I have lived within walking distance of Hampstead Heath for most of my adult life and although I walk there regularly I am still discovering parts I have never seen before. Recently I discovered 'Pitt's Secret Garden'.
The garden was originally attached to a large house, North End Place (owned by ambitious businessman and would-be politician Charles Dingley) which although now long since demolished was where in 1767 the then English Prime Minister, William Pitt, the elder, sought refuge during one of his regular bouts of depression and gout. Story has it his desire for solitude while at the house was so complete, that he asked for his meals to be passed through a service hatch so he could remain on his own. Some also insist his detachment from public life and lack of decisive leadership at such a critical time was a major contributory factor in the muddled events that culminated in the American revolution in 1775. In fact, some years later in 1908, the Illustrated London News ran a picture story of the house and garden mischievously entitled 'The House in which Britain lost America.'
You can still walk through the garden, even if it is now overgrown and full of brambles. All that remains of the garden structure is a length of wall down by the dirt road, a few steps up the bank and this majestic lone and increasingly gothic archway threatened with collapse by the root structures of a huge beech tree.