Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Much appreciated by connoisseurs (but perhaps not as widely known as they should be) are the ‘heritage walks’ that have featured annually in Proms at St Jude’s since 2003. Led by experts, they include walks around different parts of Hampstead Garden Suburb and illustrate the history and architecture of the Suburb and its wide influence (not only in this country) on town planning and domestic architectural design. At the time of the Suburb’s golden jubilee in 1957, German-born architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner confidently predicted it would be seen as ‘the most nearly perfect example of that English invention and speciality, the garden suburb.’
Other walks show how the Suburb’s founder Dame Henrietta Barnett and her associates, anticipating the impact of the extension of the Hampstead Tube to Golders Green in 1907, successfully forestalled mediocre speculative housing development by acquiring areas of farmland for use as public open space (the Hampstead Heath Extension) and as the site for the new Garden Suburb, built to a master plan by Sir Raymond Unwin.
Some walks take place further afield, exploring the pioneering work of Henrietta Barnett and her husband Canon Samuel Barnett in London’s East End, particularly the founding in 1884 of Toynbee Hall (the main beneficiary of funds raised by the festival).
From its modest beginnings in 2003, with just two walks around the Suburb, the programme has grown steadily. This year there will be six contrasting walks, led by experts from the HGS Trust, the Hampstead Heath Superintendent’s team, or accredited City of London or Blue Badge guides. Full details can be found in the widely distributed festival brochure or on the Proms website. Tickets cost £7.50 per person; advance booking is recommended, as numbers are limited. 
Go to or phone 020 3322 8123 on weekday afternoons from 5 June.
Thomas Radice