Gospel Oak

Rail station, existing between 1863 and now

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Gospel Oak

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Rail station · Belsize Park · NW3 ·
October
14
2015

Gospel Oak is an inner suburb of north London below Hampstead Heath.

The name derives from an oak tree, under which parishioners gathered to hear an annual gospel reading when the area was still rural. Lords Mansfield, Southampton and Lisburne were the local landowners when development began in the mid-19th century. Plans were drawn up for elegant streets radiating from Lismore Circus but after two railway lines were extended across the area the first buildings were two- and three-storey cottages for "navvies and quarrelsome shoemakers." Later the neighbourhood became more respectable and solidly residential.

All Hallows Church by James Brooks is a notable late Victorian church. After World War II much of the original housing around Lismore Circus was demolished and a series of estates built for Camden Council. Today Gospel Oak is a socially mixed area with its share of inner-city problems but a very strong community spirit. Famous residents include Tony Blair?s former head of communications Alastair Campbell and his partner journalist Fiona Millar, ex-Python Michael Palin, and Britain’s top networker Carole Stone and her husband broadcaster Richard Lindley.


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THE STREETS OF GOSPEL OAK
Baptist Gardens, NW5 Baptist Gardens is a street in Kentish Town.
Chaston Place, NW5 Chaston Place is a street in Kentish Town.
Elaine Grove, NW3 Elaine Grove is a street in the Gospel Oak area.
Grafton Terrace, NW5 Grafton Terrace is a street in Kentish Town.
Haverstock Road, NW5 Haverstock Road is a street in Kentish Town.
Herbert Street, NW5 Herbert Street is a street in Kentish Town.
Lismore Circus, NW5 Lismore Circus was a former Victorian circus with six streets radiating from it.
Malden Place, NW5 Malden Place is a street in Kentish Town.
Mansfield Place, NW3 Mansfield Place is a road in the NW3 postcode area
Modbury Gardens, NW5 Modbury Gardens is a street in Kentish Town.
Prince of Wales Road, NW3 Prince of Wales Road is a street in Hampstead.
Quadrant Grove, NW5 Quadrant Grove is a street in Kentish Town.
Southampton Road, NW3 Southampton Road is a street in Hampstead.
Thurlow Terrace, NW5 Thurlow Terrace is a street in Kentish Town.


Belsize Park

The Manor of Belsize dates back to 1317, with the name is derived from French bel assis meaning 'well situated'.

Belsize Manor was built by Daniel O'Neill for his wife, the Countess of Chesterfield, in the 17th century. Urbanisation took place largely between 1852 and 1878, by which time it extended to Haverstock Hill. After World War I, the construction of blocks of flats began, and now a great many of the larger houses are also converted into flats.

Belsize Park underground station was opened on 22 June 1907 by the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway as an intermediate station on its line from Charing Cross to Hampstead. It is served by three lifts and there are 219 steps. The station was designed by Leslie Green and has his familiar facade of ox-blood faience with four round arched windows. It remained largely untouched until the late 1980s when the lifts were replaced and a new ticketing system installed.

It was during the 1930s that Belsize Park contributed most to the artistic and intellectual life of Hampstead. Artists associated with the Mall studios included Dame Barbara Hepworth from 1927 to 1939, her first husband John Skeaping and second Ben Nicholson from 1931 to 1939, and Henry Moore, who lived at no. 11A Parkhill Road from 1929 to 1940. They were members of Unit One, a group of artists and architects founded in 1933 by Paul Nash (1889-1946), who lived at no. 3 Eldon Grove from 1936 to 1939. Sir Herbert Read, the poet and art critic, who lived in 1934-5 at the Mall studios, which he described as a 'nest of gentle artists', published the group's manifesto, a theory of modern style.

Another centre was no. 37 Belsize Park Gardens, meeting place of MARS, an architectural group, and home of Jack Pritchard, who founded Isokon, a firm making modern furniture designed by people like Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, refugees who brought a European dimension to the abstract design movement in the arts. Others included Piet Mondrian, the Dutch painter, who stayed with the Pritchards before moving to no. 60 Parkhill Road (1938-41). Pritchard also commissioned Wells Coates in 1934 to build the Isokon or Lawn Road flats, partly to house artistic refugees, on a site which he owned. Built in concrete in a functional style, the flats came to be recognized as 'a milestone in the introduction of the modern idiom into London'.

In World War II, a large underground air-raid shelter was built here and its entrance can still be seen near the tube station at Downside Crescent. The area on Haverstock Hill north of Belsize Park underground station up to Hampstead Town Hall and including part of a primary school near the Royal Free Hospital was heavily bombed.

Belsize Park these days is a lively area with many restaurants, pubs and cafés along Haverstock Hill and also England's Lane.

Glossary: A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 9, edited by C R Elrington.

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