A beautiful, grassy hill just located north of London with a stunning panoramic view is the Primrose Hill. It has a 360-degree view of the city, surrounded by pastel-shaded townhouses, Victorian-styled terraces, cafes, and residential buildings.
The natural hill starts on plain land and rises to about 64 meters above sea level. It has a clear and wonderful view of Regent’s Park, Belsize Park (in the winter), and Hampstead and provides a serene sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of London.
From popular history, you might already know that Primrose Hill was once part of a great chase (i.e., hunting grounds) appropriated by King Henry VIII. But there is more to the history of Primrose Hill that you may not know.
Primrose Hill (then named the “Forest of Middlesex”) was once a dense forest in Northwest London where people hunted wild ox, boars, and deer. But, with the fall of King Henry III’s royal tenure, the forest turned into an open field and meadow with narrow streams.
From 1816 to 1820, the Regent’s Canal completed the canal in Primrose Hill. Right after that, in 1837, the “London and Birmingham Railway” curved Northeast Euston just around the area to make the first underground rail in London, later giving rise to Primrose Hill Conservation Area.
Becoming Primrose Hill
There are many claims behind the name, but in reality, the name came from the abundance of Primrose flowers on the hill during the Elizabethan times.
The third Baron Southampton (Charles FitzRoy) and Eton College owned the area until Charles decided to sell his land in 1840; after a year, the government took over the place. Thus, becoming the property of the Crown.
Through an Act of Parliament, the government decided that the hill was a token of London’s history and declared it a secure public space in 1842.
As Primrose Hill became open to the public, people started using the area as a park to spend their leisure time. So the authorities took the initiative to add more “park-like” features after draining and leveling the land in 1851.
During the reign of Henry VIII, a well-known fortune teller, Mother Shipton, predicted that London streets would be flowing with blood when Primrose Hill surrounded the city. But her premonition wrong has been proved wrong; far from flowing with blood, few places in London are as pleasant as Primrose Hill and the areas around it.
Among the interesting events that the grounds witnessed, there are quite a few that we must mention. For instance, on June 21, 1792, Edward Williams, an antiquarian and Unitarian poet, founded a Welsh community (Gorsedd) at a Primrose Hill ceremony.
On top of the hill, you will also find “Shakespeare’s Tree,” an oak tree planted as a tribute to Shakespeare’s 300th birth anniversary.
What to Look for?
Primrose Hill is definitely the place to go if you are looking for colorful specimens of Victorian-era architecture.
The architectural beauties here include 19th-century white, symmetrical, and narrow houses with red Victorian brick terraces. There are also Italianate Stuccoed Villas resembling bare walls of stone. However, people have now painted them in pastel shades.
The residents of the buildings decorate the buildings’ keystones, scrolled brackets, window stools, and pediments with flowers or other decorative pieces.
Aside from the beautiful buildings, there is Chalcot Square at the center of the hill, with different coloured four-storied houses with green grass surrounding it. You will also see several (seven, to be precise) blue plaques of English Heritage marking seven historical characters who resided in Primrose Hill.
You can also find equally magnificent examples of the best of 20th-century architecture. For instance, at 2 Regent’s Park Road, you will find the Cecil Sharp House, designed by Henry Martineau Fletcher in 1929. While this neo-Georgian-style house was originally designed for the English Folk Dance and Song Society, its charming beauty today appeals to tons of visitors.
Now, when you walk up to 10 Regent’s Park Road, you will see beautiful Utopian housing positioned on a Victorian Stuccoed Terrace with a red brick chimney, concrete balcony, wooden door garages, large windows, and generous sizes of flats. This was the ideal build for Erno Goldfinger in 1955.
Activities to Look Forward to
You have so many options for fun activities in Primrose Hill, many of them extremely pocket-friendly. Lined up along the streets are restaurants, cafes, and bars, or if you like books, there’s Primrose Hill Books.
However, if you want to spend a peaceful day on the hill, pack snacks and have a small picnic at the hill while enjoying spectacularly gorgeous views of the London skyline. The place is also great for enjoying views of sunrise, sunset, or New Year’s Fireworks.
Moreover, if you have children, they will surely enjoy a zoo visit, just a short walk away in Regent’s Park!
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