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London at Christmas: Heavenly Hampstead

26/12/2012 12:00 pm
26/12/2012 3:00 pm

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This bewitching beguiling Boxing Day walk has been devised by experienced London Blue Badge guide Sue Grimditch and highly-regarded London historian and tour guide Ed Glinert, author of Penguin’s London Compendium, West End Chronicles and London’s Dead.

Yes, we’re the legendary Manchester team on Christmas call in London. It’s sort of like Manchester, just 200 miles southerly.


Hampstead is the most beautiful village in London (sorry Barnes and Richmond), glamorously and gloriously gazing over the capital from its romantic hill and heath setting high above the metropolis. For centuries the rich, righteous and roguish have come to taste its clean air, drink in its medicinal waters and make their home within its twisting winding, exquisite narrow streets.

And that’s why we’ll be leading through the village on Boxing Day in search of John Keats, Charles de Gaulle, George Orwell, Sigmund Freud, Gracie Fields, the last two women to be hanged and the only Labour Party leader to have been assassinated. We will be visiting Dracula’s “lonely churchyard, away from teeming London, where the air is fresh, and the sun rises over Hampstead Hill, and where wild flowers grow of their own accord”; we will be perambulating the most heart-stoppingly beautiful little lanes and leaways, gazing at the most wildly bonkers 1930s modernist houses you could ever imagine and slip into the largest open space within the boundaries of any of the world’s capitals where beacons were lit to warn of the approach of the Spanish Armada. (They’ve gone now).

* We’ll finish in the Freemasons’ Arms for some much needed sustenance.

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