house afterwards occupied by Sir Francis Palgrave, and later by Teulon the architect. In the adjoining house was Edward Irving, founder of the sect of that name, and next to him the sculptor Bacon. Collins the artist also lived in Pond Street. In No. 21 there is at present an Industrial Home for Girls.
Adelaide Ward contains very little that is of interest. The streets are all of one pattern, formed of detached or semi-detached villas standing a little back from the road, with small trees growing before them.
The three churches in this part—namely, St. Paul's, Avenue Road; All Souls, Loudoun Road; and St. Mary the Virgin, Primrose Hill Road—all date from the last thirty or forty years, and are in the same style, built of brick, and requiring no special notice.
Primrose Hill rises to the height of 216 feet in a conical shape, and commands a magnificent view. The earliest name was Barrow Hill, and the name Primrose Hill was first used in the reign of Queen Elizabeth; it originated, it is said, from the quantity of primroses which grew here. Professor Hales, in an address to the Hampstead Antiquarian and Historical Society, quoted from the "Roxburgh Ballads," printed about 1620:
"When Philomel begins to sing, The grass grows green and flowers spring, Methinks it is a pleasant thing To walk on Primrose Hill."
It was in a ditch on Primrose Hill that the body of Sir Edmondbury Godfrey, who was mysteriously murdered, was found in 1678. Soon after Queen Victoria's accession the hill was obtained by the Crown as a public space for the people for ever, the provost and fellows of Eton surrendering their rights in consideration of an exchange of land.
The derivation of the odd name of Chalk Farm was not from any chalk found in the vicinity, but is a corruption of Chalcots, a country house or farm which stood on the south side of England's Lane. Contemporary prints show us a large white house with balconies and pleasure-grounds, for the house was at one time one of the minor tea-gardens in which the North of London seemed particularly rich.
Chalk Farm was a favourite spot for duels in the earlier half of the nineteenth century. The Adelaide Tavern dates from 1839, and facing the spot there was previously a toll-house with turnpike gate.
We have now traversed the length and breadth of Hampstead, finding there much that is picturesque, some few things ancient and many modern; and above all we have experienced some of the charm and freshness of this favoured spot. It is not difficult to see why Hampstead has been so frequently selected as a home by artists—and not by artists alone, but by literary men of all classes. Its natural advantages and its many associations have exercised, and continue to exercise, a fascination which draws men potently, in spite of some drawbacks, not the least of which is its inaccessibility.
The derivation of this name is simple. Lysons says: "The name of this place was anciently called Tiburn, from its situation near a small bourn or rivulet formerly called Aye-brook or Eye-brook, and now Tybourn Brook. When the site of the church was altered to another spot, near the same brook, it became St. Mary at the Bourne, now corrupted to St. Mary le bone or Marybone." There is a possibility that the "bourne" did not indicate the brook, but the boundary of the parish, in which case Marybone would still be a corruption of St. Mary at the Bourne.
The borough of Marylebone is unique in many respects. It contains many well-known and magnificent houses, such as Montagu House, Portman Square; Hertford House, Manchester Square, where is Sir Richard Wallace's collection of pictures and curiosities; Portland House, Cavendish Square; and others. More than two-thirds of Regent's Park are within its boundaries, including nearly all the Zoological Gardens. In some parts of the borough the street lists furnish many titled and famous names; in others are the poorest and most squalid districts, rivalling in misery those of the East End.
Many foreign embassies are located within the parish boundaries. But the most striking characteristic is the great number of hospitals. There are hospitals for special diseases everywhere, besides large institutions which have acquired more than Metropolitan fame.
The ancient Tyburn stream ran right through this district. It rose not far from Swiss Cottage, and ran for a few hundred yards through Regent's Park, across the road at Sussex Place, between Gloucester Place and Baker Street, across the Marylebone Road, then, turning westward under Madame Tussaud's, by South Street to the foot of High Street, passing along close to Mandeville Place, it crossed Wigmore Street and so reached Oxford Street.
The manor of Tyburn is mentioned in Domesday Book among the possessions of the Abbess and Convent of Barking. Early in the thirteenth century it was held by Robert de Vere, whose daughter married William de Insula, Earl of Warren and Surrey, from whom the manor passed to their heirs, the Fitzalans, Earls of Arundel. The Berkeleys, Nevilles and Howards divided three-quarters of it later, and one quarter went to Henry V. as heir of the Earls of Derby.
About the end of the fifteenth century Thomas Hobson bought up the greater part of the manor, and in 1544 his son Thomas exchanged it with Henry VIII. in consideration of lands elsewhere.
