Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Hampstead's best kept secret - the Pergola

The Pergola and Hill Garden are Hampstead’s best-kept secrets. So secret in fact that though I know this part of northwest London fairly well, this little patch of Edwardian magic sandwiched between Golders Hill Park and Hampstead Heath had alluded me until about six months ago.
Now I’m a regular visitor. Clearly professional photographers don’t share my ignorance – often a fashion shoot is under way. They are drawn by the raised terrace and vine covered colonnaded walk, as a perfect dreamy backdrop for their pictures.
The story of how soap magnate Lord Leverhulme financed the building of the Pergola using the soil from the northward excavation of the Northern tube line is fascinating in itself.
Access to the area is free and is open daily from around 8.30am to an hour or so before dusk. It is signposted from the café in Golders Hill Park (my preferred route) or else it is approached walking down North End Way and is a turning (a rough gravel path) on the left just beyond the Jack Straw’s Castle development.
The picture above was taken in winter; come the spring and summer the combined talents of Mother Nature and highly skilled gardeners are much in evidence.
My excursion usually takes me to Golders Green tube station where I pick up some sushi at the Japanese grocery Hello Kitchen opposite the station. I picnic in Golders Hill Park – worth a visit in itself complete with bandstand, ornamental ponds and gardens, and a zoo.
Perhaps an ice cream at the café and then follow the rough track to the Pergola. From here Whitestone Pond and Hampstead village isn’t far away.


What do you think? GC