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Heritage

A view through trees and across rain-slick Bird Bridge in Hampstead Heath.

There are at least 55 historical features, monuments and archaeological sites on Hampstead Heath, which form a vital part of its character.

This map of Hampstead Heath's historic features (470KB) is taken form the Heath's management plan 'Towards a Plan for the Heath 2007 - 2017'.

Historical features

Hampstead Heath's beauty is rivalled by the depth of its history, and the pages linked below - largely based on local columns by Management Committee Chairman Bob Hall - outline that history and the structures and spans of space that collectively make Hampstead Heath such a distinct, nationally-renowned landscape; and one of the principal green spaces of London.

The Pergola

Overlooking the West Heath, the Pergola is as long as Canary Wharf tower is tall. This Edwardian extravagance, having fallen into disrepair, was restored by the City of London and is once more a Heath highlight.

The Tumulus

The Tumulus is shrouded in mystery; is it an ancient burial ground, the foundations of an old windmill or a folly in the landscape? The Saxon ditch and adjacent earth bank, which marked early ownership and administrative boundaries, are known to have been present since at least 986AD.

Inverforth House

Perched over West Heath, Inverforth House has at various points been home to Britain's bankers, Lords and industrial elite, a hospital for those injured in industrial accident, a women's hospital and, most recently, a lavish gated community.

Wyldes Farmhouse

In a quiet nook near the Heath Extension, Wyldes Farmhouse was a chosen destination for many of Britain's artistic, cultural and political names of the 18th Century, from Blake and Constable to Charles Dickens to George Bernard Shaw and other members of the Fabian Society. And Wyldes was just one focal point for a relationship between Hampstead Heath and the Arts.

Hampstead Heath

Throughout the Heath, the land tells its own story as well.

Many of the Heath's springs and ponds were created in the 1500s on the back of the London Conduit Act. Later, in the 1700s, the healthy qualities of the springs' iron-rich water led to many people 'taking the water'. Sir John Soame went so far as to write a guide to Hampstead's waters. This culture grew across classes until, by 1910, 300,000 working class people were reckoned to enjoy the waters each bank holiday Monday. 

Elsewhere, parts of the Heath clearly show signs of past industry. Sandy Heath, for example, is pocked with the hollows left by centuries of uncontrolled sand-digging. These innocuous dips and pits are the subtle remnants of a labour that once threatened to totally devastate the Heath.

In the 1900s, the threat of enclosure and development was also a very real one for Hampstead Heath at large as, across half the century, Sir Thomas Maryon Wilson lobbied Parliament with bills that would favour his right to build throughout the Heath, and the fight to save the Heath was on.

Published:
13 March 2012
Last Modified:
14 June 2016

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