Did you know… The highwayman Dick Turpin stabled his horse across the road from the Spaniard’s Inn pub.
Did you know… The oldest lavatory in London is on South Green, opposite Hampstead Heath station.Hampstead Heath Kenwood House, Hampstead Heath
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Hampstead Heath is more than just a rural parkland, it also contains some of the finest buildings in London. Kenwood House dates from the 18th-century, and boasts a spectacularly ornate library. Some of the most famous names in art hang upon the walls – Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Vermeer and Van Dyck share space with J W Turner.
The Spaniard’s Inn – just south of West Lodge – is the fabled pub of Dickens, Keats, Shelley and Byron. (Dickens even mentions it in Pickwick Papers.) It also has associations with the highwayman Dick Turpin, who stabled Black Bess across the road.
Another pub nearby is Jack Straw’s Castle, named after one of the leaders in the Peasant’s Revolt. Whilst the building itself is relatively new – built in 1962 – its history dates back 500 years.
Parliament Hill gained its name during the English Civil War when it was occupied by Government troops. You can climb it for a celebrated view of the capital – a handy plaque on the summit tells you the location of distant landmarks.
Legend has it that Queen Boadicea was interred in Boadicea’s Mound – killed in the 1st-century AD whilst leading her people against the Romans.
The town of Hampstead has been popular with writers and artists for several centuries. Some of the famous names to set up shop include Keats, John Constable, Agatha Christie and Elizabeth Taylor. Ian Fleming – the creator of James Bond – also had a house in town.
If you walk past the ponds to the southern edge of the heath, then you will come to Hampstead proper. The two most famous houses are those of John Constable and John Keats.
To reach John Constable’s, walk along the East Heath Road and turn down Well Walk. Opposite the 18th-century Chalybeate Well stands his house at number 40.
Keats’ House is further along the East Heath Road. Turn right into Devonshire Hill and then left again into Keats’ Grove. You can find his house on the right-hand side. He lived here for two years between 1818 and 1820, whilst trying to woo the girl next door. Many of his manuscripts and possessions can still be seen on permanent display.
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