Belsize Park is an area of north-west London, England, in the London Borough of Camden. It gives its name to a ward of the borough, called Belsize, which covers most of Belsize Park; the rest of Belsize Park is part of Hampstead Town.
It is located 3.4 miles (5.5 km) north-west of Charing Cross and has a station on the Northern line. Some nearby localities are Hampstead to the north and west, Kentish Town and Gospel Oak to the east, Camden Town to the south east and Primrose Hill to the south. It is a lively area with many restaurants, pubs and cafés along Haverstock Hill and also England's Lane. Hampstead Heath is a 10- to 12-minute walk. Primrose Hill park is a 5-minute walk from England's Lane and provides some of the best views of Central London.
The name is derived from French bel assis meaning 'well situated'. The Manor of Belsize dates back to 1317.
Although not named on the Geographers' London Atlas, the area has many thoroughfares bearing its name: Belsize Avenue, Belsize Court, Belsize Crescent, Belsize Gardens, Belsize Grove, Belsize Lane, Belsize Mews, Belsize Park (the road), Belsize Park Gardens, Belsize Place, Belsize Square, and Belsize Terrace. The name comes from the 17th-century manor house and parkland (built by Daniel O'Neill for his wife, the Countess of Chesterfield) which once stood on the site. The estate built up between 1852 and 1878, by which time it extended to Haverstock Hill. After World War I, the construction of blocks of flats began, and now a great many of the larger houses are also converted into flats.
In World War II, a large underground air-raid shelter was built here and its entrance can still be seen near the tube station at Downside Crescent. The area on Haverstock Hill north of Belsize Park underground station up to Hampstead Town Hall and including part of a primary school near the Royal Free Hospital was heavily bombed. When the area was rebuilt, the opportunity was taken to widen the pavement and build further back from the road.
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The nearest stations are:
- Belsize Park tube station (Northern line)
- Chalk Farm tube station (Northern line)
- Swiss Cottage tube station (Jubilee line)
- Hampstead Heath (London Overground)
The lyrics of the international chart hit "Kayleigh" by rock band Marillion in 1985 include the line "loving on the floor in Belsize Park". It is also in the short film "Les Bicyclettes de Belsize" (although mainly filmed in Hampstead Village), of which the title song was covered by Mireille Mathieu, Engelbert Humperdinck, and others. Belsize Park is also referenced on Sleeper's 1995 debut album "Smart" in the song "Lady Love Your Countryside" with the lyrics "And we could spend our lives puking in Belsize Park". The Camden Town Group artist Robert Polhill Bevan and his wife Stanislawa de Karlowska lived at 14 Adamson Road from 1900 to 1925. Kirsty MacColl's song "England 2 Columbia 0" features the line, "we went to a pub in Belsize Park and cheered on England as the skies grew dark..." It is also the place of residence for the Jewish community targeted by Hitler during the Second World War in the novel The Morning Gift. Novelist Peter Straub entitled his 1983 poetry collection "Leeson Square and Belsize Park" in part after his time in residence in the Belsize Park region of London. Belsize Park and the surrounding quarters were the setting for a long-running radio drama, Waggoner's Walk. This daily serial ran from April 1969 to May 1980 each weekday on Radio 2. Belsize Park is mentioned in the Hitchcock thriller, Dial M for Murder (1954) by the lead character Tony Wallace (played by Ray Milland when coercing his accomplice, C.A. Swann into murdering his wife. Belsize Village was recently (2014) the setting for a Direct Line Insurance advert featuring Harvey Keitel.
There are records of a Belsize Park Rugby Club in North-West London since the 1860s. In 1871, Belsize was one of the clubs at the inaugural meeting of the Rugby Football Union, and therefore pioneers of the game of Rugby Union. In 1878, Belsize moved to form Rosslyn Park RFC, becoming one of England's leading clubs. In 1971, Belsize Park RFC was re-established by a group of local players. The club is now one of the most central of all London Rugby Clubs, playing and training in Regent's Park. There are five regular teams playing every Saturday during the season as well as a Touch Rugby squad in the summer time.
- Belsize Walk Archived 9 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine., London Borough of Camden, page 4. Retrieved 2009-06-13
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