LOVE: Burgh House, Hampstead, NW3

Hampstead’s many historic homes…

…I had to go to Burgh House for a meeting on Friday, and I have to say it’s one of the loveliest spots in Hampstead.

For the first time in ages there was some rare sunshine peeking through the clouds, and it was quiet and peaceful away from the high street, with even a bird or two obligingly tweeting away in the trees. It couldn’t have felt less like being Zone 2 of a major, major city.

So, nestled in amongst some gorgeous houses at the end of Flask Walk, Burgh House looks down over a small but neat garden. Inside the house is a wonderful oak panelled function room, with its own private courtyard (a big attraction for the numerous weddings the house hosts), while throughout the quiet corridors information signs and old photos fill you in on the house’s history. The lovely general manager, Kate Streeter, who lives in the custodian’s flat in Burgh House, took me for scones and tea at their Buttery Cafe, a wonderful little space with seating at the front of the house, where you can soak up the view and the wonderful smell of lilac. The scones, fresh from the oven were warm and crumbly and completely delicious.

She told me about her efforts to modernise some aspects of the house – the Buttery Cafe being one of her projects, creating a comfortable, welcoming space where people can come for a coffee, and then wander round the house if they so choose. Everything is handmade on site, and the local grocers and deli is used for ingredients and supplies as much as possible. In addition, Kate and her team have recently pulled off quite the exhibition coup, with an exclusive Constable exhibition of Hampstead paintings starting in October. 200 Years of Constable in Hampstead  (with paintings on loan from the V&A) tells the story of the life Constable lived here, including at one point in a house opposite Burgh House. It sounds wonderful and I for one can’t wait for it to open.

A perfect spot for a coffee, away from the beaten track, Burgh House is just another reason why living in NW can often feel like being in the middle of the countryside.