Sunday, November 12, 2006

Primrose Hill - London

Primrose Hill in London, view over Regents Park, London Zoo and the rest of London

This photo from Primrose Hill in London is part of one of the panoramic images found on the Tour of London. There are over 100 images taken from around London linked to an interactive map.

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Primrose Hill is one of the best places to get views over London. Unlike the London Eye, it is free and not time limited. Unlike the London Eye, to benefit from the views you need to climb it! However, the effort is worthwhile, especially at sunset when you can see the lights come on over the City as the sun sets behind the hill.

This view overlooks Regents Park. You can clearly see the Telecom Tower on the skyline and The London Eye. The dome of St. Paul's Cathedral is in the left side, and to the far left are th towers of Canary Warf.

Primrose Hill is found in Camden just north of The Regents Park and London Zoo (free entrance with the London Pass). Like The Regents Park this used to be part of the land appropriated by Henry VIII, but became public land by an Act of Parliament in 1842. The area used to be called Greenberry Hill and one story states that the current name comes from the primroses found on the hill. Until the 17C Primrose Hill was forested and a popular Royal hunting ground. During the reign of Elizabeth I the hill was cleared and turned into grassland. Building on the hill has thankfully been prohibited leaving London with over 100 acres of open land and a 206 foot high viewing point from which you can look over the city.

Primrose Hill became embroiled in a plot to overflow King Charles II in 1687 when the body of a certain Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey was found on it. Godfrey was a well respected London Magistrate called upon at the time to accept on oath documents that reportedly confirmed a plot being devised by Pope Innocent XI with the assistance of the Jesuits to assassinate King Charles II.

Information about the plot became public knowledge and the public began to become uneasy. Godfrey held the evidence that would be used in any trial of the plotters. Shortly after Godfrey turned up dead on Primrose Hill, having bee strangled elsewhere, then run through with his own sword and finally his body dumped on the Hill. He was buried in St. Martin’s Church and 3 people, all protesting their innocence, were executed for his murder (co-incidentally they were called Green Berry and Hill, the former name of Primrose Hill). The events around Primrose Hill at the time greatly inflamed the tension between the Protestants and the Catholics, and another 35 Catholics were executed for their connection with the supposed plot.

Primrose Hill also gave it’s name to a 300 foot long, 2520 ton, 4 masted iron sailing ship built in 1886 which was dashed against cliffs near Holyhead in 1900 during a force 10 storm with the loss of 33 of the 34 people on board.

Today these stories of Primrose Hill is all but forgotten as people relax on the grass slopes and walk dogs in the surrounding fields. The area is now well known for being vastly expensive to live in, and has a row of quaint, and still mostly independent, shops and cafes that line the Regents Road between here and Chalk Farm.

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The full panoramic image taken from the top of Primrose Hill can be found on the London tour by An enlargement of this photo can be found on Flickr.

For more articles on London see the London Index or select one of the labels at the bottom.

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