Burgh House, New End Square, London NW3 1LT
Burgh House dates from 1703, when it was built for the physician at Hampstead Spa. The spa, based in this area and remembered in name by Well Walk, offered medicinal waters from springs on the Heath and was the initial reason for Hampstead turning from rural hamlet, surrounded by Heath, country estates and farmland, into a burgeoning London suburb. As you will learn if you visit the small museum of local history at this friendly, community-run house-museum with its cafe and exhibition rooms. If you live in Hampstead or enjoy roaming its streets, the museum comes recommended, with its models, photos and mementoes of Hampstead from earliest times through to wartime bombing (Henry Moore drew his pictures of tunnel sleepers in the specially constructed passages below Belsize Park tube) and modernist movement houses like 2 Willow Road.
If you’re visting Burgh House, much of this local history is on its doorstep. Well Walk retains a solitary fountain (and a decent pub – the Wells Tavern), and across the road a turning leads into possibly Hampstead’s finest address, the delightful Gainsborough Gardens. Willow Road is just downhill, as is Keats’ House on Keats Grove, which with neighbouring Downshire Hill is worth wandering along to admire its original cottages, Regency villas and church, as well as a couple of significant modern houses – Michael and Patty Hopkins’ 1975 glass house at 49a Downshire Hill and MJH and Charlotte Bunney’s modernist take on a Regency house at no 13. For further Hampstead town walks, make your way up to Heath Street and Church Row, and then on to Fenton House and West Heath.