From Monday to Friday you will find the Green Dog Walking team in our green uniforms walking, running and playing with our dogs on Hampstead Heath. One of the most beautiful parks in North London, we want to share with you some of its secrets, so here is a brief history of Hampstead Heath*!
Hampstead Heath is a large, ancient London park, covering 320 hectares. This grassy public space sits astride a sandy ridge, one of the highest points in London, running from Hampstead to Highgate, which rests on a band of London Clay. The Heath is rambling and hilly, embracing ponds, recent and ancient woodlands, a lido, playgrounds, and a training track, and it adjoins the stately home of Kenwood House and its grounds. The south-east part of the Heath is Parliament Hill, from which the view over London is protected by law.
Running along its eastern perimeter are a chain of ponds – including three open-air public swimming pools – which were originally reservoirs for drinking water from the River Fleet. The Heath is a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation,and part of Kenwood is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Lakeside concerts are held there in summer. The Heath is managed by the City of London Corporation, and lies mostly within the London Borough of Camden with the adjoining Hampstead Heath Extension and Golders Hill Park in the London Borough of Barnet.
The Heath first entered the history books in 986 when Ethelred the Unready granted one of his servants five hides of land at “Hemstede”. This same land is later recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as held by the monastery of St. Peter’s at Westminster Abbey, and by then is known as the “Manor of Hampstead”. Westminster held the land until 1133 when control of part of the manor was released to one Richard de Balta; then during Henry II’s reign the whole of the manor became privately owned by Alexander de Barentyn, the King’s butler. Manorial rights to the land remained in private hands until the 1940s when they lapsed under Sir Spencer Pocklington Maryon Wilson, though the estate itself was passed on to Shane Gough, 5th Viscount Gough.
Over time, plots of land in the manor were sold off for building, particularly in the early 19th century, though the Heath remained mainly common land. The main part of the Heath was acquired for the people by the Metropolitan Board of Works. Parliament Hill was purchased for the public for £300,000 and added to the park in 1888. Golders Hill was added in 1898 and Kenwood House and grounds were added in 1928.
From 1808 to 1814 Hampstead Heath hosted a station in the shutter telegraph chain which connected the Admiralty in London to its naval ships in the port of Great Yarmouth.
The City of London Corporation has managed the Heath since 1989. Before that it was managed by the GLC and before that by the London County Council (LCC).
The City of London proposed to build a new road on the Heath to service their ‘Masterplan’ developments. The proposal met with protests from local residents and celebrities, and did not proceed.
*the information in this article was sourced online, including Wikipedia. Click here to read the original article from Wikipedia