North West London
London, United kingdom
Submitted by: Kate Weingarten
Urban park between Highgate and Hamstead, the Heath contains the highest point in London, Parliament Hill.see also:
Eight hundred acres of lawns, woodlands, paths, and ponds reserved for ladies, for gents, and for water fowl, plus tennis courts, swimming pools, a running track, many, many benches, and one of London's fine small museums, Kenwood House, in private hands til 1927, with Robert Adams interiors, good furniture and art, even a cafe.
What Makes Hampstead Heath a Great Place?
There are many ways into the Heath from the surrounding neighborhoods of Highgate and Hampstead. It has bus and train transport near at hand.
It is always full of people, walking, playing, sitting, and feels safe even when you follow your whim down a little used dirt path.
Everyone seems to use the park to walk dogs, to fly kites, to participate in more organized sports (see above).
I walked on the Heath every morning for six months, and I cannot say that I noticed that the space softened English reserve. Still, it is a wonderful place and well used. The public toilets are immaculate.
History & Background
The Heath has a long history spanning several hundred years. When the Great Fire of 1666 destroyed 436 acres of the old city of London, many of the more prosperous were able to escape into the countryside, while most of the common class were forced to head to government set-up shelters on Hampstead Heath. Then, when its springs were discovered in 1698, Hampstead Heath became a spa, and one of the more fashionable areas of London. The Heath was fought over in series of long, drawn-out disputes between local inhabitants and Sir Thomas Maryon Wilson, the Lord of the Manor who tried to build over it. The legal quarrel lasted from 1831 when it was finally decided that the Heath should belong to the public. It is still a popular place, and up to 100,000 visitors have been recorded on Bank Holidays.