Fun fairs


[hamp-stid, -sted]
Hampstead is an area of London, England, located north-west of Charing Cross. It is part of the London Borough of Camden. It is situated within Inner London. It is known for its intellectual, artistic, musical and literary associations and for the large and hilly parkland Hampstead Heath. It is also home to some of the most expensive housing in the London area, or indeed anywhere in the world, with large houses regularly listed for sale at over twenty million pounds sterling (about US$40 million in 2008). The village of Hampstead has more millionaires within its boundaries than any other area of Britain.


The name comes from the Anglo-Saxon words hæmpe and stede, meaning "settlement near pigs".


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.

During the 20th Century, a number of notable buildings were created. These include:

Of these, the Hampstead Theatre relocated in 2003 to the present Swiss Cottage site (increasing capacity from 140 to 325 seats) and the Swiss Cottage leisure centre was closed for rebuilding in 2003 and reopened in 2006.

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

Though now considered an integral part of London, Hampstead has retained much of its village atmosphere and charm, with Hampstead High Street playing a vital role in the day to day life of a Hampsteadian.

On 14 August 1975 Hampstead entered the UK Weather Records with the Highest 155-min total rainfall at 169 mm. As of July 2006 this record remains.

Mark Pevsner, the grandson of Sir Nicholas Pevsner, famously 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.


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 Registry Office, can be seen in newsreel footage of many celebrity civil marriages. In 1965 the metropolitan borough was abolished and is former 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 Highgate constituency and since 1992 the member of parliament has been the former actress Glenda Jackson of the Labour Party.

The area has a significant tradition of educated liberal humanism, sometimes referred to (occasionally disparagingly) as "Hampstead Liberalism".

The area is also home to the left-wing Labour magazine, Tribune and the satirical magazine the Hampstead Village Voice.

Notable current and former residents

Hampstead has long been known as a residence of the intelligentsia, including writers, composers, and intellectuals, actors, artists and architects — many of whom created a bohemian community in the late 19th century. 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 Nazi Europe.

Famous past inhabitants have included:

Hampstead is currently and has been recently home to:


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 part of the River Fleet. The bridge pictured is known locally as 'The Red Arches'.

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 single place of employment in Hampstead is the Royal Free Hospital in 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 examples of architecture, one being the Isokon building in Lawn Road, a Grade I listed experiment in collective housing, once home to the likes of Agatha Christie, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson and Walter Gropius. It was recently restored by Notting Hill Housing Trust.


Places of Interest



Hampstead is well known for its traditional pubs, such as the Holly Bush (which was gas lit until recently), the Spaniard's Inn (where highwayman Dick Turpin took refuge), The Old Bull and Bush and Ye Olde White Bear. Jack Straw's Castle on the edge of the Heath has now been converted into residential flats. Others include:


Hampstead has an eclectic mix of restaurants ranging from French to Thai. Notable and longstanding are The Gaucho Grill, Jin kichi, Tip Top Thai, Al Casbah and Le Cellier du Midi.CrimeaJewel.



Nearest places

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External links

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