Belsize Place, NW3

Place Name

Derives from the Norman French words bel and assis meaning beautifully situated, and refers to the grounds of a former manor, Belsize House, that was here. It was first recorded in 1316 as Bel-assis, the property of Roger le Brabazon, Chief Justice to Edward II. When he died the following year he left it to the monks of Westminster Abbey, on the condition that they said a mass for himself and the Earl and Countess of Lancaster. In 1360 the name had been transformed into Bellasize, becoming Belsise in 1593. The grounds were converted into pleasure gardens which became a fashionable destination to take tea in the 18thCentury. But they was already much admired the century before. Writing in his diary of 1688, Samuel Pepys visited the property, then in the hands of Lord Wotton, and said of the gardens: “Wonderfull fine: too good for the house the gardens are, being, indeed, the most noble that I ever did saw, and brave orange and lemon trees.” The house was knocked down sometime around 1854 and the foundations and gardens were later developed for housing. It is shown as being laid out as the Belsize Park Estate in maps from 1861.


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