A bit of Primrose Hill

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.

Primrose Hill
Primrose Hill
Click for Google Map

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.

Apartment block
Apartment block
Primrose Hill

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.

St Mary-the-Virgin Primrose Hill
St Mary-the-Virgin Primrose Hill

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.

Primrose Hill
Primrose Hill
The park

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.

A view from the hill
A view from the hill

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.

People on the hill
People on the hill

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.

Looking back up the hill
Looking back up the hill

Impressed with the scene, I took the above photo looking back up the hill.

Memorial drinking fountain
Memorial drinking fountain
To Joseph Payne

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:

DIED MARCH 29, 1870


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.

Copyright © 2015 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.


About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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6 Responses to A bit of Primrose Hill

  1. Lovely hill with a view. The water fountain is a bit amusing, but nice it was installed for the public

    • SilverTiger says:

      Drinking fountains dating from the Victorian era are a feature of most of our towns. Most were built to provide clean water for drinking and to promote temperance, though some were erected as memorials.

      • Knew about the fountains as memorials, but the temperance purpose was totally new. History is full of odd little tidbits about humans

        • SilverTiger says:

          Yes, many drinking fountains were set up by temperance societies. There were also temperance halls which had all the facilities of working men’s clubs but with non-alcoholic beverages. Ironically, many of these have in modern times been turned into pubs.

  2. WOL says:

    It is a lovely green space with, as you showed, quite a great view. In a climate such as yours, I am not surprised at the number of people who were making fun while the sun shines. Having such green spaces dotted through the city is foresightful planning and I would say an absolute requirement for making a city not only habitable but enjoyable.

    • SilverTiger says:

      London is fortunate in having so many green spaces. All have a history, whether as old hunting grounds or the lands of monasteries and manors. It’s good to see people making good use of them.

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