Historical Summary Of Hampstead Heath

Early 18th century Hampstead becomes a spa and a township arises South of the Heath.

Early 19th century Spa days are only short lived and it becomes an increasingly popular place for residence.

From 1829 Lord of the Manor (Sir Thomas Maryon Wilson) attempts to sell or build on parts of the Heath much to public disapproval. His efforts, which were intermittent over 40 years mostly failed.

1850s Sir Thomas tried in vain to turn the Heath into parkland. He also built a brickworks and increased extraction of sand and gravel from the Heath, an old, lucrative but environmentally unfriendly practice.

1860 Hampstead Heath station opens and the Heath becomes more accessible to the London population.

1869 Sir Thomas dies.

1871 Sir Thomas’ brother, Sir John, having inherited the estate, agrees to sell his rights over the Heath in the Hampstead Heath Act.

1888 The Heath finally becomes public property when the Metropolitan Board of Works (MBW) takes possession of 240 acres of land and stops sand extraction on the Heath.

1886-88 Thanks largely to the efforts of the philanthropic Baroness Burdett-Coutts, founder of the National Trust, the MBW is able to acquire a further 261 acres of the Heath.

1888 London County Council (LCC) is formed and takes over responsibility for the Heath, reviving fears that it might be turned into a municipal park.

1907 There is a major addition to the Heath with the purchase of the Hampstead Heath Extension with both public and private funding, to counter the threat of building which had arisen due to the planning of a new tube station at Golders Green.

1925 LCC acquires Paddock.

Mid/Late 1920s The house and estate of Kenwood, for generations the London seat of the Earl of Mansfield, becomes public property.

1939-45 During World War II, sand is extracted from the Heath to fill sand bags and the pits later filled with rubble from bombed sites in London. Oil from a lorry part kills many trees and bren gun carriers kill the last heather plants on Sandy Heath (now reinstated).

1948 LCC adds the gardens of war-destroyed houses to the Heath.

1954 LCC and Hampstead Council acquire part of Pitt House grounds.

1959 LCC acquires Hill Garden.

1986 Greater London Council (GLR), LCC’s successor, is abolished. A New London Residnary Body takes temporary control of the Heath, excluding the Kenwood Estate, which is transferred to English Heritage.

1989 Corporation of London assumes responsibility for the Heath and maintenance of Kenwood.