Coordinates: 51°33′15″N 0°10′28″W / 51.5541°N 0.1744°W / 51.5541; -0.1744

Downshire Hill, Hampstead, London NW3 - geograph.org.uk - 1669736.jpg
Downshire Hill
Hampstead is located in Greater London

 Hampstead shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ265855
London borough Camden
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district NW3
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Hampstead and Kilburn
London Assembly Barnet and Camden
List of places: UK • England • London

Hampstead is an area of London, England, 4 miles (6.4 km) north-west of Charing Cross. Part of the London Borough of Camden in Inner London, it is known for its intellectual, liberal, artistic, musical and literary associations and for Hampstead Heath, a large, hilly expanse of parkland. It has some of the most expensive housing in the London area, or indeed anywhere in the world, with large houses selling for up to £50m (2008).[1][2] The village of Hampstead has more millionaires within its boundaries than any other area of the United Kingdom.[3]




The name comes from the Anglo-Saxon words ham and stede, which means, and is a cognate of, the Modern English "homestead".

To 1900

Kenwood House, Hampstead
Roadworks on Heath Street in Hampstead around 1865, in Ford Madox Brown's painting Work
A current day view of location used for the Madox Brown painting

Although early records of Hampstead can be found in a grant by King Ethelred the Unready to the monastery of St. Peter’s at Westminster (AD 986) and it is referred to in the Domesday Book (1086), the history of Hampstead is generally traced back to the 17th century.

Trustees of the Well started advertising the medicinal qualities of the chalybeate waters (water impregnated with iron) in 1700. Although Hampstead Wells was initially most successful and fashionable, its popularity declined in the 1800s due to competition with other fashionable London spas. The spa was demolished in 1882, although a water fountain was left behind.

Hampstead started to expand following the opening of the North London Railway in the 1860s (now the London Overground with passenger services operated by Transport for London), and expanded further after the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway opened in 1907 (now part of London Underground's Northern Line) and provided fast travel to central London.

Much luxurious housing was created during the 1870s and 1880s, in the area that is now the political ward of Frognal & Fitzjohns. Much of this housing remains to this day.

20th century

In the 20th century, a number of notable buildings were created including:

Keats House, Hampstead, where Keats wrote his Ode to a Nightingale

Cultural attractions in the area include the Freud Museum, Keats House, Kenwood House, Fenton House, The Isokon building, Burgh House, and the Camden Arts Centre. The large Victorian Hampstead Library and Town Hall was recently converted and extended as a creative industries centre.

On 14 August 1975 Hampstead entered the UK Weather Records with the Highest 155-min total rainfall at 169 mm. As of November 2008 this record remains.

Mark Pevsner, the grandson of Sir Nicholas Pevsner, described Hampstead as "a large collection of roads and passages which don't go in straight lines, houses of different ages, many of them good architecture but more often it's just the way they fit together, full of nice vistas and surprises. Hampstead is a huge collection of twists and turns."[unreliable source?]


Hampstead High Street sign

Hampstead became part of the County of London in 1889 and in 1899 the Metropolitan Borough of Hampstead was formed. The borough town hall on Haverstock Hill, which was also the location of the Register Office, can be seen in newsreel footage of many celebrity civil marriages. In 1965 the metropolitan borough was abolished and its area merged with that of the Metropolitan Borough of Holborn and the Metropolitan Borough of St Pancras to form the modern-day London Borough of Camden. Hampstead is part of the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency, formed at the 2010 general election. It was formerly part of the Hampstead and Highgate constituency and since 1992 the member of parliament has been the former actress Glenda Jackson of the Labour Party.

The area is also home to the left-wing Labour magazine Tribune and the satirical magazine the Hampstead Village Voice. The local paid-for newspaper is the Hampstead and Highgate Express,[4] known locally as the "Ham & High". Hampstead is also covered by the borough-wide Camden New Journal.

Since October 2008 the area has been represented on Camden Council by Liberal Democrat councilor Linda Chung, elected in a by-election to serve alongside Conservatives Kirsty Roberts and Chris Knight.

Hampstead Liberalism

The area has a significant tradition of educated liberal humanism, often referred to (often disparagingly) as "Hampstead Liberalism". In the 1960s, the figure of the Hampstead Liberal was notoriously satirised by Peter Simple of the Daily Telegraph in the character of Lady Dutt-Pauker, an immensely wealthy aristocratic socialist whose Hampstead mansion, Marxmount House, contained an original pair of Bukharin's false teeth on display alongside precious Ming vases, neo-constructivist art, and the complete writings of Stalin.[5] As applied to an individual, the term "Hampstead Liberal" is not synonymous with "champagne socialist" but it does carry some of the same implications, and both terms have correspondingly been used to describe figures such as Margaret Hodge.[6]

Places of interest

Hampstead Heath west ponds
Isokon Building, Hampstead
Freud's sofa, at 20 Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead
St John's Church, Downshire Hill


The Viaduct on Hampstead Heath

To the north and east of Hampstead, and separating it from Highgate, is London's largest ancient parkland, Hampstead Heath, which includes the well-known and legally-protected view of the London skyline from Parliament Hill. The Heath, a major place for Londoners to walk and "take the air", has three open-air public swimming ponds; one for men, one for women, and one for mixed bathing, which were originally reservoirs for drinking water and the sources of the River Fleet. The bridge pictured is known locally as 'The Red Arches' or 'The Viaduct', built in fruitless anticipation of residential building on the Heath in the 19th century.

