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On nearby North End Road is the classical frontage of Inverforth House now converted to luxury flats. Behind the house is to be found the Hill Garden, a formal Italian garden which once belonged to the house, open to the public and well worth a visit. This garden contains a grand elevated pergola – a covered walkway with overhanging trellises and an ancient wisteria.

Golders Hill Park

Golders Hill Park

Beside the Hill Garden is Golders Hill Park, once part of the Heath, but now home to a small zoo, a bandstand (where bands play every Sunday afternoon and on Bank Holidays during the summer months), and a pond of many ducks much loved by local children. Between April and October an Italian café serves good value simple pasta dishes and fresh salmon.

Bull and Bush

Bull and Bush

If you are feeling thirsty, the Bull and Bush is opposite Golders Hill Park. This attractive pub is Grade II listed, with its origins dating back to the time of Charles I. During the Edwardian era, the Bull and Bush became a popular venue for Londoners on a day out. During this time Florrie Ford made the pub world famous with her music hall song “Down by the Old Bull and Bush” which reflected the atmosphere of the pub

Hampstead

Hampstead

From here the village of Hampstead is about 15 minutes walk or a short bus ride away (Take the 268 on the corner of Hampstead Way). Hampstead's popularity began in the eighteenth century when fashionable people came to “take the waters” at local springs. A century later John Keats, the English poet came to visit his friend Leigh Hunt in the Vale of Health and called it “the fair and open face of heaven” and promptly moved in.

You can visit the house where Keats lived with his friend Charles Brown from 1818 to 1820 ( www.keatshouse.org.uk ). It was here that he wrote some of his best known poems including “Ode to a Nightingale” under the plum tree in his garden. Here he met and fell in love with Fanny Brawne the daughter of his neighbour, but weakened by tuberculosis, he left England in 1920 to spend the winter in Italy. He wrote to Fanny on October 24 ending the letter with “Goodbye Fanny, God bless you….”. He never returned and died in Rome at the age of 25.

In the centre of Hampstead is Fenton House, a William and Mary merchant's house of great charm now owned by the National Trust. The rooms contain an exquisite collection of furniture and porcelain and a collection of early keyboard instruments. The gardens are lovely too. Concerts are held here in the summer. For further information consult www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Within easy walking distance from Iolanthe and from Hampstead is Kenwood House, a Robert Adam masterpiece with glamorous rooms only recently restored to their former glory, a magnificent estate and a remarkable collection of paintings including works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, Gainsborough and Reynolds. There is an annual programme of lakeside concerts with fireworks. You can enjoy a rest in the Brew House Café which serves good food at a reasonable price. For information relating to Kenwood House see www.english-heritage.org.uk

In the heart of old Hampstead is Burgh House, Queen Anne house built in 1703 with its handsome panelled rooms, staircase and wrought iron gates, now a Community Arts centre with exhibitions, concerts and lectures. It also contains the Hampstead Museum of local history and the Constable Collection. John Constable lived in Hampstead with and some of his best his wife and children known paintings are of

Hampstead. See www.heathandhampsteadsociety.org.uk/burghouse.htm

If you want to see something modern, 2 Willow Road was designed and built by the architect Ernö Goldfinger in 1939. Contains the Goldfinger collection of works of art and furniture designed by the architect. For visiting times see the National Trust site referred to above.

Hampstead has always been a magnet to artists, musicians and famous people. Sigmund Freud lived and practised in Maresfield Gardens, only for a short time, but he brought with him the essence of period Vienna, the furniture the paintings, even his couch where he saw his patients. His house is open to the public. See www.freud.org.uk

Hampstead High Street is lined with interesting shops, cafes and restaurants. 

 
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