In this valuable addition to London's local history, the author of Hampstead Surveyed, Mike Bassett, takes as his starting point the landmark survey of the area undertaken by James Ellis in 1762 and then - unusually - works backwards. The resulting history of Hampstead is a fascinating and comprehensive account of the area's development during the first half of the eighteenth century. Bassett has made extensive use of all the records available to him to look in depth at each of the major areas of Hampstead village and focus on of the key developments that helped to shape the area before it became the leafy London suburb that it is today. An area is, of course, only as vibrant and interesting as its population. Hampstead is no different, and Bassett's history introduces us to a rich cast of local characters - from inventors and impresarios to worm doctors and criminals. Quite apart from its scholarly value, Hampstead Surveyed represents something of a love letter to the area (even if Swift and Voltaire had their reservations). In short, it's indispensable for anyone wanting to know more about the fascinating history of this much loved part of London.
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