The manor remained with the Crown until James I. sold it to one Edward Forset, who had previously held it at a fixed rental under Elizabeth. James reserved to the Crown the tract of land then known as Marylebone, now Regent's, Park. Sir John Austen, Forset's grandson, sold the estate to John Holles, Duke of Newcastle, for L17,500. The Duke of Newcastle's only child, Henrietta, married Edward Harley, who succeeded his father as Earl of Oxford and Mortimer. He carried on his father's collection of books and MSS., and formed what was afterwards known as the Harleian Collection, which was bought by the trustees of the British Museum for L10,000. Henrietta's only daughter, Margaret, married William Bentinck, second Earl of Portland, and thus the estates passed to the Portland family.
In the west was another manor, that of Lyllestone, a name still preserved in the corruption, "Lisson" Grove. This manor is mentioned in Domesday Book among the lands in the hundred of Ossulston. In 1338 it was in the hands of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. Sir William de Clyf held it from the knights. In 1512 the then Lord Prior granted a parcel of land out of the manor to John and Johan Blennerhasset on a fifty years' lease. On their decease Chief Justice Portman acquired their interest, afterwards obtaining the land in fee simple, and thus creating the Portman estate. This estate comprised 270 acres. The remainder of Lyllestone Manor included several estates of importance. The St. John's Wood estate was granted by Charles II. to Lord Wotton in discharge of a debt. In 1732 it was bought by Samuel Eyre, after whom it was known as the Eyre Estate.
Another estate lying along the Edgware Road was bequeathed to Harrow School by John Lyon. A third was known as City Conduit Estate. The borough at present embraces the Eyre estate at St. John's Wood, the Baker estate, comprising the poor district to the west of Lisson Grove, the Portman estate, the Portland estate, and other land, including the park held by the Crown.
Beginning our ramble at St. John's Wood Station in the heart of the borough, we find ourselves near the well-known Lord's Cricket Ground. Thomas Lord first made a cricket-ground in what is now Dorset Square, and in 1814 it was succeeded by the present one, which is the headquarters of the Marylebone Cricket Club, the club that gives laws to the cricketing world. Among the most popular matches which take place here are the annual contests between Oxford and Cambridge, Eton and Harrow, when the resources of space are taxed to the utmost. Besides these, during the season, the M.C.C. matches, the Middlesex Club matches, and Gentlemen v. Players are played here. Lord's has been increased many times since its inauguration; most recently by a piece of ground, about two acres, which was formerly part of the site of the Clergy Orphanage. This was presented by the Great Central Railway Company in return for the privilege of being permitted to tunnel a corner of the cricket ground.
The extension of the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Railway, now known as the Great Central Railway, has completely altered the face of Marylebone. The demolition caused by it extends up the west side of the Wellington and Finchley Roads; but it is further south that the greatest changes have taken place. St. John's Wood Road is itself untouched, the line passing under it.
The part of the parish lying to the west and north contains nothing of any exceptional interest. There are wide roads and well-built terraces, and an air of prosperity that speaks well for the neighbourhood. A Home for Incurable Children, founded in 1873, is near the Maida Vale end of St. John's Wood Road, and in Hamilton Terrace is St. Mark's Church, in modern Gothic style; a Presbyterian church and several chapels are also to be found in this neighbourhood.
Returning to the point from whence we set out, we find St. John's Wood Chapel, which is in the classical style, designed by Hardwicke in 1814. The chapel stands well at the junction of four important roads; its Ionic portico is dignified and suitable to the position. The body of the chapel is covered with ivy, and the windows look down on a large burial-ground, now open as a public garden, which is peculiarly bright and well kept. In it are many fine trees, chiefly willows, which overhang the seats placed for public comfort. The gravestones, which are many, have not been removed, and with few exceptions are of the regular round-topped pattern. In the vault beneath the chapel lies the wife of Benjamin West, P.R.A. In 1833 there had been about 40,000 persons buried in this ground, and it is probable this number was greatly exceeded before the burials ceased. Joanna Southcott was buried here in 1814.
Further north in the Finchley Road All Saints' Church stands up conspicuously. This is a fine church in the Perpendicular style, built in 1846. The chancel was added in 1866, and the tower and spire in 1889. It is really the church of the Eyre estate, and was largely built by the Eyre family. There is in it a beautiful marble font of uncommon pattern, and a pulpit to match.
This part of Marylebone, to the north of Regent's Park, has a High Street of its own—a wide street with comparatively low buildings. The vista, on looking back from the top to the trees of the burial-ground and Regent's Park, is not unattractive. The shops which line either side of the road, though small, are clean and bright. St. John's Wood Terrace is a very wide thoroughfare. In it stands St. John's Wood Church, chiefly distinguished by a very heavy portico. The church is at present used by the Congregationalists, and was formerly known as Connaught Chapel. Just beyond the chapel we come to the St. Marylebone Almshouses. They are built round three sides of a square, and enclose a quadrangle of green grass. The blue slate roofs and drab stuccoed walls form a gentle contrast. The central house, occupied by the superintendent, is fronted by a clock over the Royal Arms.