Hampstead, Middlesex, famous for its Heath, pure air and fine scenery, lies North by West of London on the outer edge of the metropolitan boundary; the four mile circle cuts the south slope of the hill on which the village is built and the four and a half milestone is at the commencement of the Heath, north of the town. The North London and Hampstead Junction railway has stations at the Lower Heath, and in the Finchley Road; the Midland railway at Finchley Road, West End and Child's Hill. The Heath has been a great pleasure resort, Hampstead abounds in inns: those about the Heath are the Castle, better known as Jack Straw's Castle, on the summit, an excellent house; the Vale of Health Hotel, in the hollow to the east; the Spaniards, by the lane leading to Highgate; and the Bull and Bush, North End. Till about 1598, Hampstead was a chapelry of Hendon parish. It is now, not merely a separate parish but the mother church of eight ecclesiastical districts, which have been wholly or in part formed out of it. The manor of Hampstead was given by Ethelred to the Abbey of Westminster, and remained the property till surrendered, with the rest of the abbey estates, to Henry VIII, in 1539. It formed part of the endowment of he new bishopric of Westminster, Dec 1540.
Hampstead stands on one of the highest hills round London. The town occupies its southern slopes, the Heath its summit, which is 443 feet above the sea-level. The upper part of the hill is of sand, mostly coarse, yellow, ferruginous, and unfossiliferous, but occasionally fine and light coloured, and in places interstratified with seams of light-coloured sandy clay or loam; a capping, in fact, of the Bagshot Sand series, about 80 ft thick which overlies a stratum of dark sandy clay, 50 ft thick, and in the lower part rich in fossils, that may be seen between the Lower Heath and Parliament Hill, where it is worked for brick-making. Beneath this, and cropping out on all sides towards the base of the hill, is the London Clay being impervious to water, the sand resting upon it forms a water-bearing stratum, and hence from the sides of the hill, at nearly the same level, issue the copious springs for which Hampstead has long been noted.
The church St John, is little more than a century old. the former church rambling, mean and ruinous, was pulled down in 1745, and the present building erected in its stead, from the designs of Mr H Flitcroft, but has been somewhat altered since. It was consecrated by Bishop Gilbert, of Llandaf, in 1747. the church is a plain brick building of ordinary 18th century style, but has the peculiarity of having the tower at the east end, no chancel, and short transept-like projections at the west, so that to looks like a church turned around. the tower has a quaint, picturesque character; though it is less elaborate than that originally designed, and the spire, of copper, is much lower. However it may be architecturally, the tower is a pleasing feature in the landscape, and from the elevated site it is conspicuous over a wide area. The interior of the church is of no interest, and the monuments on the walls are not to persons of much account.
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