Author Archives: BRA Admin

November/December 2020 – Diary Dates

Belsize Community Library

Friends of BCL

Burgh House
Continues until Saturday, 7th March: A Nest of Gentle Artists.  Exhibition draws together works by Hampstead’s Randolphe Schwabe, his students and contemporaries, from the early 20th century. Art Gallery, free entry.
Online exhibition: The Prospect of Happiness, Liz Matthews. Drawing together portraits of some beloved London houses and views. See here
Online exhibition: Artists who love trees. Robert Eagle Fine Art. Art from a diverse group of contemporary artists, taking inspiration from trees. See here

Camden Arts Centre
Beyond The Visible, directed by Halina Dyrschka, is a film about Hilma af Klint’s life and work, it chronicles her pioneering artistic practice and mystical view of the world, from the beginning of her career at Stockholm’s Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts. Find out more and watch here. Continues until 23rd December.
Exhibition “The Botanical Mind: Art, Mysticism and the Cosmic Tree”. 
Humanity’s place in the natural order is under scrutiny as never before, held in a precarious balance between visible and invisible forces: from the microscopic threat of a virus to the monumental power of climate change. 24.09.20. – 28.02.21. For details go here.

Isokon Gallery (Please check here prior to visiting)
The 2020 Exhibition:  Jacques Groag, architect and furniture designer, and Jacqueline Groag, textile and pattern designer, were two celebrated residents of the Isokon in the 1940s and early 1950s, yet due to split residence between three countries, which often did not communicate with each other in the 20th century, the tremendous scope of work of these second-wave Viennese Modernists has only recently become known. Learn more here

Keats House (Please read visit guidelines here)
is open for one hour visits at 11.00, 12.15. 14.15. and 15.30 on specific days only. These may be prebooked on Eventbrite.

Belsize Society Newsletter: November 2020

Welcome to the November BelSoc Newsletter.

As we enter a second lockdown, the Newsletter has a focus on strolls around the Belsize areawith a walk that takes you to Hampstead and back. There is also a piece looking at the trees listed in Camden’s open data.

We are hosting the Camden Air Quality team via zoom November 25, a first event for quite a while for the Society. The Newsletter introduces this session and gives joining details.

The lockdown means that a few of the activities we were hoping would continue after the summer – such as the popular streatery in Belsize village and the re-opening of Hampstead Theatre – have had to be paused. But each are ready if the lockdown ends in December as planned.

This issue comes to you with a letter about renewing your membership. We hope you continue to support us as we continue to develop our charitable activities – consider using gift aid when making payments to us.

Hope you enjoy this Newsletter.



Abacus Belsize Primary School Online Auction

We have been asked on behalf of Abacus Belsize Primary School to let you know about their annual online auction. Local businesses big and small, as well as members of the Abacus community have very kindly donated goods, services and unique experiences for anyone to bid on. Any funds raised  in the online auction will go towards the Shakespeare drama project at school in spring 2021, which all year groups take part in.

The auction will run between 23 November and 6 December:

Looking at Camden’s tree register

We know we live in a leafy part of the city, with Primrose Hill and the Heath attracting countless Londoners to relax attracted by these green spaces. However, a recent research project has placed Camden in the top 20 places in England and Wales with the most tree cover. Gardens, tree-lined streets as well as the parks, place our Borough ahead of rural areas, which the study finds have the least tree coverage, including parts of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales.

The mapping experts – the credit for study goes to ESRI and Bluesky – use aerial images to detect trees, finding around 400 million in England and Wales. They report that almost a third of Camden is covered in trees, with the northern portion of Hampstead Heath being the most verdant and the Kings Cross areas and the Borough south of Euston Road being least. Belsize is a sea of green with the roads being discernible.

Looking at trees from above provides a valuable story about the nation’s greenery but for many of us the pleasure is through walking around our area and seeing trees in their setting or enjoying relaxing in the open spaces. The Council has released data about our trees, very much at ground level. Its list of Council-managed trees, mapped at the site, corroborates the results of the study, listing over twenty thousand trees in the Borough. This total excludes those on the Health and in the Royal Parks.

