John Gurney Hoare was the driving force in the campaign to save Hampstead Heath from residential development.
Born near Inverforth House in North End Road, he was the grandson of the Quaker banker Samuel Hoare, one of the 12 founding members of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.
He was educated privately and at Trinity College, Cambridge. He became a partner in his father’s bank and inherited Hill House, Hampstead. He was a major driving force in the forty-year battle to save Hampstead Heath from development.
Their victory was sealed by an Act of Parliament in 1871 which protected 200 acres of the Heath as an open space for the people of London. It was placed under the guardianship of the Metropolitan Board of Works with the assurance that ‘The Board shall at all times preserve, as far as maybe, the natural aspect and state of the Heath’. Their aim to keep the land forever ‘unenclosed and unbuilt’ was achieved.
Thirty people including 2 members of the Gurney Hoare family braved a torrential downpour to attend the unveiling of the plaque in June 1980.