Our second visit to Hampstead is a lot brighter.  The sun is shining and we are keen to fully explore this village and unlock its history. We head back to Hamstead and walk to The Flask hotel for lunch.

The Flask, located on Flask Walk, is the perfect starting point for our walk. This historic pub, dating back to the 17th century, is steeped in history and local lore. Known for its charming interiors and cozy atmosphere, The Flask is a favourite among locals and visitors alike. Legend has it that the pub is haunted, adding a touch of mystery to its old-world charm. We enjoy lunch. Mardi has the Smoked haddock and prawn pot pie, Pitchfork cheddar mash topping, braised cabbage, while I opt for the Dairy cattle beef burger, Cornish cheddar, watercress mayo, lettuce, tomato, red onion & Young’s ale chutney, gherkin and fries. Both are delicious, Mardi has a beer and I toy with the idea of a whiskey, but it is a little early in the day.

The Flask’s name is believed to derive from the flasks used to collect water from the nearby Hampstead wells, which were once famous for their supposedly healing properties. The pub’s charming interiors, complete with low-beamed ceilings and cozy nooks, offer a glimpse into the past. The Flask is also renowned for its ghostly tales, with some patrons claiming to have encountered spirits within its historic walls.

The history of Hampstead is not without its darker chapters, one of which is the impact of the bubonic plague. During the Great Plague of London in 1665-1666, Hampstead, like many parts of London, was affected by the devastating outbreak.

Interestingly, Hampstead’s wells played a role during the plague years. The water from these wells was thought to have curative properties, attracting people seeking remedies for various ailments, including the plague. However, this influx also increased the risk of spreading the disease.

Despite the plague’s presence, Hampstead was considered a relatively safer area compared to the densely populated parts of central London. Its open spaces and cleaner air were believed to offer some protection against the spread of the disease. Many wealthy Londoners fled to Hampstead to escape the worst of the outbreak, hoping that the village’s rural setting would shield them from the epidemic.

As we think about Hampstead’s history and that of the Flask, we chat to the staff and bid them farewell as we embark on our walking tour. We walk down Flask Lane into Flask Walk and then Well Walk. We circular back to Cannon Lane and discover the last prison lock up.

Tucked away on Cannon Walk, the Parish Lock-Up is one of Hampstead’s intriguing historical relics. Dating back to the 18th century, this small, round building was used to detain petty criminals and drunkards overnight before they were brought before the local magistrate. Constructed from sturdy brick and stone, the lock-up’s design reflects the period’s utilitarian approach to law enforcement. Despite its grim purpose, the structure adds a quaint charm to the picturesque streets of Hampstead. Today, the Parish Lock-Up stands as a testament to the village’s rich history, offering a fascinating glimpse into the bygone era of local justice.

We then walk along Canon Place into Elm Row and then onto Heath Street.

We walk towards Hampstead Heath in search of the Hampstead Milestone. The Hampstead Milestone, located on the corner of Heath Street and Upper Terrace, is a fascinating historical artifact that offers a glimpse into the village’s past. This stone marker dates back to the 18th century and was used to indicate distances to and from Hampstead. Engraved with mileage information, it provided essential navigation details for travellers heading to central London and other destinations. The milestone is a remnant of a time when travel by foot, horseback, or carriage was common, and such markers were crucial for guiding wayfarers through the countryside. Today, the Hampstead Milestone stands as a charming reminder of the village’s history, quietly witnessing the evolution of transportation and the growth of Hampstead from a rural retreat to a bustling London neighbourhood, although hit is covered with greenery and almost impossible to see!

We have a rest on a seat in the park and decide to head back into town, it’s quite hot and Hampstead Heath is quite open, so we don’t walk up that way. We walk down Upper Terrace into Admirals Walk and pass the Admiral’s house, a pristine white washed mansion. 

The house is perched prominently on Admiral’s Walk, the Admiral’s House is one of Hampstead’s most iconic landmarks. This striking white residence, with its distinctive turrets and battlements, dates back to the early 18th century and is steeped in maritime lore. The house is believed to have been built for or inspired by a naval officer, hence its nautical architectural features and name. It famously served as a home for various notable residents, including Sir Richard Steele, the essayist and playwright. The Admiral’s House is also immortalised in art, most notably in a painting by John Constable, capturing its unique charm. We stand and look at the building and acknowledge how it stands as a symbol of Hampstead’s rich architectural diversity and historical significance.

We continue our walk down Holly Bush Hill where we pass the Holly Bush, another pub in the area and we decide to stop in for a drink. It is quite warm and we’ve walked for a while. We admire the historic interior of the pub, including the toilets, enjoy a drink and rest and continue our journey.

We walk down Holly Walk and past the Hampstead cemetery and wander the old headstones and graves. Then along Church Row back to the main street, Heath Street. We walk past a house owned by Boy George and the convenience store hit by a car accident where the driver was George Michael. In 2004, George Michael, the iconic singer from the pop duo Wham!, was involved in a car accident in Hampstead. He crashed his car into three parked vehicles near his home in the early hours of the morning. A quick thinking passer-by added graffito to the shop shortly afterwards simply saying “Wham!”

We conclude our walk by walking down Willoughby Road and Willow Road, where we get a milkshake. We admire the beautiful buildings and parklands lining the streets. We take a short detour to Keats Grove.

A headstone at Hampstead cemetery

A headstone at Hampstead cemetery

A headstone at Hampstead cemeteryP1002387

A headstone at Hampstead cemeteryP1002387

a brewery, in Hampstead, established in 1720

a brewery, in Hampstead, established in 1720

Ghost signage on a building, established in 1746.

Ghost signage on a building, established in 1746.

The Flask Hotel

The Flask Hotel

A mansion in Hampstead

A mansion in Hampstead

The Holly Bush

The Holly Bush

Grand staircase between level sin Hampstead

Grand staircase between level sin Hampstead

Keats House

Keats House

Just a stone’s throw from the Heath, on Keats Grove, is Keats House, the former home of the Romantic poet John Keats. This Regency villa, where Keats wrote some of his most famous poems, is now a museum dedicated to his life and work. We admire it from the outside as we continue our walk. 

We look for our train station to head home. We’ve walked over 7kms around Hampstead and had a thoroughly enjoyable, yet tiring, day. We locate Hampstead Heath station and commence the 40-minute journey back to Marylebone.

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