We started today in leisurely fashion, walking down towards King’s Cross, where we had brunch at the Station Cafe. Then we crossed to St Pancras Station (King’s Cross and St Pancras stations sit side by side, built by competing railway companies in 1852 and 1868, respectively) to catch a bus onward to Hampstead.
Between the two stations is the Grade II listed Great Northern Hotel built in 1854. There were fears that this building might be demolished as part of the rebuilding of Kings Cross but it has now been refurbished and will reopen as a “boutique hotel”.
Hilly Hampstead High Street is usually a busy thoroughfare but today it was closed to motor traffic for the annual Hampstead Christmas Fair.
There were reindeer with whom to have your photo taken…
a donkey and a pony demonstrating advanced hay munching techniques…
and a handsome pair of rather plump goats, including this pretty female.
There were (wheeled) sleigh rides, though Santa’s little helpers seemed to have some difficulty turning the horse.
Others took their pleasure by going for a spin.
We thought of taking a coffee break but, as you can imagine, everywhere was packed. We turned off along Flask Walk and walked down the hill, thinking we might call in at a pub we know.
Our way took us past the old public baths and wash house, built in 1888, and now converted into rather picturesque dwellings.
We remembered that the historic Burgh House, built as a family home in 1704 and today a museum and art gallery and venue for cultural activities, has a rather nice cafe in the basement. Refreshed by tea and a slice of cake, we continued down Flask Walk.
Flask Walk leads to Willow Road where these cottages stand. They were built between 1852 and 1862 for people who gathered watercress from Hampstead ponds.
Pedants like me might be interested in the “greengrocer’s apostrophe” in the name plaque, showing that this mistake is not modern but was being made at least by Victorian times.
This is where we were heading: to number 2 Willow Road, the Modernist-style house built for himself and his family in 1939 by Hungarian architect Ernö Goldfinger. The house is today in the care of the National Trust and visitors have the choice of exploring the building themselves or joining one of the tours led by a knowledgeable guide.
Photography is not allowed in the house so, unfortunately, I cannot show you anything of the interior.
Hampstead here borders on Hampstead Heath, where the trees were dressed in autumn colours. Away from the city streets, and despite the sunshine, there was a heavy frost in the grass.
The water in the horse trough was frozen. I think this is our coldest day so far.
The guided tour was quite long and afterwards I felt I needed to sit down and have coffee. We walked on down to South End Green and had coffee and toasted tea cakes at Polly’s Cafe.
Night had fallen by the time we emerged, even though it was not that late.
There was still activity in the streets, such as this fruit and veg stall outside Hampstead Heath station, even though it was bitterly cold. I was happy to go to the bus stop. This is the terminus and the bus drivers stop for a rest. You’re lucky if the bus is already there but you may still have to wait for it to wake up.
Hampstead is always an interesting place to visit and the Christmas Fair added extra excitement. The Goldfinger house was interesting to visit, but I don’t think I would feel comfortable living there. From a historical perspective, however, it was worth seeing.