Church Row and around
Church Row Hampstead London NW3 6UU
Church Row is one of Hampstead’s loveliest corners – a street of early eighteenth-century houses, with their original wrought iron-work gates and lamps, framed at its far end by the tower and spire of Hampstead’s Parish Church, St John’s. This is the church of choice for casual worshippers, with a fabulous organ and choir, and hosts a stirring midnight mass at Christmas. The churchyard is worth a look around, with its monuments to the painter John Constable and to the great clockmaker John Harrison, who solved the problem of establishing longitude and thus revolutionised long-distance sea travel. The comedian Peter Cook and Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell are also buried here, as are the Llewellyn Davies family, who as children inspired JM Barrie’s classic, Peter Pan.
If you walk downhill from the churchyard, along the gravelled Frognal Way, you get views over London and a remarkable collection of inter-war villas, including the former home of Gracie Fields (though she lived mainly on Capri) and the gorgeous Sun House, designed in 1935 by the British-born modernist, Max Fry. Alternatively, for another brief Hampstead town walk through fabulous real estate, head north (past the graveyard extension) up Holly Walk and Mount Vernon and you will emerge at Holly Bush Hill – a tiny village green, with the wonderful Holly Bush pub just down (and across) the road. If you’re not sidetracked, press on up Hampstead Grove and you will come to Fenton House, Hampstead’s oldest mansion. There’s a continuation of this walk in the Fenton House entry.