Sunday, June 7th 2015
We didn’t feel very active or adventurous today and took things slowly. We caught the 214 to Camden Town and had breakfast in Bayou Soul in Inverness Street, then dragged the shopping trolley round to the local branch of Sainsbury’s. I think I mentioned that the Islington Sainsbury’s continually has items missing from the shelves and this annoyance prompted us to try our luck elsewhere.
In the afternoon we perked up a little and went out. Tigger knew, as Tigger always does, exactly where she wanted to go and so we took a bus to the idyllically named Primrose Hill.
In ancient times, this area was covered with forest and formed part of Henry VIII’s hunting grounds but in the reign of Elizabeth I it was cleared to make farmland. What remains of this, now surrounded by roads and buildings, has been turned into parks, the largest being Regent’s Park, home of London Zoo. To the north of this park is a hill also now made into parkland. The name Primrose Hill seems to have arisen in the 15th century, no doubt because the hill was then covered with primroses. I have seen several estimates of the height of Primrose Hill at its highest but the official one seems to be 206 ft (63 m). This is high enough to attract sightseers on a fine day to take in the view.
Not only the actual hill but also the surrounding area is known as Primrose Hill, described by one source1 as ‘A delightful vantage point and its outrageously expensive residential surroundings…’ Whether the apartment block pictured above is ‘outrageously expensive’ to live in, I do not know but suspect it might be.
The local parish church is dedicated to St Mary the Virgin. I haven’t been able to find out much about it other than that it opened in 1872, according to the church’s own Website.
We entered the park, which is very pleasant and well tended, with a mixture of open spaces and tree cover. People were strolling, sitting, picnicking and playing games, enjoying the sudden onset of warm and sunny weather.
Somewhat to my surprise, I saw that the highest point of the hill was crowded. I at first assumed that there must be some ‘event’ in progress as I found it hard to believe that all those people were there just for the view. But apparently they were.
I succeeded, with a little pushing and shoving, in obtaining the above view, looking towards the City. You may be able to recognize some of the better known tall buildings.
It was necessary to engage in a certain amount of ducking and weaving to avoid groups of people taking photos of themselves and one another. Apart from these, there was what could by fairly described as a multitude sitting in groups and apparently enjoying themselves greatly.
We made our way down the hill, hoping to find a bus to take us back to the Angel.
Impressed with the scene, I took the above photo looking back up the hill.
We left by the gate at the junction of Regent’s Park Road and Albert Terrace. Here we found a drinking fountain, that almost archetypal symbol of Victorian social do-goodery. Sometimes they were were made on the initiative and at the expense of a living philanthropist and at other times, as here, were raised as memorials to an admired figure now deceased. This one has a brass plate inscribed as follows:
IN MEMORY OF
JOSEPH PAYNE, ESQ.
A ZEALOUS TOTAL ABSTAINER
AND A FAITHFUL FRIEND OF
BANDS OF HOPE
DIED MARCH 29, 1870
ERECTED BY THE COMMITTEE AND
FRIENDS OF THE UNITED KINGDOM
BAND OF HOPE UNION
This reminds us that while the provision of clean and disease-free drinking water for the population was a goal in itself, an important corollary was that of weaning folk away from the demon drink, a campaign that continues in our own day.
1Russ Willey, Chambers London Gazeteer.