Hidden treasures in North London – discovering Hampstead Pergola

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.

Hampstead Pergola

The house, visible to a degree through the Pergola’s framing, is still privately owned and now split into a number of apartments.

Hampstead Pergola

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Return to Kenwood House

OK, so we’ve been to Kenwood House before. But with such a beautiful place nearby, it’s difficult not to… While last time was a fleeting visit on the blog, this trip we decided to look at things a little more closely.

Remodelled by Robert Adam in 1770 (you know by now how much we love good old Adam!), Kenwood sits in 74 acres next to Hampstead Heath, with views across to the City of London. The house is run by English Heritage but remains free entry to the public, thanks to the Iveagh Bequest. This was a gift of art from the 1st Earl of Iveagh in 1920, and comprises internationally-significant Old Master and British paintings by artists including Vermeer, Rembrandt, Gainsborough and Reynolds. Indeed, it is the finest collection of Old Master paintings given to the British nation in the 20th century.

Kenwood House

There is also a fine collection of furniture in the house, either designed by Adam or brought in sympathetically. We liked this tiny lion:

Table at Kenwood House

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A sunny stroll in Hampstead

We’re north Londoners, it turns out [for the moment at least]. I’m not quite sure why, but what it does mean is that we have the joy of Hampstead Heath on our doorstep. Every time we go we ask ourselves why we don’t go every week – I guess those National Trust properties won’t visit themselves…

After a short walk from Gospel Oak Overground station, you end up here at the top of Parliament Hill, looking out over London. Spottable are the Shard, St Pancras station, St Paul’s and other highlights of the London skyline.

View from Parliament Hill

Facing the other direction, though, was another popular activity – kite flying. Ostensibly for children, there were a fair few parents not too keen to give up the reins…

Kites over Hampstead Heath

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Walk on the Heath

One evening we went for another walk on Hampstead Heath (we’ve previously talked about it here). The sun was setting as we headed up, so we enjoyed some dramatic silhouettes of our fellow walkers…

Couple under a tree

A pretty church spire in the distance…

Hampstead skyline silouette

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