“Old Wyldes”, North End, where the painter John Linnell played host to William Blake, is an early 17th-century house on the edge of Hampstead Heath. Though the present house was probably built soon after 1600, the estate of which it was the farmhouse was very much older, dating back to medieval times when it had been under monastic control. Wyldes was the medieval name of the estate, a name that was revived at the end of the 19th century. In Blake’s day it was known as Collins Farm.
The Collinses, father and son (and both called John) had been farming Wyldes since 1793. John Collins, the younger, was a small scale dairy farmer, owning 16 cows which grazed on the heath. He also sold strawberries, apples, currants and fresh water at a penny farthing a pail from one of the wells near the house. It is said that “J. Collins cow Keeper & Dairyman North End” can still be seen scratched on the window of his kitchen.