Tuesday, 6 March 2012


The By Invitation post this month is about our hometown or where we were born. I have decided to tell you all about the town where I was born.  That's me when I was about one !!

I was born in 'The Towers' in The Bishop's Avenue Hampstead London. This is the only photograph that I could find of it I'm afraid . It had 28 rooms, a bathroom for each bedroom ,an island with palm trees in the middle of its indoor swimming pool,a staircase fit for a Queen and a huge ballroom. 

Now, before you get the wrong idea that we were 'loaded', 'The Towers' used to be the home of Gracie Fields.  Dame Gracie Fields was an English born actress, singer and comedienne. She donated her house ' Tower'  in London's The Bishops Avenue, to a maternity hospital and that is how I came to be born in a road that is a favourite with the 'uber-rich' and was often referred to as  ' Millionaires Row' but, because of inflation, is now referred to as ' Billionaires Row' !!!!

This is an ariel view of The Bishops Avenue ............. 

.......... and the above are just a small selection of the houses that are some of the most expensive in the world.
'Towers' was demolished in the 1970's  and I think that five mansions were built on the site !

Hampstead village ranges from wide leafy avenues with imposing detached mansions to classically picturesque, almost medieval, lanes, squares and cul-de-sacs, packed with a fascinating variety of architectural styles, dating back 300 years and more, many with famous, historical literary connections.
Hampstead Heath, with it's hilly mixture of woodlands, gardens and pastures, provides an oasis from the surrounding urban stresses.

Trendy shops and arty cafés line Hampstead High Street while still retaining it's picturesque charm.........

........ and this is the High Street, looking the other way, in 1902 ..... it looked a little different then !!

The English romantic poet John Keats lived in Hampstead in the above house. He wrote his famous 'Ode to a Nightingale' there, under the plum tree in the front garden.

The old lock-up, used from 1730-1830.

Fenton House is a handsome,17th century merchant's house with a walled garden, that has remained architecturally little altered during more than 300 years of continuous occupation, and the garden, also remarkably unchanged, since 1756.

Set in beautiful landscaped parkland and in the midst of Hampstead Heath, Kenwood House is one of the most magnificent visitor attractions in London.
An elegant villa filled with paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Turner and Gainsborough.

 Since as early as 1860, and probably before, many hardy London folk have taken a dip before work in one of the three wooded ponds on Hampstead Heath. There is a Men's Pond, a Ladies' Pond and a Mixed Pond ( I know which one I'd swim in !!!!) all of which are shrouded underneath weeping willow trees and lush undergrowth, which is a lovely spot for a slightly murky swim !

 The Spaniards Inn is one of London's oldest pubs  and just one of a collection of old pubs in Hampstead. It has earned itself a place in the history books quite literally. Dickens immortalised it in The Pickwick Papers and, although it is said that John Keats wrote 'Ode to a Nightingale' in his garden, others say that he wrote it over a claret or two in the Spaniards Inn......and, Dick Turpin, the highwayman, is said to have been born there !

and finally, the wonderful view of the London skyline from Parliament Hill, Hampstead.

Please go over to Splenderosa and see where all of the other participants were born or now live.

image 1: via me, image 2: via our gracie.com, image 3: via english heritage, image 4: via this is london, image 5: via harrods estates, image 6: via bristol server, image 7: via telegraph, image 8 : via preppy clothes, image 9: via homes and property, image 10: via residential search.savills,  images 11, 12 & 13: via the virtual tour of hampstead, image 14: via local places, image 15: via hampstead heath.org, image 16: via wikipedia, image 17: via geograph, image 18: via examiner, image 19: via london-sightseeing.net



  1. Hello Jackie:
    What an absolutely fascinating post and one which gives such a very clear and insightful picture of a place as it is now and also as it was in the past. Such extraordinary wealth!!

    We were most intrigued to learn of the house in which you were born, and such a lovely photograph of you as a very bonny baby. It is something of a pity that 'The Towers' in The Bishop's Avenue has been demolished for it must have been a very spectacular place.

    Alas, we hardly know Hampstead at all although do have very fond memories of a visit to Erno Goldfinger's house close to The Heath. And isn't it amazing that there is still today, as you show, that spectacular view over London?

  2. Wow Jackie! amazing! I love Hampstead: I have been there just once in my life, but I've found it so magical...as regards me I was born in a little village in the Alps...yes...you can call me Heidi if you want! ;)

  3. This was very interesting! So fascinating to learn about the house where you were born & to learn about the history of Hampstead, all of which I would not know about otherwise. So thank you!

  4. Hi Jackie

    What a glorious and elegant beginning to your life. Well deserved! You were a beautiful young woman. Thank you for sharing your beautiful beginning.
    Oh to visit Kenwood House and view the art!!!

    A beautiful post

    Helen xx

  5. Hi Jackie...my post 'buddy' ;-)
    Wonderful beginnings you had and you were very cute...I love Hampstead...I still think it's very chic and I love to walk over the Heath...great selection of images too.
    Have a good week.