Local activities include major open-air concerts on summer Saturday evenings on the slopes below Kenwood House, book and poetry readings, fun fairs on the lower reaches of the Heath, period harpsichord recitals at Fenton House, Hampstead Scientific Society and Hampstead Photographic Society.

The largest employer in Hampstead is the Royal Free Hospital, Pond Street, but many small businesses based in the area have international significance. George Martin's AIR recording studios, in converted church premises in Lyndhurst Road, is a current example, as Jim Henson's Creature Shop was, before it relocated to California.

The area has some remarkable architecture, such as the Isokon building in Lawn Road, a Grade I listed experiment in collective housing, once home to Agatha Christie, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson and Walter Gropius. It was recently restored by Notting Hill Housing Trust.


  • Fenton House – Hampstead Grove, Hampstead, London, NW3 6SP[7]
  • Freud Museum – 20 Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead, London, NW3 5SX[8]
  • Burgh House & Hampstead Museum – New End Square, Hampstead, London, NW3 1LT[9]
  • Keats House Museum – Keats Grove, Hampstead, London, NW3 2RR[10]
  • Kenwood House – Hampstead Lane, Hampstead, London, NW3 7JR[11]

Theatres and cinemas


Hampstead is well known for its traditional pubs, such as the Holly Bush, gas-lit until recently;[16][17] the Spaniard's Inn, Spaniard's Road, where highwayman Dick Turpin took refuge; The Old Bull and Bush in North End; and The Old White Bear (formerly Ye Olde White Bear).[18] Jack Straw's Castle on the edge of the Heath near Whitestone Pond at the brow of the Heath has now been converted into residential flats. Others include:

  • The Flask – 14 Flask Walk, Hampstead, London, NW3 1HE [19]
  • Freemasons Arms – 32 Downshire Hill, Hampstead, London, NW3 1NT[20]
  • The Duke of Hamilton – 23–25 New End, Hampstead, London, NW3 1JD[21]
  • The Horseshoe (formerly The Three Horseshoes) – 28 Heath Street, Hampstead, London, NW3 6TE[22]
  • King William IV (aka KW4) – 77 Hampstead High Street, Hampstead, London, NW3 1RE[23]
  • The Magdala – 2a South Hill Park, Hampstead, London, NW3 2SB[24][25]
  • The Garden Gate – 14 South End Road, Hampstead, London, NW3 2QE[26]


Hampstead has an eclectic mix of restaurants ranging from French to Thai. Notable and longstanding are La Gaffe, Gaucho Grill, Jin Kichi, Tip Top Thai, Al Casbah, Le Cellier du Midi and CrimeaJewel. After over a decade of controversy and legal action from local residents, McDonald's was finally allowed to open in Hampstead in 1992, after winning its right in court, and agreeing to a previously unprecedented re-design of the shop front, reducing the conspicuousness of its facade and logo.[27]


  • Christ Church – Hampstead Square, NW3 1AB[28]
  • St. Andrew's United Reformed Church, Frognal Lane, NW3 7DY[29]
  • St John-at-Hampstead – Church Row, NW3 6UU[30]
  • St John's Downshire Hill – Downshire Hill, NW3 1NU[31]
  • St Luke's – Kidderpore Avenue, NW3 7SU[32][33]
  • St Mary's Chapel – 4 Holly Place, NW3 6QU[34][35]
  • Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel


Film locations

East Heath

Hampstead's rural feel lends itself for use on film; a notable example being The Killing of Sister George (1968) starring Beryl Reid and Susannah York. The opening sequence has Reid's character June wandering through the streets and alleyways of Hampstead, west of Heath Street, around The Mount Square. The Marquis of Granby pub, in which June drinks at the opening of the film, was actually The Holly Bush,[16] at 22 Holly Mount. Another example is The Collector (1965), starring Terence Stamp and Samantha Eggar, where the kidnap sequence is set in Mount Vernon.

The 1986 fantasy film Labyrinth, starring Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie, was shot, in large part, in Hampstead Heath.

Some scenes from An American Werewolf in London (1981) are shot on Hampstead Heath, Well Walk and Haverstock Hill. Harry and Judith are killed in Hampstead Heath, behind the Priors on East Heath Road. Before David kills them, Harry and Judith get out of the taxi on East Heath Road at Well Walk.

