Despite Sir Thomas's disavowals of plans for the heath itself, a third estate Bill had to be withdrawn in 1843 and a fourth, to permit the sale of all his Hampstead property, was defeated in 1844.
A fifth Bill was defeated in 1853 and a sixth, concerned only with land along Finchley Road, in 1854.
When a seventh Bill was overtaken by the Leases and Sales of Settled Estates Act of 1856, making it easier to change strict settlements, an unprecedented clause was inserted to debar Sir Thomas, as a previous applicant, from taking advantage of the new law.
Further debates followed in 1857, 1859, and 1860, as lawyers' attempts to remove the clause were frustrated by metropolitan M.P.s, whose constituents were making increasing use of The Heath.
When the struggle began there was small likelihood of reaching a fair and logical solution by buying The Heath with public funds.
In 1853, however, the vestry, ahead of its time, resolved that it was in the interests of both the parish and the metropolis that the government should buy the heath 'with such portions of the adjoining ground as are essential to its beauty'.
The proposal was made after public discussion of a plan by C. R. Cockerell to lay out a park on the enlarged heath, which would have come to resemble Regent's Park. Public purchase was urged on both the M.B.W. and the government in 1856 by the reformed vestry, which in 1857 promoted an unsuccessful Bill.
The climate changed in the 1860s, as threats to other open spaces led to the conferment of new powers on the Metropolitan Water Board (M.B.W.) by the Metropolitan Commons Act, 1866.
The Act was a result of pressure by the Commons Preservation Society under George Shaw-
In Hampstead the danger was acute.
Sir Thomas's only obtrusive building had been of the viaduct begun in 1844, which was to bring a road to East Park and which came to be misrepresented as a design against The Heath, although both the viaduct and the intended 28 villas were on his exclusive freehold.
In 1861, however, he threatened to commercialize The Heath, a process which he began by building on the summit and selling the sand along Spaniard's Road.
East Park was also despoiled, by brickfields.
He went on to reject compromise offers not to oppose building on his land along Finchley Road in return for the abandoning of plans for East Park.
In consequence a Hampstead Heath Protection Fund was established under Gurney Hoare, to defray the expenses of a suit which was started against Sir Thomas in Chancery in 1866 and was ended only by his death in 1869.
The ability of his brother and heir Sir John to break the restrictive settlement, which renewed the danger, and the inflamed state of public feeling then compelled the M.B.W. to buy The Heath for a stiff but not extortionate price.
The Hampstead Heath Act, 1871, authorized the M.B.W.'s purchase of nearly all that survived from the original common, (East, North-
A few small additions were soon made, including Judges' Walk, and in 1879 its estimated 240 a. made Hampstead Heath the largest of the M.B.W.'s open spaces after Blackheath.
The Act did not allay all the fears of those who had resisted building, since the right to lay roads across The Heath had been reserved in the sale, which did not include East Park or other adjacent lands.
It would still have been possibly to hem in East Heath with buildings, as shown by the construction of South Hill Park between the lower ponds and Parliament Hill Fields.
Fortunately for preservationists, the Maryon Wilsons concentrated their resources on the area around Fitzjohn's Avenue.
Fortunately for preservationists, the Maryon Wilsons concentrated their resources on the area around Fitzjohn's Avenue.
Meanwhile the Act had secured an inviolable core of open space for public recreation and set a precedent by sanctioning its purchase with public funds.
The story of The Heath after 1871 was one of its expansion and of the changes which were brought about by public ownership.
Expansion was largely in response to the spread of housing north and west of The Heath, where open country survived in the 1880s, and its full value became apparent only as the ring of building was completed in the 20th century.
The first move towards extending The Heath came in 1884 with the establishment of a local society's open spaces committee, with C. E. Maurice as secretary.
Its aim was to acquire East Park, where building was likely to be most obtrusive, and c. 200 acres from the neighbouring southern part of Lord Mansfield's Kenwood estate.
The committee, stressing social and sanitary needs, soon won support from such reformers as Lady Burdett-
A Hampstead Heath Extension committee was then formed, with the Duke of Westminster as chairman; it was ready to pay the market price and, through Shaw-
The Hampstead Heath Enlargement Act,
The M.B.W. adopted the Act shortly before its own extinction in 1889, leaving a monument as important as the Thames Embankment in the form of a Heath doubled in size by the addition of East Park, Parliament Hill and Fields, and part of Lord Mansfield's Elms estate.
The next addition was that of the 36-
Funds were sought in 1897 for the purchase of 20 acres and in 1898 for the whole estate, although it was saved from speculators only when the local historian Thomas Barratt bid beyond the guaranteed total.
Barratt conveyed his contract to the guaranteeing committee, which, strengthened by the duke of Westminster and Shaw-
The property was conveyed in 1898 to trustees appointed by the committee and in
Similar arguments, and a similar mixture of public and private contributions, secured the addition of c. 80 acres in Hendon, adjoining Sandy Heath.
The campaign to buy the land, which was part of Eton college's Wyldes farm, was stimulated by plans for a tube railway under The Heath, with a station at North End and the consequent prospect of building.
Hampstead Heath Extension council was formed in 1903 by Henrietta Barnett, with Shaw-
Although support from the L.C.C. and Hampstead borough council was inadequate, Hampstead bearing a much smaller proportion of the cost than in 1898, the 80 acres were bought in 1907.
The last major additions, on the east side of The Heath, resulted from the break-
The Kenwood Preservation Council in 1922 raised money to buy 100 acres, of which 9 acres east of Millfield Lane were resold to the owners of Caen Wood Towers and Beechwood subject to a ban on building.
