A Slice of Kentish Town

Great London neighbourhoods don’t just appear, they grow. Take Kentish Town: The Maple Building at its heart


Kentish Town art and culture london maple building



Kentish Town has a growing gallery trail. Start at the Zabludowicz Collection on Prince of Wales Road, where cutting-edge art fits well into a grand old neoclassical chapel. Track back to the Beardsmore Gallery, then to contemporary arts organisation Rowing in Leighton Place, photographer Rankin’s Annroy Gallery and – most curious of all – Flaxon Ptootch on Kentish Town Road, which doubles as a hairdresser. There’s excellent theatre at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre and two of London’s most renowned concert venues: the Roundhouse at nearby Chalk Farm Road and the vast art deco Forum in Kentish Town’s heart. Over the years, Kentish Town has been home to a huge number of writers, among them George Orwell and Karl Marx, but for locals the most celebrated is Gillian Tindall, who in 1977 published the definitive Kentish Town book, a deep history entitled The Fields Beneath. After great interest it was reissued in 2010 and now a coffee bar has been named after it.

Kentish Town has a growing gallery trail.

Illustration: The Zabludowicz Collection




The food and drink offering in Kentish Town just keeps on getting better, and the area has become one of London’s most keenly-watched dining destinations. Try Pane Vino’s Sardinian delicacies on Kentish Town Road, and while on the Italian theme, check out Arancini Brothers and Anima e Cuore. Pizza East, Chicken Shop and Dirty Burger offer a triumvirate of smartened-up staples. The Fields Beneath and Two Doors Down are poetically-named coffee shops, and pub-wise Kentish Town is exceptional: the Pineapple, the Camden Town Brewery and the Assembly House are all favourites, while the Bull & Last has been upgraded from rock and roll hangout to fantastic gastropub.

The food and drink offering in Kentish Town just keeps on getting better.

Illustration: Pizza East

maple building camden lock kentish townLANDMARKS


Kentish Town is full of picturesque attractions. Some befit its origins as a transport hub, like the Regent’s Canal, now a place to stroll and relax – particularly at the famous Camden Lock. A favourite walk is to head west along the canal to Regent’s Park, laid out by master architect John Nash in the early 19th century. Not far north from Camden Lock is the Roundhouse, itself an old train-servicing shed and now a legendary arts venue. A few hundred yards further is the Zabludowicz Collection: cutting-edge art and a great café in a fantastic refurbishment of a neoclassical chapel. The nearby Kentish Town City Farm is home to a friendly menagerie that includes horses, cows and extremely talkative ducks. And don’t forget Kentish Town’s quieter corners. Little Green Street, opposite The Maple Building, is one of the prettiest small streets in London, while those in search of verdant solace can walk uphill to Parliament Hill Fields and Hampstead Heath. Further up, towards Highgate, there’s Highgate Cemetery, where all manner of luminaries are interred, from Karl Marx to local authors Douglas Adams and Beryl Bainbridge.

Kentish Town is full of picturesque attractions.

Illustration: Camden Lock

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Kentish Town suits all generations. Hampstead Heath is a great resource for children and grown-ups alike: here, the Parliament Hill Café is the perfect rendezvous, and a dog the ideal accessory. Nearby, the Parliament Hill Lido is a huge art deco pool, beautifully refurbished but unheated, and with a paddling pool for under-5s. Swimmers are well catered for locally: the glorious Victorian baths in Prince of Wales Road reopened in 2010 after a £25 million restoration and if you prefer your swimming wilder, head to the famous Women’s and Men’s Ponds on Hampstead Heath. Kentish Town City Farm (see also Landmarks) can occupy a whole day, and for bigger beasts, head to London Zoo in Regent’s Park. Toddlers will appreciate the Treetops soft play centre at Talacre Community Sports Centre. Owl Bookshop on Kentish Town Road is much-loved and great for browsing, and rewards can be found at Pizza East and Marine Ices on Chalk Farm Road, which has been selling great ice cream (and pizzas) since 1931.

Kentish Town suits all generations.

Illustration: Kentish Town City Farm

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From rock and roll to foodie markets, Kentish Town has it all. There are several celebrated venues within easy reach, ranging from titans such as the Forum and the Roundhouse. Koko and the Electric Ballroom are both located in nearby Camden, while Dingwalls in Camden Lock has been a venue for breaking bands since 1973. For drama, there’s the Lion and Unicorn Theatre and the Etcetera Theatre, while Hampstead Theatre in nearby Swiss Cottage excels in presenting the work of new playwrights. When it comes to shopping, Kentish Town Road has several diversions, including the Owl Bookshop. The Dandy Lion Market is a monthly fixture showcasing independent vintage items and affordable arts and crafts at the Sir Richard Steele pub in Haverstock Hill (check its Facebook page for news) and of course there’s Camden Lock Market, where teenagers disappear for days, leaving parents free to go to the Parliament Hill Farmers Market. Kentish Towners are never bored.

From rock and roll to foodie markets, Kentish Town has it all.

Illustration: The RoundHouse

Maple building kentish town greenspace



It may not reveal itself at first glance but Kentish Town is blessed with great access to green space. To the north lies the extraordinary expanse of Hampstead Heath, ranging from well-tended sports fields to hilly wilderness. At Hampstead Ponds there are three natural swimming pools, and the view from Parliament Hill is one of the best urban vistas in the world. To the south of Kentish Town, the Regent’s Canal brings one to Camley Street Natural Park, which despite its proximity to regenerated King’s Cross station can make the visitor feel as if they’re in the countryside. As well as the Heath, the other great north London lung is Regent’s Park, which has a huge range of environments, from the formal Italian Gardens to a lake with a boating area. At its north lies Primrose Hill, which affords another great view of London. Local parks in Kentish Town include Cantelowes Gardens, which has a children’s playground, tennis courts and a skatepark. Talacre Gardens also has a children’s playground and sports centre.

Kentish Town is blessed with great access to green space.

Illustration: Parliament Hill