More recently Kenwood House is the set of the "film-within-the-film" scene of Notting Hill (1999). Outdoor scenes in The Wedding Date (2005), starring Debra Messing, feature Parliament Hill Fields on the Heath, overlooking west London. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) features the old Hampstead Town Hall on Haverstock Hill. The cult film Scenes of a Sexual Nature (2006) was filmed entirely on Hampstead Heath, covering various picturesque locations such as the 'Floating Gardens' and Kenwood House.

A musical specifically focusing on the area, Les Bicyclettes de Belsize (1968), tells the story of a young man's cycle journey around Hampstead. After crashing into a billboard poster, he falls in love with the fashion model depicted on it.


Hampstead underground station

Hampstead has a major bus terminus known as Hampstead Heath located in South End Green. Its most frequent service is Route 24 which for over 100 years has linked this area with the West End, Victoria and Grosvenor Road in Pimlico. Bus routes that currently serve Hampstead are: 24 46 168 210 268 603 C11 and N5.

Nearest tube stations

The nearest London Underground stations are Hampstead and Belsize Park — on the Northern Line and Swiss Cottage on the Jubilee Line. The stations are within Travelcard Zone 2. Hampstead is the boundary with Travelcard Zone 3. Construction of North End tube station was started but not completed.

Nearest railway station

The nearest London Overground station is Hampstead Heath however for the west parts of Hampstead such as Frognal, Finchley Road & Frognal may be more convenient.

Nearest hospital

Nearest places

Notable residents

Hampstead has long been known as a residence of the intelligentsia, including writers, composers, ballerinas and intellectuals, actors, artists and architects — many of whom created a bohemian community in the late 19th century. After 1917, and again in the 1930s, it became base to a community of avant garde artists and writers and was host to a number of émigrés and exiles from the Russian Revolution and Nazi Europe.

Cultural references

  • Hampstead is referred to in the song "Young Conservatives" by The Kinks and in "Cross Eyed Mary" by Jethro Tull.

Local newspapers

The local newspapers, as of 2011, are the Camden New Journal and the Hampstead and Highgate Express.

See also

References and notes

  1. ^ Most expensive new home is sold for £35m, By Gary Cleland, Published: 3:25PM GMT 8 January 2008, Daily Telegraph
  2. ^ Luxury mansion is sold for £50m Wednesday, 23 January 2008, 18:57 GMT, BBC
  3. ^ Wade, David, "Whatever happened to Hampstead Man?" Telegraph.co.uk, 8 May 2004 (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  4. ^ "Hampstead and Highgate Express website" HamHigh.co.uk (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  5. ^ The Stretchford Chronicles, Michael Wharton, (London, 1980), pages 216, 236, 284
  6. ^ Champagne socialist toasts family windfall, Sunday Times, 8 February, 1998
  7. ^ "Fenton House" NationalTrust.org.uk (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  8. ^ "Freud Museum" HeritageBritain.com (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  9. ^ "Burgh House & Hampstead Local History Museum" AboutBritain.com (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  10. ^ "Keats House Museum" AboutBritain.com (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  11. ^ "Kenwood House" English-Heritage.org.uk (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  12. ^ "Everyman Cinema Club" LondonNet.co.uk (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  13. ^ "Hampstead Theatre" VisitLondon.com (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  14. ^ "New End Theatre" VisitLondon.com (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  15. ^ "Pentameters Theatre" LondonNet.co.uk (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  16. ^ a b "The Killing of Sister George film locations" Movie-Locations.com (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  17. ^ "The Holly Bush" FancyaPint.com (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  18. ^ "Ye Olde White Bear" FancyaPint.com (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  19. ^ "The Flask" "FancyaPint.com" (Retrieved 13 April 2010)
  20. ^ "Freemasons Arms" FancyaPint.com (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  21. ^ "The Duke of Hamilton" FancyaPint.com (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  22. ^ "The Horseshoe" FancyaPint.com (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  23. ^ "King William IV" FancyaPint.com (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  24. ^ "The Magdala" FancyaPint.com (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  25. ^ Ruth Ellis killed her lover David Blakely in The Magdala in 1955. (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  26. ^ "The Garden Gate" FancyaPint.com (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  27. ^ LETTER FROM LONDON; Hampstead Braces for a Big Mac Attack, The Washington Post | November 4, 1992 | Eugene Robinson
  28. ^ "Christ Church" aChurchNearYou.com (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  29. ^ St. Andrew's United Reformed Church
  30. ^ "St John-at-Hampstead" aChurchNearYou.com (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  31. ^ "St John's Downshire Hill" SJDH.org (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  32. ^ "St Luke's, Hampstead" stlukeshampstead.org (Retrieved 15 August 2010)
  33. ^ St Luke's was built with financial help from Anne Dudin Brown.
  34. ^ "St Mary's Chapel" RCDOW.org.uk (Retrieved 18 June 2009)
  35. ^ St Mary's Chapel was founded by Roman Catholic refugees from the French Revolution.

External links

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