The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 48 Hampstead and Highgate

Hampstead Heath

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Heath Street ascends to the north from the Tube Station to the Heath. At the upper end, to the right, stands Queen Mary's Maternity Home, representing the Upper Flask Inn, where the Kit-Cat Club often met, and whither Clarissa Harlowe escaped for a while from the pursuit of Lovelace. Heath St. ends at the Whitestone Pond (where Shelley sailed paper boats for the Hampstead children), beyond which is Jack Straw's Castle, an old inn well known to Dickens. Between these is the highest point (443 feet) of Hampstead Heath (745 acres), a wide, elevated, and sandy tract on the summit and north slopes of Hampstead Hill. The Heath, kept in its picturesque natural state, is one of the most frequented open spaces near London, especially on Bank Holidays, when crowds of 100,000 persons are not unknown. The first 240 acres were secured for the public in 1871, the last 32 acres in 1924. Just beyond the inn the road forks: North End Road leads to the left, Spaniards Road runs straight on. The Views from near the inn (and from Spaniards Road) include a great part of London and the Surrey Downs (south), the Langdon Hills in Essex (east), an open and fertile tract to the north (with many small towns and villages), and the Chiltern Hills (west). The slender spire of Harrow-on-the-Hill is conspicuous to the west, and Windsor Castle is sometimes visible. Highgate occupies the north-east foreground. In clear weather the Thames may be descried to the south-east (near Gravesend). The glittering roof of the Crystal Palace is often visible to the south.