We’re standing on Church Row in Hampstead, in north London. Church Row is the oldest street in Hampstead, a longish block of attached townhomes lining both sides of the street from the shopping area to the Parish Church of St. John at Hampstead.
|Portrait of John Keat by William Hilton, National Portrait Gallery, London|
Anita Miller, our guide for this Saturday “Keats Walk,” stops our group of 12 in front of one of the homes in the middle of the block. “This has nothing to do with Keats,” she says, “but notice the windows above each of the doors. Each one is different, because before the era of numbered addresses, that’s how you told people to find your house.”
The houses date from the 1700s, as does the church at the end of the street – 1747, to be exact, although there’s been a church on the property here for more than 1,000 years. It’s the church most associated with John Keats, because it contains a bust of the poet donated by an American admirer in the 1890s. Fanny Brawne, the young woman Keats was engaged to at the time of his death in 1821, was baptized here and attended the church with her family. But Keats, apparently, never set foot inside the building. He was an atheist, after all.
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Photograph: Church Row in Hampstead in north London.