In Belsize ward, there are 686 trees listed, of which 375 are mature, 157 are middle-aged and 142 are juveniles. In the Fitzjohn’s and Frognal ward, there are 1,320 trees, of which 564 are mature, 492 middle-aged and 223 juvenile. The lists locate each tree both in terms of the street or park and the exact geolocation. The height and spread of the trees is noted.

Also, the list highlights the importance of environmental impacts, recording the carbon stored in each tree and the amount of carbon and pollution captured each year. A copper beech tree in St John’s cemetery (which you may see on the walk described in this Newsletter) stores the most carbon (6 tonnes) across the two wards of Fitzjohn’s and Frognal and Belsize; the London planes on Belsize Avenue are storing slightly less but head the list for that ward. The plane trees lining Eton Avenue, Fitzjohn’s Avenue as well as Belsize Avenue are important in removing pollution with the data indicating each tree – and there are over a hundred in the area – removes around a kilogram of pollution each year.

In our Newsletter article in May, we highlighted some of the notable trees of the area. These are documented in Camden’s list, allowing you to locate both the mature examples recommended in the Newsletter and to see the newer plantings. Further, that article indicated some website applications available to guide you around Belsize and see some of our best trees (you can put your postcode into the website which will design a walk for you).

Trees in Primrose Gardens

Originally, Stanley Gardens was named after a Dean of Westminster of that name, the Deans being landowners here. At one time, it was used by Hampstead Cricket Club. The houses of Stanley Gardens were built in the 1880s.

The garden was acquired by Hampstead Borough Council in 1920, the name changing to Primrose Gardens in 1939. The garden consists of two railed enclosures with grass and trees with a small central paved seating area between. All the trees in the garden are documented in the council’s list. A pair of beech trees (Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea’) are central to the garden, their leaves colouring well through the winter. Three birch trees (Betula pubescens) are also in the garden, in their yellow autumn colour.

Mapping Primrose Gardens’ trees

Facts from the tree register

  • The tallest tree in Belsize is in the Adelaide Road Nature Reserve, a small leaved lime tree (Tilia cordata) rising to 45m, lat-long (51.543707, -0.160565)
  • A London plane tree (Platanus x hispanica) in Belsize Avenue has the largest diameter at 1.33m, lat-long (51.549665, -0.169023)
  • But a London plane tree in Eton Avenue captures the most pollution each year, removing 1,300 grams, lat-long (51.543865, -0.17458)
  • The trees in Belsize ward are diverse: there are 61 varieties amongst the 375 mature trees
  • The newest plantings – juveniles – have maintained that diversity with 60 varieties in 142 trees in Belsize ward.

Local News: November 2020

Hampstead Theatre will lift our spirits with Pinter

If you are by now yearning for the theatre, then you will be interested in the Hampstead Theatre’s production of Harold Pinter’s “Dumb Waitor”.  Directed by Alice Hamilton, it is now due to run from 3 December to 16 January. The play received its premier as part of Hampstead Theatre’s first ever season in 1960. It returns for its 60th Anniversary Production.  Reviewing the 1960 production, the Sunday Times wrote:  ‘If the Hampstead Theatre Club keeps to this standard, it not only deserves success it will command it’.  That has certainly come true.

Belsize Community Library

Due to the new lockdown rules, Belsize Community Library is closed to the public this November but as part of their BCL Recommends Series, they will be offering a community book-lending scheme.

To participate you will need your library card, (to get a card, use this form) then either email or phone 020 7586 6746 on Mondays between 11.00 and 17.00, saying what types and how many books you would like.  Allow one hour for the library team to pick your books then collect them from the library entrance during the hours above, making sure you wear a mask and observe all social distancing guidelines.

The Belsize Village Streatery 

Many members will have taken advantage of the outdoor eating facilities in Belsize Village over the summer months. The Streatery has had its licence renewed until 1 January 2021. Let’s hope that they will be able to use it. The licence includes permission for environmentally-friendly electric heaters to be installed, which may encourage people to continue dining outdoors over the winter period.

