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Typical to many areas in and around London, Hampstead draws its roots back to Saxon times. The name, Hampstead, can be drawn back to the Saxon words meaning, “home farm”. As London had yet to extend past its limited boundaries in the 16th century, surrounding areas were quiet farming areas and this holds true to Hampstead as well. It was a quiet, crop-producing village, but very fortunately located on the periphery of London.
In the mid to late 17th century as London was hit by the plague, those with the means to move out of the city fled to the surrounding areas. While many people left London, the majority of people did not want to leave the city altogether, they wanted to get out of the dirtiness and noisiness of the city, but remain close enough to enjoy the many positives of being in London.
Hampstead grew in popularity in the 18th century as it became known as a spa town where the water had healing abilities. Wealthy Londoners continued to flock to the city and large houses began to be erected like the Burgh House which now acts as a museum as well as a place to hold events and concerts. By the 19th century Hampstead had a population of over 3,000 people, which was a significant figure for the time. With the development of the railway in the middle of the century, Hampstead became more convenient to commute into the city and became a much more attractive area for people moving out of the city.
Now Hampstead is known as an intellectual and artistic hub that attracts the wealthy, looking to escape the normal hustle and bustle of inner London. Hampstead boasts that they have more millionaires within their boundaries than anywhere else in the United Kingdom.
To the northeast of Hampstead is Hampstead Heath, London’s largest ancient parkland. Within the park one can swim, view an open-air concert that are frequently held on the weekends, and view the London skyline from Parliament Hill. Iconic buildings in Hampstead include the Burgh House, which initially housed the doctor that discovered the healing remedies in the water, and the Isokon Building, which is a house of unique flats where Jack Pritchard and Agatha Christie lived. There are many beautiful churches and museums including the Hampstead Museum, the Freud Museum, and the Keats House Museum.
Hampstead is also known for its pubs and restaurants known for the range of food offered. The Spaniards Inn on Spaniards Road offers a traditional pub feel that is famous for being mentioned in Dickens’ Pickwick Papers, and it is said that Keats wrote, Ode to a Nightingale, in the pub itself. It is listed in the Telegraph as Top 100 Pubs in the UK. The highly rated, The Old White Bear, on Well Road, serves traditional European food at a good value. The rural and relaxed feel of Hampstead comes across in the quaint pubs and restaurants in the area.
Shopping in Hampstead is focused on Hampstead High Street, closed to Hampstead station. Along the high street there are numerous independent boutiques, directed to men and women, as well as well-known quality brands. Hobbs, contemporary English fashion boutique, opened its first store in Hampstead and since then has grown to having over one hundred branches throughout the United Kingdom. Also, Kurt Geiger, Nicole Farhi, and Reiss all have shops on the high street.
Hampstead is well linked to Central London, both through the Underground options and well as bus routes. Via the Underground, Hampstead Station in the northern part of Hampstead and Belsize Park Station in the eastern part both service the Northern Line, and Swiss Cottage Station services the Jubilee Line in the southern part. All these stations fall within Zone 2, Hampstead being the boundary between Zone 2 and 3.
There are numerous options for schools within and around Hampstead. Being outside of London, this area is dominated more by families and the amount of schools reflects that demographic. Christchurch Primary School, New End Primary School, and the Academy School are just a few of the primary schools in the area and Hampstead Hill School offers their services to younger children.
Being outside of the major Central London areas, the price per square foot is lower than in the wealthy regions like Mayfair, Knightsbridge, and Kensington. However, the demand for property outside of London that is well linked is high so property prices remain high. A stunning house in Daleham Gardens is on the market for £15,000,000 pounds at £1,561 per square foot. Another detached house on Oak Hill Way is on the market for £8,500,000 at £2,186 per square foot. The spacious layout of Hampstead leads to more houses with generous gardens than regions in Central London without the luxury of extra space. In 2011, the average price per square foot of properties sold was about £1,000 per square foot. Compared to Central London, Hampstead has a lower price per square foot and generally the properties are larger.