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Battery Hill ~

The Battery is that area of open grassland at the junction of The Drive that leads from Spaniards Road, past the upper edge of The Vale Of Health and that path that leads on to the Viaduct Bridge, on the right.

Battery Hill is marked by a large oak on the left of The Battery and a steep slope leading down to paths to the Kenwood Estate and other parts of The Heath.

During the Napoleonic Wars, in about 1798, a LOYAL Hampstead Association was formed and its captain was Josiah Boydell.

"Battery" originates  from the area being their training and shooting ground.

The LHA, composed of well respected gentlemen, had a field day in the summer of that year while a shooting contest and dinner took place in The Long Room in Well Walk in 1801.

The Association was disbanded between 1802-3.

In the early 1800s, there was a theatre on Southwood Lane, on a bowling green belonging to The Castle Tavern, opposite a house called The Elms (which became Radlett House/Southwood Hospital in more recent years).

The theatre had originally been temporarily part of The White Lion Tavern Assembly Rooms.

It was patronized by Mrs. Coutts and in 1810 a doggerel was sung by a Mr. Thompson, which encapsulates the very spirit of defiance to a possible Napoleonic invasion......


"All the world's in a fright, and thinks Boney is coming.
But, bless you, good folks, I'm sure he is humming;
If such are his thoughts let him come if he dare ;
When he starts, why to drub him we’ll quickly repair.
(Tol de rol, etc., ad lib.)
" If to Highgate should come, then, the poor simple soul,
At the Gate House, I'm sure, they'd make him pay toll ;
And the folks at the Castle he'd find were no lubbers ;
If he must play at bowls, he must even take rubbers.
(Tol de rol, etc.)
" At the Angel, the Bull, the Bell or Green Dragon,
He'll find that his quarters are nothing to brag on ;
It won't do at the Nelson his liquor to sup,
For he'll find that the landlady's "Prime" and bang up.
(Tol de rol, etc.)
At the Lion I'm sure he'll find a "Goodman,"
And the Crown, we all know, he'll grasp if he can ;
The Coopers Arms and the Mitre would tease him, I fear, —
For two English widows can match one Mounseer.
(Tol de rol, etc.)
" He'd be wrong at the Flask, the Fox or Rose and Crown,
And " Dutton's " stout Wrestlers would soon have him down ;
If he gets in the Sun, it's all over, we know,
And at the Duke's Head he'd be lost in the " Snow.'
(Tol de rol, etc.)
" The Coach and Horses have drawn me near the end of my song,
With sledge hammer the landlord Boney 's pate would lay on ;
He'd find in these quarters he made a wrong choice,
For he'd meet with his match in fat, gouty " Dick Joyce."
(Tol de rol, etc.)
" But, my very good friends, away with your fears,
You know we are guarded by brave volunteers :
Should Boney once land, it would not be long
Ere we st
op his career, sirs, — and here stops my song.
(Tol de rol, etc.)


All the later years of Keats's life, until his departure for Rome, were passed at Hampstead, and here all his finest poetry was written.
This area was a favourite place for writing and reflection.

Approaching The Battery from Spaniards Road
Upper Viaduct Path. The Battery is at the junction of a path that goes through to Kenwood on the left and The Viaduct on the right.
Early Morning...The Vale Of Health from Battery Hill as it was

Leigh Hunt says:—"The poem with which his first volume begins was suggested to him on a delightful summer day, as he stood by the gate which leads from the battery on Hampstead Heath into a field by Caen Wood; and the last poem, the one on 'Sleep and Poetry,' was occasioned by his sleeping in the Vale of Health."

There are, perhaps, few spots in the neighbourhood of Hampstead more likely to have suggested the following lines to the sensitive mind of poor Keats than the high ground overlooking the Vale of Health:—
"To one who has been long in city pent
'Tis very sweet to look into the fair
And open space of heaven—to breathe a prayer
Full in the smile of the blue firmament.
Who is more happy when, with heart's content,
Fatigued he sinks into some pleasant lair
Of wavy grass, and reads a debonair
And gentle tale of love and languishment?
Returning home at evening with an ear
Catching the notes of Philomel—an eyeWatching the sailing cloudlets' bright career,
He mourns that day so soon has glided by,
E'en like the passage of an angel's tear,That falls through the clear ether silently."

No wonder that great painters as well as poets have loved this spot, and made it hallowed ground.

Romney, Morland, Haydon, Constable, Collins, Blake, Linnell, Herbert, and Clarkson Stanfield have all in their turn either lived in Hampstead, or, at the least, frequented it, studying, as artists and poets only can, the glorious "sunset effects" and wondrous contrasts of light and shade.

These can be seen here far better than anywhere else within five miles of St. Paul's or Charing Cross.

Linnell, the painter of the "Eve of the Deluge" and the "Return of Ulysses," made frequently his abode at a cottage beyond the Heath, between North End and the "Spaniards."
To this quiet nook very often resorted, on Sunday afternoons, his friend William Blake, that "dreamer of dreams and seer of visions," and John Varley, artist and astrologer, who were as strange a pair as ever trod this earth.

Goldsmith, who loved to walk here, describes the view from the top of the hill as finer than anything he had seen in his wanderings abroad; and yet he wrote "The Traveller," and had visited the sunny south.

The Battery
Battery Hill
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