Well, well…

Pictured: no. 34, Well Walk (with blue door), the Wells Tavern beyond at no. 30.

From: Penelope Fitzgerald – a Life (2013) by Hermione Lee:

…she was a ‘reading child’ by the time she was five, in 1922, when the family left the country and went back to Hampstead. Evoe was put on the staff of Punch in 1921; commuting to the country had become impossible…

Hampstead was where Penelope Knox grew up

The streets, in her memory, were full not only of poets…but also of lamplighters…muffin men…lavender-sellers…knife grinders and chair menders, pony-carts bringing milk from the dairy farm at Highgate…The Knox house was 34 Well Walk, a small house with a handsome green door, with two rooms on each floor, which Evoe rented for £40 a year – exactly the amount of a legacy he received at this time. Well Walk is a pretty street of Queen Anne houses, dating from when Hampstead was still a spa. The ornate well sits across the road from Number 34. The street runs up to the Heath…

Hampstead was literary, poetic, artistic, rural, part-bohemian, part-genteel…

The hill village, high to the north-west of the city…felt a long way from foggy, polluted London. Evoe went to the Punch office by Underground, but there were special trips to go to a restaurant (there were none in Hampstead then) or to the theatre – Peter Pan for the children at Christmas time…”

From: Edward Walford, ‘Hampstead: The town’, in Old and New London: Volume 5 (London, 1878):

“…At the junction of Heath and High Street is the Fire Brigade Station, an attractive building of coloured bricks, with a lofty watch tower and clock, erected by public subscription in 1870; it commands a view over a large extent of country. Mr. G. Vulliamy was the architect.

On the east slope of the hill, and covering the ground on our left as we descend Heath Street and the High Street, lies that portion of the town which may fairly lay claim to being called “Old Hampstead.” Our approach to this once fashionable quarter is by a narrow passage out of the High Street, which brings us at once to the “Lower Flask Tavern,”…

The “Flask” is a very appropriate, and therefore a very common, sign to mark a house devoted to the service of topers. There was a celebrated “Flask” in Pimlico; and the “Upper” and “Lower Flasks” at Hampstead are historical.

Flask Walk, which runs eastward from the tavern, is a long straggling thoroughfare, in part planted with trees along the edge of the broad pavement. In the triangular space near the end—now a pleasant grass-plat—an annual fair was formerly held. It was noted for its riotous character; conducted as it was much on the same principle as the celebrated “Bartlemy Fair” in Smithfield. An advertisement on the cover of the original edition of the Spectator is as follows:—”This is to give notice, that Hampstead Fair is to be kept upon the Lower Flask Tavern Walk, on Friday, the first of August, and holds (i.e., lasts) for four days.” Formerly the Flask Walk was open to the High Street, and was shaded throughout with fine trees; many of these, however, are now gone, and small houses have taken their place. In Flask Walk were formerly the parish stocks…

One of the chief sources of the Fleet, as we have already stated, was in Hampstead; it rose in a spring nearly under the walls of Gardnor House, at the east end of Flask Walk, and within a hundred yards westward of the old Wells. At the junction of Flask Walk and Well Walk, and nearly opposite the “Wells Tavern,” are the Middlesex Militia Barracks, a spacious brick building, partly formed out of an old mansion, called Burgh House, two projecting wings having been added. The barracks was built in 1863, from the designs of Mr. Henry Pownall.

In a house at the corner of Flask Row, opposite to the Militia Barracks, the mother of the poet Tennyson spent the last years of her life; and here she died about the year 1861. It is almost needless to add that up to that date Alfred Tennyson was a constant visitor at Hampstead, and was frequently to be seen strolling on the Heath wrapped up in thought, though he mixed little with Hampstead society. Mrs. Tennyson lies buried in Highgate Cemetery.

Close by this spot, on the sloping ground leading up to Squire’s Mount, is one of the many religious edifices of the town, Christ Church, a large Perpendicular building, with a lofty spire, which serves as a landmark for miles around; this church was built in 1852. In the same neighbourhood is the new workhouse, a large and well-built structure of brick and stone, together with the other parochial offices.

Both Flask Walk and Well Walk have an air of fading gentility about them, and, like many of the other streets and lanes in the village, they are planted with rows of shady limes or elms, which every year, however, are becoming fewer and fewer.

Well Walk (which connects Flask Walk with the lower portion of East Heath) and the *”Wells Tavern” still serve to keep in remembrance the famous “wells,” which commanded an open view across the green fields towards Highgate…”

*Fay Maschler, in 2017: “I would go to The Wells in Hampstead even if it wasn’t owned by my sister Beth Coventry. She has solved The Hampstead Conundrum, which is why in an area full of people equipped and anxious to eat out isn’t there an excellent restaurant?”

Or walk on for four minutes to find a welcome at The Flask…

From Wikipedia:

The Flask is a Grade II listed public house at 14 Flask Walk, Hampstead, London, on the site from where the trade in Hampstead mineral water was run, and which is mentioned in the eighteenth century novel Clarissa. It has been owned by Young’s Brewery since 1904. It was originally known as the Lower Flask, to distinguish it from the Upper Flask, a tavern near the top of Hampstead hill which was patronised by Whig grandees and writers but which closed in the 1750s. The clientele of the Lower Flask was considered inferior; and it appears in Samuel Richardson’s novel Clarissa as the place of a drunk…”

Under the Licensing Act 2003 and the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005, there is only one type of premises licence, though the conditions placed on each one will determine whether on sales or off sales (or both) are permitted.

The premises licence is granted to a person, and not to the establishment. Before the Licensing Act 2003 came into effect, there was a legal requirement to display the name of the licensee above the entrance to an on-licence location. The sign would typically say “NAME OF LANDLORD licensed for the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises”. Under the 2003 Act, that requirement has been repealed (though such signs are still often seen). Instead, the premises licence holder must ensure that the official summary of the licence (or a certified copy) is prominently displayed at the premises, as well as the name and position of any person nominated as the custodian of the summary premises licence.”

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