  6. Thank you for the story Jackie, very interesting.

  7. What a beautiful post Jackie,
    I enjoy it, the houses are great.
    But not to pay, for ordinary people, but beautiful to watch.
    I would like also want to look inside, hihi
    I wish you a nice day & warm regards,

  8. You have bought back such memories, I used to live in Highgate with 3 girls so you can imagine what we got up to, and once went to a party in millionairs road, (alias Bishops Avenue)! The Spaniards well many an evening spent there!! Thanks for the lovely post a great part of London and what a lovely baby you were!
    love Jills

  9. Such pretty images as always. I love the 9th photo looking into the common area with the white painted walls.....very pretty!

  10. It's a small world my husband grew up in Highgate. So I have visited Hampstead many times and I just love it. It is always one of the first stops we make when we are in London. We live California but try to visit as much as possible.
    I just love your blog you bring me a bit of pleasure everyday as I look at your wonderful pictures and read your post.
    Thank you,

  11. Well, everyone on earth has heard of Hampstead Heath, so now I can say I know someone who lived there! I just LOVE this, J. What a beautiful beautiful place. I actually had no idea about how it looks so this was a special treat for me. You and Catherine did a fabulous job on selecting our topic. Tina says the posts are her favorite ones so far. I'm keeping some of your photos for my inspiration files they are just so pretty. xx's

  12. I could be extremely happy to live there forever.

  13. A beautiful view of Hampstead Jackie.... xv

  14. the white hampstead villiage homes are just my style.
    what a lovely beginning you had.

    love to you my jax xxx

  15. Hi Jackie from your newest follwer. You were such a cutie and I have heard of Hamstead but am so thrilled to see it up close and in a soon de light! Wow... This was such a great post idea and I have so enjoyed doing my own post and visiting everyone!

    Tassels Twigs and Tastebuds

  16. Oh how fascinating! And so beautiful.

  17. What a beautiful place to be born and live....love it !!...xxx...hugs from me...

  18. Fascinating. I never new our Gracie lived in Bishops Avenue. You won't find many Lancashire lassies living there these days! I love Hampstead - it's managed to retain its character despite all the changes.

    Louise x (another Herts blogger)

  19. Thank you so much for the tour and the history lesson. I have never been to London (or the UK for that matter), but when I do make it across the big pond, this area will top my list of places to see. I love that amidst the winding urban streets, there is a park large enough to house 3 ponds and the fact that taking a morning dip is welcomed. It encompasses the best of all worlds, a bit of nature among the culture. Thanks for sharing this bit of your history!

  20. Love your baby picture and this wonderful account of this beautiful place then and now.

  21. Wonder account of your origins and this beautiful place then and now.

  22. That beautiful post makes me miss London so much ! And I hadn't heard of Gracie Field for ages ; my husband used to meet her all the time in Capri, where she went for her holidays. Lovely idea for a post anyway !

  23. Oh, Jackie, I'm so glad I popped in before we leave on our trip, because I'm planning on spending some time in Hampstead while we're there, and you've given me loads of ideas. I've been once before, and visited the heath as well as a couple of pubs, but this time I plan to go to the Keats House, and I now really do think I need to visit the Spaniards Inn so I can raise my glass to Keats, don't you think?

    Thanks for this wonderful tour of your hometown! xoxo Gigi

    P.S. Love that photo of you!

  24. What a great post Jackie ~ love seeing your hometown ~ it is gorgeous!! Someday I will get over there and experience all that London has to offer. Cute baby ~ nice to see that some things never change. xo

  25. Dearest Jackie,
    I always knew you came from somewhere very beautiful! No wonder you are the beautiful love that you are! What a truly unique magical place to come into this world! Thank you so much for sharing with us such a special story~~

  26. wow - what a town. amazing. i loved the history and all the historical pictures. just beautiful.


  27. Oh the memories you bring back ! Mine are not of being born there but spending much time there , Hampstead Heath , where I saw my first Magpies .. I wanted to become a Birder after spending time on the Heath.

  28. wow...I swam in the ponds on Hampstead Heath once...... and once was enough!!!!

  29. Hi Jackie,

    Lucky you to be born in style! It is a beautiful house. Such a pity it no longer exists. I am not too keen on those modern monsters like the one with the sports car in front of it. Love the picturesque houses you show us. Such a beautiful part of Hampstead. Hope I will be able to visit one day. And about the pond......I think I would do the same as you ;-)!

    Happy evening!

