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Hampstead, Middlesex

Historical Description

Hampstead, a metropolitan suburb, a parish, and a parliamentary borough in Middlesex, on the south side of a range of hills 400 feet high on the line of Watling Street over a tunnel of the North London railway, and near a tunnel of the L. & N.W. railway, 5 miles NW of St Paul's, is within the jurisdiction of the metropolitan police and the central criminal court, has two stations on the North London railway, and is in the NW suburban postal district. It is thought from the discovery at it of many Roman antiquities to have probably been a Roman station; it had only five cottages in 986; it was noted in the time of Henry VIII. as a great place for washer-women, to whom the linen of the citizens of London were sent; it became in the 17th century the occasional resort of distinguished individuals and families; it was also in that century and till 1701 the place of election for the county; it acquired, about the commencement of the 18th century, high celebrity as a watering-place on account of medicinal springs which are now disused; it has continued till the present time, together with places around it within the parish, to be a favourite place of suburban residence. Drainage works and other sanitary operations have rendered it second to no place in England for cleanliness and salubrity; it has been placed in close connection with the metropolis by a continuous intermediate chain of buildings, and it at the same time enjoys environs with shady walks of such a kind and in such plenty as to make it semi-ruraL The parish church of St John, which with its square tower forms a conspicuous object in the view from many parts of London, was rebuilt in 1745, and was enlarged in 1844. It contains several monuments, including one, erected in 1894 by American admirers, of the poet Reats, who once resided at Hampstead. In the churchyard are buried Sir James Mackintosh, Joanna Baillie and her sister Agnes, and the painter Constable. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of London; net value, £1022 with residence. In addition to the mother parish of St John, the parish contains also the following ecclesiastical parishes:-All Souls, St John's Wood (population, 3801); Ohrist Church (4226), gross value, £900; St Augustine, Rilbum (5431), gross value, £500; St Cuthbert, West Hampstead (4479), gross value, £322; St Mary the Virgin, Primrose Hill (2327), gross value, £680; St Peter, Belsize Park (4095), gross value, £1300; St Saviour, Haverstock Hill (5970), gross value, £600; St Stephen (6403), value, £450; Emmanuel, West-End (7431), net value, £187; Holy Trinity (4016), net value, £1000; St James, West Hampstead (6323), net value, £600; St Mary, Rilbnm (7371), net value, £687; St Paul, Avenue Road (3527), net value, £750. The whole are vicarages excepting St Augustine, which is a private curacy. There are handsome places of worship for Congregationalists, Baptists, Wesleyans, Unitarians, and Roman Catholics. The borough contains a commodious vestry hall, and there is also a drill hall, which is used for public meetings, &c.

The parish and parliamentary borough (which latter returns one member) are co-cxtensive. Acreage, 2248; population, 68, 416. The manor was given by Ethelred to Westminster Abbey, had a seat of the priors of Westminster in Belsize at Domesday, and was then known as Hamestede, was given after the Reformation to the Wroths, passed from them to the Campdens, and belongs now to the Wilson family. Frognal forms the western part. of Hampstead, holders Hill is 2 miles to the NW, Haverstock Hill and Chalcote lie to the S, Primrose Hill is on the S border, and Rilbum is on the W border, and partly within Willesden. Some vantage grounds in Hampstead and its neighbourhood command a very remarkable view of London, and an extensive, various, and fine view to Hanslop Steeple in Northamptonshire, to Langdon Hill 60 miles distant in Essex, to Banstead Downs in Surrey, to Shooters Hill in Kent, to Red Hill in Bucks, and to Windsor Castle in Berks.

Hampstead Heath, comprising over 500 acres, and including Upper Heath, Lower Heath, West Heath, East Heath, and the Vale of Heath, was formerly noted for rare plants, began many years ago to be partly occupied with handsome villas, and was the subject of a sharp contest in 1862 between the lord of the manor, who was anxious to appropriate the land, and the inhabitants, who wished it to be preserved as an open space. In the end the Heath was secured as a place of recreation for the public. Some important additions were made to it in 1890, when it was placed under the management of the London County Council. It is unquestionably one of the best of the "lungs" of London, and on summer Saturdays and Sundays and on bank holidays it presents a gay and characteristic scene of popular enjoyment. The sources of the river Fleet are in Hampstead Ponds on the E of the hills, and the sources of the river Brent are on the N of the hills. Waterworks for Kentish Town and for part of Hampstead drew their supplies from Hampstead Ponds, but these works have been superseded by those of the New River Company, which have a reservoir on the Heath and another at High-gate. An ancient tumulus is on Parliament Hill. Sir H. Vane and Bishop Butler inhabited a house in Hampstead built in 1571. Lord Chancellor Macclesfield, and latterly Sir T. Neave, Bart., inhabited Branch Hill Lodge. Lord Mansfield lived in Chicken House. Lord Loughborough inhabited Rosslyn House. Lord North resided at North End. Lord Erskine resided at Evergreen Hill. " The Rit-cat Club," including Steele, Addison, and other distinguished literati, met at the " Upper Flask," noticed by Richardson in his " Clarissa." Stephens, the commentator on Shakespeare, also died in that house. Johnson wrote his " Vanity of Human Wishes" in Hampstead, and Pope, Gay, Akenside, Arbuthnot, Booth, Ciber, Dr Swell, Joanna Baillie, Coleridge, and other eminent persons either lived in Hampstead or frequented it.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyMiddlesex 
Ecclesiastical parishHampstead St. John 
Poor Law unionEdmonton 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Hampstead from the following:

Land and Property

A full transcript of the Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Middlesex is online.

Villages, Hamlets, &c

Golders Hill
North End (Hampstead)
Pond Street
Westend (Hampstead)
CountyGreater London
Postal districtNW3
Post TownLondon