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Primrose Hill

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A delightful vantage point and its outrageously expensive residential surroundings, situated immediately north of Regent’s Park. The woodland here was granted to Eton College by Henry VI, at a time when the name Primrose Hill was first coming into use. The hill was cleared of trees in the mid-seventeenth century and remained as farmland until the arrival of the railway, when both the college and neighbouring landowner Lord Southampton seized the opportunity to sell building plots. St Mark’s church was begun in 1851 and a station opened in the same year, under the name Hampstead Road. Shortly afterwards Chalcot Square was laid out with stuccoed Italianate villas, while its central garden was planted with acacia trees. The Crown acquired the summit of the hill for public use, granting the college some land near Windsor in exchange. Primrose Hill Road was built in the 1870s to improve access to the college estate. By 1900 the present built environment was almost complete. Primrose Hill in the 1960s has been described as “the very last word in London bohemia,” but now it’s simply posh. The sightlines from Primrose Hill towards St Paul’s Cathedral and the Palace of Westminster are among a handful of officially designated strategic views that are safeguarded from inappropriate development.

Sylvia Plath wrote her autobiographical novel The Bell Jar while living in Chalcot Square between January 1960 and the summer of 1961. WB Yeats, Alan Bennett and Kingsley and Martin Amis are among other literati who have lived locally. Primrose Hill is the title of a 1982 track by local boys Madness and a 1999 debut novel by Helen Falconer.

View from Primrose Hill
click for area map (opens in a new window)
Regent's Park Road has a cluster of agreeable shops, cafes and restaurants

Postal districts: NW1, NW3 and NW8
Population: 11,574 (ward of Camden Town with Primrose Hill)
Further reading: Simon Jenkins, Alan Bennett et al, Primrose Hill Remembered, Friends of Chalk Farm Library, 2001

A guide to the village
Text and selected images are reproduced with the permission of Chambers but may differ from the published versions
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