    Madelief x

  30. One of my favourite stomping grounds... spent many an afternoon enjoying a pub lunch at the Spaniards Inn and then onto Hampstead High Street for a spot of shopping. I've been away too long (living in Texas) but flying home soon... Thanks for the wonderful blog and glorious reminder of this lovely place. Bestest
    Eliza Interiors & Design

  31. Geez Jac some of those McMansions in Hampstead confirm the observation that having money doesn't automatically give you good taste! Nice to see where you were born, very salubrious mate! Love the Lock Up, would like to build a replica here at The Hedge as a sin bin for a certain MOTH after one of his big nights out with the boys from the Rowing Club!!
    Millie xx

  32. Jackie that is some POSH area. lOVED THIS POST.. yvonne

  33. I am such a fan of grey and white - beautiful blog! I feel as if I've been on a historical tour! Wonderful images of these building in the early 1900's. Wow! Gorgeous homes and I'd love to take a stroll along one of those streets.

    New follower!

  34. What a magnificent place to start your life! I would love to visit Kenwood House and all it's wonderful art. Thank you for taking us on this beautiful tour of your birthplace.

  35. Oh my goodness...what a wonderful spot! Thank you for sharing....hugs for a great weekend.

  36. Hey Jackie, fancy a pint? Or maybe a stroll in and around Kenwood House? You are the dream tour guide! What an utterly charming neighbourhood you live in. You were obviously a charmer from the start judging from that photo.....little did they know what mischief you were capable of:). Meredy xo

  37. Hello dear Jackie, oh I'm overwhelmed from your wonderful guide... Hampstead is definitly on my list, when we visit London next time.
    Thanks for sharing this with us
    Wonderful weekend for you!

  38. What a lovely place to have been born, Jackie. This is one of my favorite posts you have written. Fascinating. Hope your wknd is wonderful! xo

  39. Oh, what a beautiful place!!!! I hope I can travel to London soon!

  40. hi jackie :) i just found your blog. this post is so cool, i enjoyed reading it.
    i just spent three days in london, i came back to germany yesterday. the place you were born is so beautiful and amazing. i really like it & i like your style of writing!
    hugs, svenja

  41. Oh, Jackie - what beautiful photos, old and new! Love your baby photo, such a cute little one! I have yet to explore that area, but after this post, mark my words - I am heading that way! Thanks for the lovely tour! xxoo

  42. Jackie you never cease to amaze... how did I miss all this when I was in London! I so enjoyed your tour maybe someday I can take it in person.
    I so loved England...
    Blessings to you

  43. I think it is fitting that you were born in such a beautiful place :) Gosh you were a darling child!!!!! I could never tire of seeing these amazing places in your beautiful country Jackie. You already know I have a fascination with your country, and this is the very reason why. Awesome beauty and interesting history!
    I think I would feel rather royal being birthed in such a ritzy place. I loved the old photo of The Towers.
    much love...

  44. I don't think anyone has ever been born in a more charming, history rich, interesting, or beautiful place Jackie!! What a way to step into the world!
    You were such an adorable toddler...I love those little roly-poly wrists, and your puffy dress..so cute!
    xo J~

    BTW~ Thank you so much for your kind words...they meant a great deal! ♥

  45. Came over from Yvonne's out of interest(Petite gallery) and found this post interesting. Lived in Hampstead near to the heath 63-65 and have not been back since. Something I keep saying will do one Sunday. Thanks for the reminder.

  46. mmm........beats Warnham maternity home which i believe is now a car park....!!

  47. Stopping by to say hello and give you some blog love. :) Thinking of you.

    1. I found your blog and I liked the content. From today I am a follower of yours, if you want to invite you to visit my blog, if you like it, I would like to have you as a follower on my blog to keep in touch.
      For the translation, I have helped Google Translator
      With warm regards.

  48. I have really delighted to see all these beautiful pictures and I thank all who have made these great efforts.

  49. Hello, I was born in the Towers too February 1950, i have met two other people since that were born there. Stella.Beautiful pictures you have.

  50. What a beautiful place to be born and live....love it.online beds company

  51. I have been trying to find out about The Towers for years! It was on The One Show this evening and it sparked me off to do more searching. The reason is.... I was born there too! People didn't believe me when I said I was born in Gracie Field's house in December 1951 and your blog has made me feel like at last I know where I came from. My parents lived in Hermitage Road in Finsbury Park and mum went to The Towers to have me (she just called it Gracie's home!).

    Its a really strange feeling seeing the pictures of the place I was born, I lived in Hendon for a few years in the 70s and we used to pass Bishops Avenue and although we never went down it, I always wondered which house it was.

    Thank you for sharing the photos and history of the area.

  52. My sister and I were also born in 'The Towers' in 1958 and 1961 respectively. You may have seen the recent One Show about it and this is a link a friend of mine found in the guardian http://www.theguardian.com/business/gallery/2014/jan/31/bishops-avenue-derelict-mansions-in-pictures

  53. Great description. I too was born in The Towers in 1963 as a forced adoption baby.

    I subsequently found my birth mother some 35 years later after my adoption after an 11 year search.

  54. I was also born in The Towers, which was the maternity annexe to the North Middlesex Hospital in Edmonton, north of Tottenham where I was brought up. So, both ends of the social scale there then!