Access to Council Libraries during Lockdown

Camden Council writes:

  • Swiss Cottage Library: this library will close on Thursday 5 November and reopen on Monday 9 November for “request and read”. Collections will be from the foyer.
  • Camden Local Studies and Archive Centre: the centre will be closed to customers but resources can be accessed online:
  • Home Library Service: we will continue to deliver to housebound customers. If you, or someone you know, can’t get out and about, you may be eligible for the free home library service. Every four weeks, we will bring reading, music and films to your home. Email

BelSoc Matters


BelSoc membership subscriptions for 2021 are due on 1 January 2021.  We hope you will all wish to renew your membership as we are dependant on subscriptions for our work.  We do not send out invoices but enclosed with this Newsletter you will find a letter addressed to you personally with details of what to do.  Please read it and take action before 1 January.
Remember all the benefits of the membership, such as the ‘Tradesmen You Can Trust’ booklet and the chance to be involved with local issues. Also, if you are able, please use gift aid when making membership payments.

BelSoc Trustee Reporting Requirements

As members will know, Trustees of charities are obliged under charity law to comply with the reporting requirements set by the Charity Commission. For a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) like BelSoc, this means submitting an annual Trustee report on the charity’s activities and a statement of accounts. Trustees have ten months following the end of the reporting period to do this.

Our first Trustee report and financial return can therefore now be found as a download on the Charity Commission’s website. BelSoc was registered as a charity on 26 November 2018, so the report and return cover the period from that date to 31 December 2019. Hereafter our reports will cover the calendar year.

As BelSoc’s annual income is less than £25,000 there is no legal requirement to have our accounts independently examined. However, as you may recall, the end of year statement of accounts that we present to members at the AGM has for a number of years been examined independently, and in preparing our financial return for the Commission we have followed the same practice. An Independent Examiner’s report to Trustees is therefore included among the documents. We are most grateful (as ever!) to Jill Tyrrell for agreeing to undertake this.

Walking in Lockdown

Belsize Square to St John-at-Hampstead circular walk

Route: Start in Belsize Square; walk via Belsize Crescent onto Fitzjohn’s Avenue and then to Church Row. Visit the Churchyard of St John-at-Hampstead and the Additional Burial Ground. Walk down Frognal back into Belsize Park. Keep a lookout for the following features.

Trees in Belsize Square

Autumn in Belsize gives us the opportunity to look at the changing trees. In Belsize Square, there are two juvenile Malus Rudolph trees (Crab Apples) which currently display yellowing leaves and red fruit which are easily seen from the pavement. You may have spotted their beautiful pink flowers in spring. They are deciduous and part of the Rosaceae family. You will also see juvenile Sweet Gum trees (Liquidambar Styraciflua; family: Hamamelidaceae) with stunning maple-like leaves in different shades of red. They too are deciduous.

A walk up the hill

Now walk through the Village (noting the Ginkgo tree). Stretch your legs by walking uphill via Belsize Crescent and Akenside Road onto Fitzjohn’s Avenue and to Church Row Hampstead. Go into the Churchyard.

Malus Rudolph


Liquidambar Styraciflua

St John-at-Hampstead Churchyard

Follow the path around the Church to the memorial to John “Longitude” Harrison (1693-1776). The fascinating text on the memorial says that, as a young man, Harrison learned to clean and repair clocks and made a few clocks from wood. He went on to become the inventor of the Gridiron Pendulum and discovered a method for preventing the effect of temperature on clocks by using two bars of different metals fixed together. He introduced the secondary spring to keep clocks going while winding up. In 1735, his “first Time keeper” was sent to Lisbon. In 1764 his “much Improved fourth Time keeper” having been sent to Barbados, the Commissioners of Longitude “certified that it had determined the Longitude within one Third of Half a Degree of a great Circle, having erred not more than 40 Seconds in Time”. In March 2006, HRH Philip, Duke of Edinburgh unveiled a memorial stone for Harrison in Westminster Abbey. This is located near the graves of George Graham and Thomas Tompion, famous clockmakers, in the centre part of the nave.

You can also take the opportunity to see the gravestone of artist John Constable and his family, which is lower down the Churchyard.

Additional Burial Ground

Cross over to the Additional Burial Ground and walk uphill to the back corner. Here you will see a memorial to local artist Randolph Schwabe (1885-1948) who was Slade Professor of Fine Art at University College London from 1930. When the lockdown ends, you can learn more about Schwabe by visiting Burgh House whose exhibition “A Nest of Gentle Artists. Randolph Schwabe and his Hampstead Contemporaries” will run until 7 March 2021. See the back page of this Newsletter for details.

The memorial to Schwabe, which covers his ashes, is a statue of an angel by the sculptor Alan Durst (1883-1970). A member of the London Group of Artists, Durst contributed work to (among other places) cathedrals around the United Kingdom.

A wooden columbarium

Near the statue is the grade 2 listed columbarium, which was built of wood in 1940 to cater for the new demand for memorial tablets. There are very many tablets attached to the wood, of different styles and from different decades. You can read about the columbarium on the nearby metal plaque.

Walking down Frognal

Walk back to Belsize Park by dropping downhill on Frognal. Among the plaques to famous residents is one erected in memory of illustrator Kate Greenaway at 39 Frognal. The artist died here in 1901. The house was designed for her by architect Norman Shaw. English Heritage describes the house as an asymmetrical, tile-hung, gabled design reflecting the popular Arts and Crafts movement of the time.  English Heritage’s website also tells the following story: “While living and working there, Greenaway was often visited by the artist John Ruskin, whom she had become close friends with. They had been introduced in 1880 and Ruskin had swiftly adopted Greenaway as one of his circle of female art protégées. Their correspondence continued for some 20 years, though much of it was left up to Greenaway. Ruskin even refused to write the address ‘Frognal’, remarking – ‘It might as well be Dognal-Hognal-Lognal – I won’t’ – and Greenaway was forced to keep him supplied with envelopes she addressed to herself for their correspondence” (see

A Prime Minister and the founder of psychoanalysis

From Frognal, cut back to the centre of Belsize Park via Maresfield Gardens, looking out for the plaque where Herbert Asquith lived at No 27 and plaques commemorating Sigmund and his daughter Anna at the Freuds’ home at No 20. The Freud Museum which now occupies the house is currently closed due to the lockdown, but you can keep an eye on to find out about future opening plans. The statue of Sigmund Freud at the end of Belsize Lane is a further reminder of the refugees who settled in the area after fleeing Nazi Germany, and of the long association of Belsize Park and Swiss Cottage with psychoanalysis. Walk back into the Village and then to St Peter’s Church in Belsize Square to complete the circle.

HS2: More Adelaide Road works

Update 29.10.20.: HS2 will be carrying out further drainage surveys from 9-12th November and from mid November for up to six weeks, will start to remove further vegetation and trees within their site boundary. Here is the notification or visit HS2incCamden
Traffic management on Adelaide Road will now continue until late November, with no access between Adelaide Road and Eton Road from 2 November. Overnight utilities surveys will take place on 2 and 3 November.
Please see details, including maps, as attached here or visit for more information.

Camden Friends of the Earth – Energy Cafes

Camden Friends of the Earth are co-hosting virtual Energy Cafe chats in collaborations with Power Up North London, Transition Kentish Town and Camden Council.
Their goal is to help those whose energy costs have become too high and are struggling to understand the cheaper options out there as well as helping homeowners who are looking to retrofit and highlighting the Government’s Green Homes Grant which Camden Council has said it will match for residents who apply, all of which fall squarely within their plans for a green and fair recovery.
The first Energy Cafes will be held via zoom on Tuesday 10th and Tuesday 24th November. To attend, register on Eventbrite; search for Camden Energy Cafe.
It is also possible to join a webinar directed at homeowners aiming to retrofit; you may register here.