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Downshire Hill, Hampstead, London NW3 - - 1669736.jpg
Downshire Hill in May 2009
Hampstead is located in Greater London
OS grid reference TQ265855
London borough
Ceremonial county Greater London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district NW3
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament
  • Hampstead and Kilburn
London Assembly
  • Barnet and Camden
List of places
51°33′15″N 0°10′28″W / 51.5541°N 0.1744°W / 51.5541; -0.1744

Hampstead is an area in London, which lies 4 miles (6.4 km) northwest of Charing Cross, and extends from the A5 road (Roman Watling Street) to Hampstead Heath, a large, hilly expanse of parkland. The area forms the northwest part of the London Borough of Camden, a borough in Inner London which for the purposes of the London Plan is designated as part of Central London.

Hampstead is known for its intellectual, liberal, artistic, musical, and literary associations. It has some of the most expensive housing in the London area. Hampstead has more millionaires within its boundaries than any other area of the United Kingdom.



The name comes from the Anglo-Saxon words ham and stede, which means, and is a cognate of, the Modern English "homestead".

To 1900

Kenwood House entrance
Kenwood House, Hampstead
Brown work
Roadworks on Heath Street in Hampstead around 1865, in Ford Madox Brown's painting Work
The Mount Hampstead
A current day view of the location used for the Madox Brown painting on The Mount, just off Heath St

Early records of Hampstead can be found in a grant by King Ethelred the Unready to the monastery of St. Peter's at Westminster (AD 986), and it is referred to in the Domesday Book (1086) as being in the hundred of Ossulstone.

The growth of Hampstead is generally traced back to the 17th century. Trustees of the Well started advertising the medicinal qualities of the chalybeate waters (water impregnated with iron) in 1700. Although Hampstead Wells was initially most successful and fashionable, its popularity declined in the 1800s due to competition with other fashionable London spas. The spa was demolished in 1882, although a water fountain was left behind.

Hampstead started to expand following the opening of the North London Railway in the 1860s (now the London Overground with passenger services operated by Transport for London), and expanded further after the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway opened in 1907 (now part of London Underground's Northern line) and provided fast travel to central London.

Much luxurious housing was created during the 1870s and 1880s, in the area that is now the political ward of Frognal & Fitzjohns. Much of this housing remains to this day.

20th century

In the 20th century, a number of notable buildings were created including:

  • Hampstead tube station (1907), the deepest station on the Underground network
  • Isokon building (1932)
  • Hillfield Court (1932)
  • 2 Willow Road (1938)
  • Swiss Cottage Central Library (1964)
  • Royal Free Hospital (mid-1970s)
Keats House
Keats House, Hampstead, where Keats wrote his Ode to a Nightingale

Cultural attractions in the area include the Freud Museum, Keats House, Kenwood House, Fenton House, the Isokon building, Burgh House (which also houses Hampstead Museum), and the Camden Arts Centre. The large Victorian Hampstead Library and Town Hall was recently converted and extended as a creative industries centre.

On 14 August 1975 Hampstead entered the UK Weather Records with the Highest 155-min total rainfall at 169 mm. As of November 2008 this record remains.

Places of interest

Hampstead 073
Hampstead Heath west ponds
Bridge Hampstead Heath 2005
The Viaduct on Hampstead Heath
Isokon Building Hampstead 2005
Isokon Building, Hampstead


To the north and east of Hampstead, and separating it from Highgate, is London's largest ancient parkland, Hampstead Heath, which includes the well-known and legally-protected view of the London skyline from Parliament Hill. The Heath, a major place for Londoners to walk and "take the air", has three open-air public swimming ponds; one for men, one for women, and one for mixed bathing, which were originally reservoirs for drinking water and the sources of the River Fleet. The bridge pictured is known locally as 'The Red Arches' or 'The Viaduct', built in fruitless anticipation of residential building on the Heath in the 19th century.

Local activities include major open-air concerts on summer Saturday evenings on the slopes below Kenwood House, book and poetry readings, fun fairs on the lower reaches of the Heath, period harpsichord recitals at Fenton House, Hampstead Scientific Society and Hampstead Photographic Society.

