Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Parks, Commons and Heaths - Hampstead Heath

Sir Charles Burrell, who can retire to his estate in Sussex for recreation, may think it unnecessary that the Heath should be preserved as 'a place of recreation for the tradesmen of the metropolis, their wives, children and friends' but if he were confined to a sedentary trade for six days out of the seven, in sooty London, he would probably argue differently. The comforts of the lower classes are too much neglected  by the Aristocracy of the country, and we do hope that this attempt to deprive 'tradesmen' of the pleasures of fresh air, will be defeated. 

The Morning Herald, 1829

see also James Greenwood in Low-Life Deeps

see also James Greenwood in Odd People in Odd Places

HAMPSTEAD HEATH. An elevated locality in the north-western suburbs of London, about four miles from Charing Cross. From the Heath, which is about 440 feet above the Thames, views of great extent are obtained. Windsor Castle, the Thames near Gravesend, the hills of the North Downs range, and Leith Hill, the greatest elevation south of the Thames, are perceptible in the distance in clear weather. Trains from Broad Street and North London Line stations; or omnibuses from Tottenham Court Road.

Reynolds' Shilling Coloured Map of London, 1895

HAMPSTEAD HEATH. - A stretch of real country within easy walk of the heart of London, the only spot within reach as yet unspoiled by improvement.
    Hampstead lies high above the cross of St. Paul's, and though a good deal trenched upon of late years by the builders, still presents a wide expanse of comparatively unsophisticated common, one of the best and healthiest of London's lungs. Its preservation to the public in the future has been assured by its purchase on their behalf, and it is under the care of the London County Council.
    On summer Saturdays and Sundays, and certainly on the public (Bank) Holidays, its delights are shared by rather more people than a holiday-maker of a retiring turn might care to encounter, nor do the steeds and donkeys so plentifully provided for the delectation of "Arry" and his young lady add much to the aesthetics of the scene. But even under these trying conditions it is still the most hopeful "draw" in the immediate neighbourhood of London for a breath of comparatively fresh air, and on less popular occasions, especially in the early rooming, it is a most enjoyable spot.
    The view to the west and north from the flagstaff includes Harrow spire and the country and hills towards Totteridge and Barnet. Within a short distance of the top of the Heath is Golder's Hill, a beautiful estate, acquired and added to the Heath in 1898. The mansion is now used as a large and comfortable refreshment place, whilst the gardens are kept in charming order.
    The three best places on Hampstead Heath itself for the refreshment of the timer holidaymaker are the Spaniards, the Bull and Bush and Jack Straws Castle. The opening of the Underground Electric Railways in London has included a very convenient line from Charing Cross, via Tottenham-ct.-rd and Camden Town, to Hampstead (for Heath) and Golder's Hill, which enables visitors within half an hour to get out to this beauty spot of London. Can also be reached from Broad-st, City, by N. L. line, and by Omnibus and Electric Car.

Charles Dickens Jr. et al, Dickens Dictionary of London, c.1908 edition
(no date; based on internal evidence)

Victorian London - Publications - History - The Queen's London : a Pictorial and Descriptive Record of the Streets, Buildings, Parks and Scenery of the Great Metropolis, 1896 - Hampstead Heath, from the flagstaff, looking West

Hampstead Heath - photograph


Hampstead Heath is a possession of which Londoners may well be proud. The flagstaff against the pond stands 430 feet above the sea level, and the air thereabout is delightfully bracing. So picturesque and unspoilt is the Heath that it is hard to realise the proximity of the metropolis. It extends over some 250 acres. The best outlook is undoubtedly the west-across the country to Hendon and the Welsh Harp, to Harrow-on-the-Hill with its conspicuous church spire, and to Windsor, whose Castle on a clear day is distinctly visible. On a Bank Holiday the Heath is thronged by hundreds of thousands of holiday makers from London, whose "fun" waxes fast and furious.

Victorian London - Publications - History - The Queen's London : a Pictorial and Descriptive Record of the Streets, Buildings, Parks and Scenery of the Great Metropolis, 1896 - Hampstead Heath: The Flagstaff, with approach to "Jack Straw's Castle"

Hampstead Heath: The Flagstaff, with approach to Jack Straw's Castle - photograph


That part of ever-attractive Hampstead Heath, marked by the Flagstaff, is one of its highest and breeziest points. Our view embraces part of the pond dear to dogs and horses and to children, and in winter to skaters of all ages. The road in the foreground comes up from High Street, Hampstead; and at the point where it diverges into the Spaniard's Road in one direction, and Heath End Hill in another, is "Jack Straw's Castle" (just visible at the extreme right of the picture), an old-fashioned inn which has been visited by many a famous literary man and artist of a past age. On the right will be seen one of the bird-catchers who carry on their operations in this neighbourhood. From the Flagstaff, as we show in another view (page 49), there is an exceptionally extensive prospect westwards.