Part 1 - West Heath
The Village of Hampstead, just four miles from the centre of London, first became famous in the early 18th century as a pleasure resort for its medicinal springs. It was claimed by doctors that the waters were a cure for most ailments. It was also famous for its magnificent surrounding views, standing as it does on an eminence overlooking the City of London. It has the distinction of having the highest pub in London - Jack Straw's Castle; other famous pubs include The Old Bull & Bush, immortalized in the old musical hall song Down At The Old Bull & Bush, and The Spaniards Inn, where Dick Turpin was supposed to have been a customer.
The magnificent views and the health giving springs brought Hampstead many famous inhabitants and visitors - John Constable, William Hogarth, William Blake, Hugh Gaitskell, Anna Pavlova, and George Du Maurier - to name but a few. John Constable is buried in Hampstead, and painted many well known pictures of Hampstead and the Heath, which are hung in galleries all over the world.
Hampstead Heath covers 791 acres of heath, woodland, grassland, bog areas, ponds, parks, gardens, stately homes, world class art collections, and many, many other facilities. It is accounted to be London's premier open space. I'd have to agree.
Here are some of my paintings of the area:
These paintings are of the Pergola on Hampstead Heath, now Grade II listed. William Lever, (later Lord Leverhulme, who made his fortune with Sunlight soap), built a mansion (Inverforth House, now turned into luxury flats). There was a public footpath between the two parts of his property, which he was unable to get closed, so between 1906 and 1925 he had Thomas Mawson design an 800ft long pergola, over 15ft above the level of the surrounding heath to join the two parts together. The earth foundations were made from the spoil from the Northern Line Underground excavations. Click on link for more information on Thomas Mawson and his works and an aerial view of the area. The pergola was opened to the public on 31 May 1995 after extensive renovations. It is without doubt a beautiful place to walk. I like the sign, "No dogs allowed - not even yours". I don't know how long the huge, gnarled wisteria has been there; perhaps since the day it was built.
When you walk down the steps of the Pergola, you come out into the Hill Garden:
Beautifully landscaped and attended, this too was part of William Lever's estate and laid out by Thomas Mawson.
Leaving the Hill Garden, you come on to West Heath: