Parliament Hill, London
View of the City of London and surrounding area from Parliament Hill.
|Location||Hampstead Heath, London|
|Area||932 acres (3.77 km2)|
|Operated by||City of London Corporation|
Parliament Hill is an area of open parkland in the south-east corner of Hampstead Heath in north-west London. The hill, which is 98 metres (322 ft) high, is notable for its views of the capital's skyline. Many landmarks can be seen from its summit such as Canary Wharf, the Gherkin, the Shard and St Paul's Cathedral.
The eponymous Houses of Parliament which are 6 1⁄4 miles (10.1 km) south in the City of Westminster can still be seen from Parliament Hill although they have become rather obscured by surrounding buildings.
In 1133, the hill was part of a manor that Henry I gave to a baron called Richard de Balta. During Henry II's reign it was passed to Alexander de Barentyn, the king's butler. The area, which became known as Traitors' Hill, acquired its current name in the 17th century because during the English Civil War it was defended by troops loyal to the English Parliament. A legend states that this was the site from where Guy Fawkes and Robert Catesby planned to watch the destruction of Parliament in the Gunpowder Plot on 5 November 1605.
Over time, plots of land in the manor were sold off for building, particularly in the early 19th century, though the hill remained mainly common land. In 1875 Hampstead Heath was acquired for the people by the Metropolitan Board of Works. Thirteen years later Parliament Hill was purchased for the public for £300,000 and added to Hampstead Heath.
Nevertheless, manorial rights to the land remained in private hands until the mid 20th century when they lapsed under Sir Spencer Pocklington Maryon Wilson, though the titular estate itself was passed on to Shane Gough, 5th Viscount Gough.  Until the 1940s, livestock was still reared on the hill to be sold through Smithfields, the London meat market.
It is administered by the City of London Corporation together with the rest of Hampstead Heath. The Eastern (Highgate) side, including Parliament Hill Lido, is known as Parliament Hill Fields, and a local girls' school, Parliament Hill School, is named after it.
Parliament Hill is renowned as a cross-country running venue and hosted the 2009 English National Championships. It is a popular place that is used by walkers, runners and kite flyers. The 2012 and 2015 English National Cross Country Championships were also staged at Parliament Hill. The Hill is also used by Hampstead Rugby Club. The senior mens and womens teams train both in the middle of the running track and on parts of the hill on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Peter Breen is head coach and is contactable via the HRFC website.
Most saturday mornings around 200 to 300 juniors train and practice in a number of age groups ranging from under 6 to under 18.
Both boys and girls compete at all age groups. During the summer a mixed sexes touch rugby friendly get together takes place on a Wednesday evening.
- Thompson, Hampstead, 130, 165, 195, 317-18, 329- 30; G.L.R.O., E/MW/H, old no. 27/15 (sales parts. 1875).
- Hampstead - Manor and Other Estates | British History Online
- Hampstead Heath
- Hampstead Heath
- BBC website
- A Map of Hampstead Heath showing the location of Parliament Hill
- for Parliament Hill, London