Hidden London

Frognal

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Camden

An idyllic locality and leafy street meandering between Hampstead and West Hampstead. Perhaps unexpectedly, the name does signify that this was once a nook frequented by frogs. Frognal was recorded in the early 15th century as a ‘customary tenement’, an estate held on condition that the customs of the manor (of Hampstead) were adhered to, which involved performing certain tasks and making various payments. During the 17th and 18th centuries Frognal gained a reputation for the ‘salubrity of its air and soil’ and grew from a single house and farm to a collection of cottages and mansions, many of which adopted the Frognal name. These included Frognal Hall, Frognal Grove, Frognal Priory and, in 1806, Frognal Park – possibly the grandest of them all. The creation of the Finchley Road rendered southern Frognal ripe for development, but a number of legalities prevented its exploitation until the 1870s, when the road called Frognal was extended southwards. Frognal House, at 99 Frognal, occupies the site of the original Frognal house. During the latter part of World War II, General de Gaulle lived at Frognal House, directing the efforts of the Free French forces. In the Frognal and Fitzjohns ward, 17 per cent of residents are Jewish and 59 per cent of 16- to 74-year-olds are qualified to degree level or above.

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The former home of Sigmund and Anna Freud

20 Maresfield Gardens, was Freud’s last residence after fleeing Nazi Austria in 1938. He died here the following year, but his daughter Anna continued to live and work in the house until 1982. Visitors can now see the library and study, which contain the great man’s personal collection of antiquities and books, as well as his psychoanalytic couch.

Postal district: NW3
Population: 11,632 (ward of Frognal and Fitzjohns)
Station: Silverlink Metro (Finchley Road & Frognal, zone 2)
Further reading: Marina Warner, 20 Maresfield Gardens: The Freud Museum, Serpent’s Tail, 1998

Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

 
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