We will take advantage of London’s late summer days to organise a cultural excursion; a tour of ‘Creative Hampstead’ and its ‘creative climate’ with insights from our creativity expert, Dr. Kyung Hee Kim. We will explore this area of London to see what about it is about its historic and contemporary urban environment, the lush and extensive outdoor environment of nearby Hampstead Heath, and the social interactions and cultural activities of the residents who live here that have provided inspiration for so many creative minds in the past and present.
Hampstead Village was settled by the Saxons who farmed this area in the hills above the City of London. In the late 1600s, it became a refuge for wealthy Londoners fleeing the plague of 1665 and the Great Fire of London. A spring with ‘healing qualities’ was discovered in the 1700s, making it a spa town for people seeking its restorative waters. This began the ‘gentrification’ of this area that has continued to draw artists and intellectuals to the present day.
It has many beautiful grand houses, such as 18th Century Fenton House (a National Trust property), and Kenwood House built in the 17th Century for the Earl of Mansfield by architect Robert Adam. It is now part of the Victoria and Albert Museum and is occasionally used as a film set (Notting Hill). A nearby marsh was drained and became part of Hampstead Heath, a vast unspoiled wilderness and open land owned by the Corporation of London.
Hampstead attracted people such as John Keats, who wrote Ode to a Nightingale in the garden of the house that is now a public library, D.H. Lawrence, John Constable, Sir Edward Elgar, Sir Richard Burton (explorer) and his namesake Richard Burton (actor), Elizabeth Taylor, John Le Carre, Charles Dickens, Jacqueline du Pres, Ian Fleming, Sigmund Freud, Anna Pavlova, George Romney, William Hogarth, Lord Alfred Tennyson, Anna Pavlova, George Du Maurier, Samuel Johnson, Lord Yehudi Menuhin, Henry Moore, Florence Nightingale, George Orwell, Robert Louis Stevenson, and William Wordsworth.
More recent residents who live down quiet cobble-stone streets, characterised by pretty cottages with magnificent views of London and The Heath, include Sting (a former teacher!), Rex Harrison, Jim Henson, Sigmund Freud, Dame Judy Dench, and Peter O’Toole.
We will finish in time for those who are interested to stay for a light bite of supper in one of the many charming local pubs.