The Garden Guide

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

Old Hampstead

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Hampstead Tube Station, at the junction of Heath St. and High St., stands in the centre of Old Hampstead, which deserves a visit for its Heath, its views, its literary associations, and its picturesque 18th century houses and quaintly irregular streets, courts, and alleys. Almost opposite the station is the Everyman Theatre. The manor of Hamstede (i.e. 'Homestead') is first mentioned in a charter of King Edgar (957-75) and was granted to Westminster Abbey by King Ethelred in 986. It reverted to the Crown in 1550, and ultimately came into the possession of Sir Thomas Spencer Wilson (close of 18th century), whose descendants surrendered their manorial rights in the Heath in 1871 (now vested in the London County Council). The chalybeate springs of Hampstead, discovered in the 17th century, were much frequented in the early 18th century; and since then Old Hampstead has been a favourite residence of authors and artists. From the 16th to the 18th century Hampstead Heath was a notorious haunt of highwaymen.