As you know by now, we love nothing more than a saunter around Hampstead Heath. It’s green, it’s walkable, and most importantly [for some] has a large collection of dogs to swoon over. We love Kenwood House and have a few favourite routes we explore. However, lately we made an exciting new discovery, thanks to a tip off from a podcasting friend (check out her brilliantly-engaging podcast, Uncatalogued, if you love museums and want to know more about the fascinating people who bring them to life). This discovery was Hampstead Pergola, described as “essentially, a raised walkway” near the Golders Hill Park part of the Heath. But what a raised walkway it is…
In 1904, Lord Leverhulme bought a large house in this area, named ‘The Hill’. With an interest in landscape gardening, he bought up the surrounding land and aimed to built his Pergola, for parties, summer evenings, and as a vantage point for enjoyment of the stunning gardens surrounding it. The architect he enlisted was the renowned Thomas Mawson, and he cleverly utilised the leftover materials from the nearby building of the Hampstead extension of the Northern line to cut transport costs. The Pergola was completed in 1906, after just a year in construction, and Lord Leverhulme expanded it twice more, in 1911 and 1925.
The house, visible to a degree through the Pergola’s framing, is still privately owned and now split into a number of apartments.
After Lord Leverhulme’s death, the Pergola fell into disrepair and became a shadow of its former self. In recent years, however, the council have undertaken renovation and repairs and, although not manicured, there are some beautiful plants, foliage and floral displays.
At this time of year, there was plenty of wisteria to gaze at…
The atmosphere is casual, with no staff, maps or formal guides, so as you wander through you keep discovering more unfolding in front of you. Gardens with attractive ponds:
And really interesting trees, coming into springtime blossom, like this one, known colloquially as the tissue tree – does anyone know its proper name?
And some beautiful ‘bleeding heart’ (technically known as Dicentra)…
And some wonderfully balletic bees, taking advantage of the lavender plants!
The pergola’s architecture was striking, particularly when we wandered down to the lower garden and looked back up towards it:
At the edge of the garden, decorative balls drew your eye down the rhododendron bushes and the length of the path…
While, back up on the higher ground, the sun cast geometric shadows on the walkways:
Creating, overall, a spectacular hidden sight!
Have you been to Hampstead Pergola? We’re planning to visit in every season, particularly in summer once the roses are out… Perhaps in a few weeks to celebrate someone’s birthday with a picnic!