The largest employer in Hampstead is the Royal Free Hospital, Pond Street, but many small businesses based in the area have international significance. George Martin's AIR recording studios, in converted church premises in Lyndhurst Road, is a current example, as Jim Henson's Creature Shop was before it relocated to California.

The area has some remarkable architecture, such as the Isokon building in Lawn Road, a Grade I listed experiment in collective housing, once home to Agatha Christie, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson and Walter Gropius. It was recently restored by Notting Hill Housing Trust.

Churches and synagogues

  • Christ Church – Hampstead Square, NW3 1AB
  • Heath Street Baptist Church, Heath Street, NW3 1DN
  • St. Andrew's United Reformed Church, Frognal Lane, NW3 7DY
  • St John-at-Hampstead – Church Row, NW3 6UU
  • St John's Downshire Hill – Downshire Hill, NW3 1NU
  • St Luke's – Kidderpore Avenue, NW3 7SU
  • St Mary's Church – 4 Holly Place, NW3 6QU
  • Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel – Pilgrim's Place, NW3 1NG
  • Village Shul, Hampstead's only synagogue, which was founded in 2006 and has occupied the former New End Theatre since 2011


  • Fenton House – Hampstead Grove, Hampstead, London, NW3 6SP
  • Freud Museum – 20 Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead, London, NW3 5SX
  • Burgh House & Hampstead Museum – New End Square, Hampstead, London, NW3 1LT
  • Keats House Museum – Keats Grove, Hampstead, London, NW3 2RR
  • Kenwood House – Hampstead Lane, Hampstead, London, NW3 7JR

Theatres and cinemas

  • Everyman Cinema – 5 Holly Bush Vale, Hampstead, London, NW3 6TX
  • Hampstead Theatre – Eton Avenue, Swiss Cottage, London, NW3 3EU
  • Pentameters Theatre – 28 Heath Street, Hampstead, London, NW3 6TE

Public houses

Hampstead is well known for its traditional pubs, such as The Holly Bush, gas-lit until recently; the Spaniard's Inn, Spaniard's Road, where highwayman Dick Turpin took refuge; The Old Bull and Bush in North End; and The Old White Bear (formerly Ye Olde White Bear). Jack Straw's Castle, on the edge of the Heath near Whitestone Pond, has now been converted into residential flats. Others include:

  • The Flask – 14 Flask Walk, Hampstead, London, NW3 1HE
  • Freemasons Arms – 32 Downshire Hill, Hampstead, London, NW3 1NT
  • The Duke of Hamilton – 23–25 New End, Hampstead, London, NW3 1JD
  • The Horseshoe (formerly The Three Horseshoes) – 28 Heath Street, Hampstead, London, NW3 6TE
  • King William IV (aka KW4) – 77 Hampstead High Street, Hampstead, London, NW3 1RE
  • The Magdala – 2a South Hill Park, Hampstead, London, NW3 2SB
  • The Garden Gate – 14 South End Road, Hampstead, London, NW3 2QE


Hampstead has an eclectic mix of restaurants ranging from French to Thai. Notable and longstanding are La Gaffe, Gaucho Grill, Jin Kichi, Tip Top Thai, Villa Bianca and, in May 2016, Patara. After over a decade of controversy and legal action from local residents, McDonald's was finally allowed to open in Hampstead in 1992, after winning its right in court, and agreeing to a previously unprecedented re-design of the shop front, reducing the conspicuousness of its facade and logo, but closed in November 2013.


Film locations

East Heath

Hampstead's rural feel lends itself for use on film; a notable example being The Killing of Sister George (1968) starring Beryl Reid and Susannah York. The opening sequence has Reid's character June wandering through the streets and alleyways of Hampstead, west of Heath Street, around The Mount Square. The Marquis of Granby pub, in which June drinks at the opening of the film, was actually The Holly Bush, at 22 Holly Mount. Another example is The Collector (1965), starring Terence Stamp and Samantha Eggar, where the kidnap sequence is set in Mount Vernon.

