Almost hidden from view

A GAP BETWEEN the houses almost opposite the long-established La Gaffe restaurant (opened in 1962) on Hampstead’s Heath Street leads into an alley lined on one side of a wall covered with overlapping planks of timber, i.e., clapboard. Steps lead down from the alleyway to a small sunken paved square surrounded by houses, some of which are 18th century.  This almost hidden nook is called Stamford Close. The name derives from the now-demolished Stamford Lodge, where John Constable and his family were briefly lodgers in 1823 after they had left their rented accommodation on Hampstead’s Lower Terrace, where they lived between 1821 and 1823.

According to Christopher Wade, in the 1930s, six old cottages were condemned and the close was considered to have been:

“…a miserable dark square – a black spot.”

Today, the square is far from miserable, and many would kill to own a house there. I am not sure how practical this would be as far as shifting heavy shopping and luggage is concerned. Also, parking cars is not possible close to the houses. Despite these disadvantages, this square would be a lovely place to live.

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