One thing I love about living in Hampstead you will never run out of bits to explore, I was out for a socially distanced walk this morning when I happened to stumble on this incredible house.. (3 years in the neighbourhood and I didn't even know the damn thing existed!)
As you can imagine it has a rather interesting history... first and foremost it was the inspiration for the character of 'Admiral boom' in Mary Poppins (The author P.L Travers was living in the neighbourhood at the time.)
It also features in a painting by the artist Constable entitled 'A romantic house at Hampstead'.
The house was originally built as a masonic lodge and named 'The Golden Spikes' (The conspiracy theorists amongst you will no doubt be able to tell me the significance!)
In 1755 it was brought by a retired naval Captain named Fountain North who added the ship like elements as he was missing his life at sea.
Around this time it became known locally as the Admirals house as it was mistakenly believed to have been the home of Admiral Barton: An 18th century admiral who became something of celebrity after his ship was captured and he and his crew were held hostage by the king of Morocco for several months. (He did in fact retire to Hampstead after he was released where his eccentric behaviour became the stuff of local legend - apparently he kept a cannon on the roof of his house and would fire it in the air to mark important occasions -as you do!)
Other notable owners have included: Victorian architect George Gilbert Scott, known for his work on Westminster Abbey and the Gothic style Renaissance Hotel at St Pancras station.
writer John Galsworthy author of the 'Forsythe Saga' and winner of the Nobel prize for literature in 1932
writers John and Winifred Fortesque: Winifred was a novelist (best known for her 1930's bestseller 'Perfume from Provence') and John was a military historian.
It is also worth noting that the there is rumoured to be a tunnel in the gardens that connects the house to nearby Hampstead heath (possibly built during the house's early days as Masonic lodge presumably for some weird and wonderful Masonic carry on!)
Interesting bits of London history and news of our tours and events