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Hidden in the Heath: The Hill Garden and Pergola of Hampstead

Science Centres and Museums of ACT and NSW: Mt Stromlo Visitor Centre, CSIRO Discovery Centre, Questacon, Powerhouse, and Scienceworks

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Resuming my documentation of London adventures! Tucked away in a corner near to Hampstead Heath is the strangely picturesque Hill Garden and Pergola. I have visited Hampstead Heath on many an occasion but honestly this isn’t likely to be a part that one is likely to stumble over on a walk on the heath, as it is completely separated from the main grassy verge (that everyone gravitates to) by two roads. Technically speaking it is adjacent to Golders Hill Park and its easiest approach is via a pedestrian footpath on Inverforth Close (via N End Way) [Buses 210, 268, and N5 also ply N End Way]

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The Pergola is a Grade II listed Edwardian structure built by Lord Leverhulme, together with his dream of having a hill garden. At the time in 1905 as it was being constructed, the nearby Hampstead extension to the Northern Line was also being constructed, so Leverhulme was able to acquire the soil dug up from those tunnels at a nominal cost and used that to build the rolling hills you see in the Hill Garden today.

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You have to walk towards the houses and take the right turn into the Hill Garden.

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It leads onto a beautiful garden with a pond, with the Pergola beyond…

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It can be a real trek but it is definitely worth the effort to walk from Hampstead Heath to see the Pergola. Whilst I was there I didn’t see a single soul except at the front, where there was a lady who seemed to be part of the garden staff and she came up to me to ask “are you the girl who is coming down to do the shoot?” (No…) and that was it. How strange it is on a summer’s day when all the parks are teeming with people intent on baking themselves in the sun – yet this hidden corner of the heath with all of its structures remained completely devoid of people – which I suppose must also deviate from Leverhulme’s original vision of summer garden parties on the Pergola. Perhaps it is just a bit hard to get to, as compared to the other part of Hampstead Heath.

(Now that I’ve told you about the secret of the garden, I will have to kill you…) (KIDDING!)

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