Tuesday, 10 May 2011

(8 May 2011) Hampstead Heath

The map for the Hampstead Heath walk
Preparing for this walk felt a lot like scraping a barrel. Although a pretty area, Hampstead Heath has no historical significance at all. Contrary to the legend, Queen Boudicca was not buried there, William the Conqueror had as much to do with it as with any other heath in England, and so on. With this in mind I tried to keep pointless trivia to a minimum, but this inevitably made it a boring walk. At least it was an opportunity to walk in the Heath and chat with friends.

Golders Hill Park

After breakfast in Golders Hill, we go for a walk in the park. Golders Hill is a Jews in Golders Hillrelatively new part of London that grew after the tube station was built. Upon entering the park, we come across a large group of orthodox Jewish kids playing football. Unusual sight elsewhere, but Golders Hill is at the centre of Jewish activity in the UK since the 1930s and Hitler's rise in Germany. There are many synagogues, a museum of Jewish history and the residences of prominent British Jews.

Golders Hill Park, a lemur
Golders Hill Park features a tiny zoo with rather outlandish animals. Alpacas, Maras, Red-legged Seriemas, Ring-tailed Lemurs, White-naped Cranes etc.

Hampstead Heath

Spaniards InnWe walk through the forest towards the Spaniards Inn, but it's too early for lunch. So, time for some trivia instead:
Byron, Dickens and Shelly are said to have been regulars of the pub. However, I've heard this about so many pubs that either someone is lying or most 19th century literary figures spent their whole lives in pubs.

In 1780, a group of rioters wanting to burn down nearby Kenwood House stopped for a drink at the Spaniards Inn. When the landlord of the pub realised it, he kept the drink flowing until they got wasted and the law came to collect them.

Kenwood House is next on our way. It's the stately home that dominates the northern part of the Heath since the 17th century. Kenwood HouseIn 1927, it was offered to the nation by its last owner, the Lord Iveagh of the Guinness family (of the beer fame). The name "Kenwood" is believed to indicate that the original land owner was some Norman noble from Caen (some go so far as to claim that it was William the Conqueror).

More trivia:

- The bridge is fake. Seriously!
Kenwood House

- In the film "Notting Hill", that's where Julia Roberts is filming her period drama and Hugh Grant turns up.

Some more photos:

Kenwood House Kenwood House, Library

The house is relatively empty by the standards of a museum, but still quite interesting thanks to Lord Iveagh's art collection. My favourite from there:

Vermeer's 'A Woman Playing the Guitar'In "A Woman Playing the Guitar" Vermeer looks much freer than in his better-known masterpieces. The arm is cut by the edge, the focus is closer to the wall than the girl, and the girl plays a guitar! Were modest girls even allowed to play the guitar in 1670?

self-portrait by RembrandtRembrandt isn't one of my favourite artists, but still seeing one of his self-portraits on the walls of a relatively forgotten estate is quite something. He is already old and looks more distant than ever.

There was also some interest in de Jongh's "Old London Bridge from the west" showing it as it was in the 17th century. There were houses and shops on the bridge, the rents of which were paying its costs. The resulting traffic was unbearable and the richer would prefer to use the gondola-like boats to cross the Thames comfortably.
de Jongh's 'Old London Bridge from the west'

de Jongh's 'Old London Bridge from the west'Past the ponds and towards Kentish Town for lunch. On the Highgate (east) side of Hampstead Heath there are eight ponds dug in the 17th and 18th century; one for men's bathing, one for women's bathing, one for fishing, one for model boats, etc.

The Bull and Last pubLunch at "The Bull and Last", just outside the SE side of the Heath. Enough space for 12 people and decent food.

1 comment:

  1. Shame shame! Where's my map!? My stats on the map!? Who cares about historic facts?
    Oh wait..