Some scenes from An American Werewolf in London (1981) are shot on Hampstead Heath, Well Walk and Haverstock Hill.

More recently Kenwood House is the set of the "film-within-the-film" scene of Notting Hill (1999). Outdoor scenes in The Wedding Date (2005), starring Debra Messing, feature Parliament Hill Fields on the Heath, overlooking west London. Parliament Hill also features in Notes on a Scandal (2006) together with the nearby areas of Gospel Oak and Camden Town. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) features the old Hampstead Town Hall on Haverstock Hill.

A musical specifically focusing on the area, Les Bicyclettes de Belsize (1968), tells the story of a young man's cycle journey around Hampstead. After crashing into a billboard poster, he falls in love with the fashion model depicted on it.


The 2011 census showed that the population of Hampstead Town ward was 80% white (54% British, 24% Other, 2% Irish). The largest non-white group, Other Asian, claimed 4%. The religious data of the area showed that 35% was Christian, 27% irreligious and 10% Jewish. The whole town had a population of 48,858 in 2011 and includes the wards of Frognal, Hampstead Town, Belsize and Swiss Cottage.


Hampstead underground station

Rail and Tube

Hampstead station is on one transport line, the Northern Line which has connections to other lines at Camden Town and Kings Cross station among others.

The London Overground (North London line) also runs through Hampstead Heath and Finchley Road & Frognal.

Stations in Hampstead include:

  • Belsize Park Northern Line
  • Finchley Road Jubilee Line Metropolitan Line
  • Finchley Road & Frognal North London Line
  • Hampstead Northern Line
  • Hampstead Heath North London Line
  • Swiss Cottage Jubilee Line

All stations are in London fare zone 2, except Hampstead, which is in both zones 2 and 3. Hampstead station serves the north western part of the wider district, near Hampstead's traditional centre. All the other three stations in the area are located to the south.

In the 1860s, the Metropolitan and St John's Wood Railway was authorised to build a branch line from Swiss Cottage to Hampstead with its terminus to be located at the junction of Flask Walk, Well Walk and Willow Road. Financial difficulties meant that the project was cancelled in 1870.


There is a major bus terminus near Hampstead Heath station (near the Royal Free Hospital), served by London Buses routes 24 and 168. Routes 46, 268, C11, and N5 also serve the Royal Free Hospital.

Hampstead tube station and High Street are served by routes 46, 268, 603, and N5. Route 210 runs along the northernmost rim of Hampstead, stopping at Jack Straw's Castle.

Finchley Road is served by routes 13, 113, 187, 268, C11, and N113.


Cycling infrastructure in Hampstead is poor. In early 2016, Transport for London (TfL) consulted with the public on a new "Cycle Superhighway" (CS11) between Swiss Cottage and the West End, which provide an unbroken, predominantly traffic-free cycle route from Hampstead to Central London. The scheme was cancelled following court action from the City of Westminster in 2018.

There are bus lanes along the A41/Finchley Road that cyclists are allowed to use.

A shared-use path runs from Parliament Hill to Jack Straw's Castle/Highgate through the centre of Hampstead Heath.


The A41/Finchley Road passes north–south through Hampstead. The road links the area directly to Marylebone and Oxford Street to the south. The route runs northbound to Golders Green, Brent Cross, the M1 motorway, and Watford.

The A502/Hampstead High Street runs from Camden Town in the south, through Hampstead, to Golders Green and Hendon in the north-west.

Nearest places

The Royal Free Hospital and A&E is in Hampstead.

Notable residents

Freud Museum London 2
Sigmund Freud's final residence, now dedicated to his life and work as the Freud Museum, 20 Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead.

Hampstead has long been known as a residence of the intelligentsia, including writers, composers, ballerinas and intellectuals, actors, artists and architects – many of whom created a bohemian community in the late 19th century. After 1917, and again in the 1930s, it became base to a community of avant garde artists and writers and was host to a number of émigrés and exiles from the Russian Revolution and Nazi Europe.

Blue plaques

There are at least 60 English Heritage blue plaques in Hampstead commemorating the many diverse personalities that have lived there.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Hampstead (Londres) para niños

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