"Hurrah for Bank Holiday"
A Fascinating glimpse into Hampstead Heath's past, collated by the author, from
an original article by Lieut-
For the churlish people who pretend not to enjoy Bank Holidays!
When the days are long and the sun is bright and London goes junketing for a whole long day, there is an immense amount of pleasure to be obtained by watching one's fellow men and fellow women at play, and he must be a poor curmudgeon who is not glad that the lads and lasses still sing when they are light hearted and dance when they feel feather-
Let us up very early and watch the gathering of the cockney force on Hampstead Heath, the great playground of the north of London.
We arrive at our destination. Northward lies the real country, green fields and tall trees and hedgerows of dog-
Mark the early comers, all of whom have something to sell or to hire to the holiday makers. That horsey-
They are well fed, however, as their owner will tell you "Each one of them 'osses eats more oats than a nobleman's 'unter" is his way of putting it, for they have a long and hard day's work before them trotting and cantering over the heath.
There like a flock of sheep come trotting up a clump of donkeys, the donkey boys, some in the saddle, some running behind, as though they expected not to have enough exercise during the day. Here is a flower-
Now appear the men, Italian mostly, with ice-
The old blind beggar with a tangled beard and his dog, which holds the handle of a little bag in his mouth, are earlier arrivals than we are, and are already established by the way-
The holiday makers begin to arrive. First a father, a clerk in some office to judge from the well-
Now the lads and lasses come in couples and groups. Some of them are already in high spirits and more than one has already bought a paper feather to decorate his or her hat. Before the day is out there will be an interchange of headgear and Tom will, at nightfall, go down Fitzjohn's Avenue with Harriet's plumed trophy on his head singing some music-
The sun is halfway up the heavens by now and if we are to do our round of suburban gaiety in a day we must be off and away
Shall we fly east or west?
Yonder shiver as of diamonds away there to the North-
There, beyond the palace, almost on the horizon, like a shadow on the sea of fields and bricks and mortar, is Epping Forest.
Were we to fly there we should find the girls from the match manufacturers, and from the great feather houses of the East-
Let us, howevever, forego the delights of the Muswell slopes and the Epping glades, and turn the prow of our airship eastwards.
That forked piece of water shining yonder is the Brent Reservoir, and that group of houses on its bank is the Welsh Harp, which Chevalier tells us in song is " 'Endon wai."
There, in its grounds, are all manner of delights, swings and roundabouts, and arbours for drinking of the tea, and there are boats of all kinds on the lake from the great pinnace which we hold an excursion party to the little canoe which scarcely contains a full-
Here comes a couple of costers, each with his lady by his side, racing in their donkey-
Now a sporting publican with a bit of blood between the shafts of his high dog-
As we fly high in the air we can see the school children trooping into the long refreshment sheds in Wembley Park where the stump of the great tower, which was to rival the Eiffel pinnacle in Paris, is a majestic structure though it is unfinished.
Southward we turn and the Thames flashes into view as a long waving ribbon. Due east the dot of white on a field of green is a windmill on Wimbledon Common.
We are in picnic land and we can take our choice whether we will eat our lunch amidst the fern, or by a lake side, or under the shade of the great trees.
Before we turn the prow of our good ship eastward and southward we must spend some portion of the early afternoon in the beautiful gardens of Hampton Court Palace, and wander through the rooms of the stately old house looking at the pictures.
The coach horns ring out before we fly onwards for we are on one of the great coaching roads now, and at the Mitre and the Greyhound the teams are being changed. Note how the touch of scarlet mixes here and there with the pepper and salt, pinks and blues, and greys of the holiday crowd. Cavalry are quartered at Hampton Court; there is the glint of steel and brass, and the trumpet call throws in its deep notes sometimes, calling to stables, while the guards on the coaches shrill out "Who'll buy a broom?"
Look due east and over the miles of streets of small houses, and the maze of railwaylines rise two glittering towers, slim as the minarets of a mosque, and between them lies a long roof of glass, twinkling in the hot rays of the afternoon sun.
It is the Crystal Palace, which with its vast grounds, and its scores of amusements under its great transparent curve, is now the especial playground of Southern London.
Here we see the people in their thousands, of all ages and all classes. There a band of boys and girls from a great pottery factory are forming a circle to play "kiss in the ring"; there the members of a workman's club with their wives, prosperous ladies with long gold earrings and cameo brooches, and their offspring, mostly munching buns of which each has a bag-
It is a crowd that defies classification for in it are all the men of the old nursery rhyme, tinker, soldier, sailor, 'pothecary, ploughboy -