Ken Wood itself and the lakes south of the mansion, 32 acres, were also bought, vested in the L.C.C., and in 1925 opened by George V. Kenwood House and 75 acres around it were saved from the builders by the earl of Iveagh (d. 1927), who settled them on himself for life.
He installed art treasures and left the mansion in trust as a picture gallery, which was opened in 1928.
The grounds were left to the L.C.C., as part of The Heath.
Kenwood House was taken over by the L.C.C. in 1949. In 1925 the Paddock, 1¾ acres at North End, was bought from Lord Leverhulme's executors with subscriptions.
Further small but important additions followed the Second World War as a result of bombing, demolitions, or changes of use.
They included the sites of Fern Lodge and Heathlands north of Jack Straw's Castle in 1948 and 1951, the gardens of Pitt House, 3 acres when the Elms became a hospital, the Hill gardens of Heath Lodge, and in 1967 the tollhouse at the Spaniards.
The many changes helped to account for slight variations in the figures given for the acreage.
In 1937 The Heath, including the Extension and Golders Hill Park, was estimated by the L.C.C. at 287.5 acres, Parliament Hill at 270.5 acres, and Kenwood at 195.2 acres, a total of 753.2 acres.
In 1951 The Heath was said to be 290.5 acres and the other two areas were unchanged.
In 1971 the G.L.C.'s estimated total was 802 acres.
The appearance of The Heath continued to cause concern after the possibility of direct private exploitation had been eliminated.
One controversy was about the moorland character of the old Heath, in which it differed from most of London's open spaces and from the additions made after 1871, which were either farmland or parkland.
Another was about the threat from traffic across The Heath and from inappropriate buildings overlooking it.
Neither question was finally laid to rest.
Some landscaping was needed, if only to repair the harm done by digging, which had made much of the ground 'one collection of dangerous and unsightly pits'.
The Times, regretting the M.B.W.'s six-
Philip Le Breton, however, as chairman of the parks committee, favoured the restoration of natural beauty, which also met his colleagues' desire to economize.
By 1875, with the scars of excavation largely grown over, the M.B.W. won praise for a judicious neglect which had not made The Heath 'prim or park-
The L.C.C., warned by Octavia Hill in 1890 against attempted improvements, adopted schemes for tree planting, in 1894, and tidying up, both of which brought petitions signed by distinguished protesters.
Critics were told that the need to provide shelter for visitors must affect views from some houses but were assured that it was desired to preserve the rusticity of West Heath and that gorse cutting was pruning.
The Hampstead Heath Protection society was formed in 1897, with the aim of co-
An action group was formed in 1978 to stir up what had become The Heath and Old Hampstead Protection society, after the G.L.C. in its turn had been accused of wanting to turn the wilder parts into a typical park.
The threat from new roads and obtrusive buildings was lessened by the acquisition of East Park in 1889, which made it possible for access roads reserved in the Act of 1871 to be left as no more than tracks.
The L.C.C. at first hoped to make wider ways, with cinders from the dismantled East Park brickfields, but retreated after protests by Octavia Hill and others.
Sandy Road, skirting West Heath and bisecting Sandy Heath from West End Lane to the Spaniards, was closed to motor traffic in 1924 and thereafter formed two bridle paths.
The main roads across the old Heath, Spaniard's and North End roads, were kept free of public transport services until 1922. A proposal to demolish the tollhouse opposite the Spaniards in 1961 was successfully resisted, partly on the grounds that it would lead to more and faster traffic.
Tall or incongruous buildings overlooking The Heath had caused alarm since William Howitt's attack on the 'Tower of Babel' bulk of the castellated hotel in the Vale of Health.
The flats called The Pryors, in East Heath Road, were similarly criticized in 1903.
The L.C.C.'s London development plan of 1951 would have permitted bigger buildings around The Heath, only to be disallowed by the government, and redevelopment on the bombed site at Heath Brow was averted by its purchase for a car park.
The acquisition of such plots as the Hill gardens brought further protection.
Vigilance was still needed in 1984, however, when fears sprang mainly from plans for houses in the grounds of Witanhurst, on the Highgate side of The Heath.
In the 1960s Hampstead Heath's 'romantic abrupt scenery, a bit like the hilly parts of Shropshire', was thought to give maximum effect in the smallest area.
It continued to be praised in the 1980s for its variety and in particular for its wildness.
Its future management was uncertain, after the abolition of the G.L.C. in 1986.
Proposals for a division between Camden, Barnet, and Haringey L.B.s were unwelcome to local residents and to The Heath and Old Hampstead society, as was management by the City of London to Camden and by Camden to the government.
Other possibilities were for the London Residuary Body, temporarily in charge, to be succeeded by a joint committee from three local authorities, or by a new authority, or a local trust.
It was The City of London Corporation that eventually took over the running of Hampstead Heath.
The management of The Heath is no easy matter; there are diverse sections of the community all focusing on and requiring different criteria.
C.W. (Kit) Ikin, in his "1871/1971 Hampstead Heath Centenary ~ How The Heath was saved for the public", sums these up most admirably:
"The bird watcher wants plenty of trees and bushes, preferably fenced off; the soil enthusiast wants trees to prevent erosion; the wild flower man wants fewer trees; the law-
What is right is probably an amalgam of these views. What is certain is that whenever the GLC fells a tree someone will complain!
My own personal regret is that the Sandy Heath, West Heath and Upper East Heath are no longer moorland, as they were from 1680 to 1890, for woodland can easily be found around London and moorland cannot.
I regret too that country meadows, hedged and with rough grass, are now so rare on The Heath. Many former meadows of this type are now either scrub woodland or open park."