Battery Hill ~
The Battery is that area of open grassland at the junction of The Drive that leads from Spaniards Road, past the upper edge of The Vale Of Health and that path that leads on to the Viaduct Bridge, on the right.
Battery Hill is marked by a large oak on the left of The Battery and a steep slope leading down to paths to the Kenwood Estate and other parts of The Heath.
During the Napoleonic Wars, in about 1798, a LOYAL Hampstead Association was formed and its captain was Josiah Boydell.
"Battery" originates from the area being their training and shooting ground.
The LHA, composed of well respected gentlemen, had a field day in the summer of that year while a shooting contest and dinner took place in The Long Room in Well Walk in 1801.
The Association was disbanded between 1802-
All the later years of Keats's life, until his departure for Rome, were passed at Hampstead, and here all his finest poetry was written.
Leigh Hunt says:—"The poem with which his first volume begins was suggested to him on a delightful summer day, as he stood by the gate which leads from the battery on Hampstead Heath into a field by Caen Wood; and the last poem, the one on 'Sleep and Poetry,' was occasioned by his sleeping in the Vale of Health."
There are, perhaps, few spots in the neighbourhood of Hampstead more likely to have suggested the following lines to the sensitive mind of poor Keats than the high ground overlooking the Vale of Health:—
"To one who has been long in city pent
'Tis very sweet to look into the fair
And open space of heaven—to breathe a prayer
Full in the smile of the blue firmament.
Who is more happy when, with heart's content,
Fatigued he sinks into some pleasant lair
Of wavy grass, and reads a debonair
And gentle tale of love and languishment?
Returning home at evening with an ear
Catching the notes of Philomel—an eyeWatching the sailing cloudlets' bright career,
He mourns that day so soon has glided by,
E'en like the passage of an angel's tear,That falls through the clear ether silently."
No wonder that great painters as well as poets have loved this spot, and made it hallowed ground.
Romney, Morland, Haydon, Constable, Collins, Blake, Linnell, Herbert, and Clarkson Stanfield have all in their turn either lived in Hampstead, or, at the least, frequented it, studying, as artists and poets only can, the glorious "sunset effects" and wondrous contrasts of light and shade.
These can be seen here far better than anywhere else within five miles of St. Paul's or Charing Cross.
Linnell, the painter of the "Eve of the Deluge" and the "Return of Ulysses," made frequently his abode at a cottage beyond the Heath, between North End and the "Spaniards."
To this quiet nook very often resorted, on Sunday afternoons, his friend William Blake, that "dreamer of dreams and seer of visions," and John Varley, artist and astrologer, who were as strange a pair as ever trod this earth.
Goldsmith, who loved to walk here, describes the view from the top of the hill as finer than anything he had seen in his wanderings abroad; and yet he wrote "The Traveller," and had visited the sunny south.