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Any parts of London that have a “village” feel?

I am heading to London with my child, but after exploring countless streets using google maps streetview to scope out a flat to rent, I’m wondering if there are any sections of London that (even if for a block or two) give one the sense they’ve been magically transported from a big city into an English village?

My kid isn’t quite old enough to spend hours on end in museums, so I’d like to take him to some fun, visually engaging parts of London, particularly because on this trip we won’t have time to leave London and visit a proper English village. I have been to London a few times before so I’ve already enjoyed most of the major tourist stops.

Bonus question: does anyone know of any London parks - big or small - with especially cool/unique playground equipment for kids?

Posted by
363 posts

For anything resembling a village you will have to get out of central London but there are options. Wimbledon village could be combined with a visit to the tennis museum (there's even a windmill, on Wimbledon Common), BlCkheath could be combined with a trip to Greenwich. Go to Hampton Court and extend into East Mosley.
Check out Battersea Park for children's palygrounds, there's a High Ropes course (chargeable) in addition to the free attractions.

Posted by
5817 posts

Hampstead has a small town feel and the advantage of the Heath to explore.
If you are prepared to explore further the outer reaches of the Metropolitan tube line take you out into the Chilterns. Some proper villages/small towns around there.
Great Missenden can be accessed very easily by the Chiltern line from Marylebone station. It has a very villagey feel with the added bonus of the Roald Dahl museum on the high street. Nearer in Harrow on the Hill, around Harrow School is picturesque with a lovely churchyard and great views over the countryside and towards London. It's not the area right by the station which is pretty ugly. Just a short bus ride up the hill.

For playgrounds the Diana Memorial playground in Hyde Park is very popular. There is also Corams Field in Bloomsbury near the British Museum.

Posted by
3946 posts

What do you want from a village? I live in a village a few miles from Tunbridge Wells in Kent. It has a small post office, a cafe, a pub and a butchers and a few swings and a slide for young children. Most children visiting here would be bored rigid. In the adjacent village, the village shop and pub have closed over the past 5 years, so it has no facilities. Yes, the local architecture is attractive and we are surrounded by glorious countryside, but you need a car to explore it.

You aren’t going to get village life in London - there are too many people and far too much traffic. There are some places that don’t feel like a huge city, such as Highgate, Richmond, Hampstead or Chiswick, but they don’t feel like villages. You need to get away from the major trunk roads for the “village” feel, but this means being further from public transport facilities.

The London Transport Museum in Covent Garden is interesting for children if you haven’t been before.

Posted by
5308 posts

I would think of Hampstead as having a village-y feel (shorter brick buildings, very pedestrian friendly, etc).

I bet there are a ton of articles from travel publications and newspapers on “London for kids” that might mention fun parks etc.

Posted by
11676 posts

My grandchildren loved the playground in St. James Park, with climbing opportunities and an interesting swing, plus rocks and sand. The birds ( mostly waterfowl) in the park are a bonus.

We did not make it to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens, but it is also very popular.

I see these two playgrounds in particular are recommended in this article, with photos:

Posted by
4864 posts

What about that area on the north side that has the canals and houseboats? I'm sorry I cant come up with the name.

Posted by
4669 posts

distaver, you might get better results if you added your hometown to your visible profile, as have most of the responders so far. If you're from a rural area, we might understand your wishes better. Like most big cities of the world, London requires extensive transit usage to see "things". But like my own hometown, New York City, people who live in a flat don't use their car to buy everyday things - they shop and even dine in a walking radius. In that way, I say that NYC is a collection of neighborhoods.

I don't think you were referring to "old" architecture, but there's plenty of that all over London. Do you mean "a playground or park, and a convenience store to stock our self-catering kitchen within walking distance?" There are neighborhoods all over London like that.

I have to say, even when we rented in the Lake District 25 years ago, big-box supermarkets were already driving the village specialist markets out of business, especially with the decrease in free time for parents. We were able to walk around town with a basket on our arm, but it was the last gasp of an era.

Posted by
4653 posts

There are areas of Blackheath, Kew, Richmond, Highgate, Hamstead, and quite a few other suburbs that have a "village" atmosphere once you get away from main roads.

Posted by
16596 posts

LondonWalks has tours of both Hampstead and Highgate. I found both worthwhile, but I thought Hampstead was visually more attractive. The Highgate tour is rather hilly. The company's walking tours are just-show-up affairs, so you can keep and eye on the weather and seize a good opportunity for an informative, entertaining 2 hours.

Posted by
477 posts

Stan: the name you're looking for is Little Venice, and its wonderful. So is Hampstead.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for all the responses, they've given me lots of ideas to research. Very much appreciated!!!

Posted by
2 posts

Depending on how long you've got you could consider going to Richmond. On your left as you come out of the train/tube station and behind the main street is Richmond Green which is a pleasant green square with trees, nice pub overlooking it, and a couple of excellent ice cream parlours down the cute alleyway leading to it. From there you can meander down to the River Thames. Turn left and it's a really nice walk in the meadows by the river to Petersham where there are very pretty woods, and, if you feel like it there's a little passenger ferry that you have to shout for if it's on the wrong side of the river to take you across to a playground. Come back over to the Petersham side and you might catch the posh people playing polo or you could visit Petersham Nurseries which has quite a villagey feel and a rather pricey cafe/restaurant. If you still have energy you could make your way up the hill to have a look at the view or to go into Richmond Park where you get a real countryside feel and there are a lot of deer around. Richmond is also well placed for going to Hampton Court or Kew Gardens, if you were interested in them.

If you don't have time for that then wandering round Hampstead is great too - go down Flask Walk and get lost in the back streets around Burgh House and then up to the Heath is nice.

Posted by
2456 posts

We stayed within walking distance of Richmond for 2 weeks and I agree with many here that Richmond, near the green and Thames would give you a charming center. There are green areas, playgrounds, Kew Botanical Garden, shops, historic homes, Thames path walks. We took one walk along the Thames from Richmond to Twickenham to see Eel Pie Island. There were playgrounds and pubs along the way. I loved Richmond. it was easy to get to central London, Hampton Court Palace and the airport.

EDIT: We had our, then, 8 year old granddaughter with us. She loved the walks and playgrounds near Richmond and the Thames. She said she’d tell her parents that she had her first pint at a pub with us 😉 at one charming stop. It was a pint of peel and eat shrimp so we said go ahead and tell your parents!

Posted by
3 posts

I appreciate both of your responses, we can't wait to visit these wonderful places! Thank you for the suggestions!