16 June 2014

Kenwood House, Hampstead Heath

Astoundingly many of London's quirkiest and most beautiful attractions won't cost you a penny. Free (both in a fiscal and tour sense) to wander through and admire, the incredible Kenwood House is nestled in one of the far corners of Hampstead Heath and needs to be added to your must visit list.  

Kenwood House, on the edge of London’s Hampstead Heath, was remodelled and extended by the Scottish architect Robert Adam for William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, from 1764 to 1779.
We (Jess and I) arrived in the middle of a gloriously sunny day, after a wander through the winding paths of Hampstead Heath, our original choice of visiting a historical house in Greenwich vetoed due to closures. I'm actually so pleased that it was.
Not having any expectations (or having done any research other than a flurry of late-night googling), we discovered that the recently renovated rooms of Kenwood are simply stunning. Mouths agape, and cameras ready for some serious shutter-work, we must have spent around 1.5 hours just wandering and admiring.
The main entrance is rather more humble than it's ostentations Roman columns but...
The interiors designed by Adam include some of his finest surviving schemes, particularly the ‘Great Room’ or library.
Every detail of the house is sumptuous. I particularly adored the library (above) and the craftsmanship of the smaller, more innocuous details - iron tracery stair railings, filigree door handles, tassled lights, sets of furniture with matching lion heads... it's a veritable feast for the senses.
After Kenwood’s original contents were sold in 1922 the house and grounds were bought by Edward Cecil Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh, who in 1927 bequeathed his outstanding collection of paintings to the nation.
Adorning the walls are stunning portraits (including the original punk fashionista), incredible frameworks and even a collection of shoe buckles (putting Big Bang Theorys Howard Wolowitz's collection of belt buckles to shame)
Outside, life was milking stools at dawn, and afternoon teas with the ladies in the nearby dairy...
Then, as ever onwards to the cake. Even that's ridiculously cool. Yep, I think I could live there if I had to...
Now, my only question is how to get my ceilings at home looking more like this...


  1. I love Kenwood House but I've never eaten in the cafe. How was it? x

  2. I'm impressed that you were able to work a BBT reference into this! ;) Also, that photo looking down from the top of the stairs is gorgeous!

  3. So true - the best stuff in London is free. I haven't been to Hampstead Heath in the summer time (if you can call this summer) - but I can imagine it would be so great

  4. I think I need to take a long hard look at my own ceilings now after this post, because I want those beautiful ones too! If you guys do end up coming down to Greenwich, send me a tweet, I'm 10 mins away and never need an excuse to visit those amazing buildings. (I also know where the fun hidden pubs are...)

  5. Oh Kenwood House, you were so nice to us. Funnily enough, I was back up in Hampstead on Saturday and got INCREDIBLY lost. Can't believe what an easy time we had finding the house last time around. Granted, one could have worse times than getting lost in the gorgeous Heath and then having tea in the Kenwood tea rooms. Perspective, Jessica. Perspective ;) Lovely post my dear. Lovely memories of a lovely day.

  6. I would love ceilings like that too so when I could not sleep at least I would have something nice to look at!

  7. This place looks awesome! I love houses with those amazing carved ceilings.

  8. Those ceilings, that library...*adds to London bucket list* Great pics too.


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