I’ve been to London 11 times but this year I visited for the first time the beautiful and affluent London neighbourhood called Hampstead. I spent a wonderful day walking around Hampstead’s charming streets and I bumped into a few celebrities (Emma Thompson and Rowan Atkinson, be still my heart 🙂 ). Moreover, I almost got lost in the huge forest-like Hampstead Heath park. There you can find one of the most recognizable properties run by the English Heritage and immortalized in Richard Curtis’s movie Notting Hill. Of course, I’m talking about the Kenwood house. My reason for visiting this stately home was the aforementioned movie with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. It’s one of my favourite feel-good movies.
About Kenwood House
Kenwood house was built in the early 17th century. It was bought by 1st Earl of Mansfield in 1754. He hired the famous Scottish architect Robert Adam to transform the house in the neoclassical mansion you can see today. In the subsequent years several additions to the house were made such as the offices, the kitchen buildings, the brewery and the diary. In 1925 Lord Iveagh (Edward Guinness-the beer magnate) bought the house from the Mansfield family. After only two years Lord Iveagh died and left the house and his priceless paintings to the nation. Already in 1928 Kenwood house was opened to the public. The entrance is still free of charge today. In the house you’ll see a collection of paintings which mostly consists of Old Master portraits, landscapes, 17th century Dutch and Flemish works and British artists.
There’s a car parking with limited space availability. There are two cafes: The Brew House Cafe and the Steward’s Room. There’s also a picnic area. You’ll find toilets in the house and in the service wing (the cafes are there). There are also two shops:one inside the house and one next to the cafes.
When I came close to Kenwood house I first noticed the big tree on the meadow opposite the house. Yes, that tree from that scene of the Notting Hill movie. I sat on the grass and relaxed for a bit while admiring the house and the grounds around it. I felt calm and very much in the moment-completely present in time and space, not thinking about anything else. A feeling I only get when I am travelling. Then I stood up after a while and walked towards the service wing on the right side of Kenwood house. There is a cafe and a shop where I asked for the entrance to the Kenwood house. I was actually sitting behind Kenwood house previously and so I went back (actually to the front of the house) and went in. I didn’t know that the entrance was free. A pleasant surprise, for sure.
I wandered around the house and took some photos. It’s a lovely place. I think there used to be a tea room in the orangery (that’s what I read several years ago) but now there is a kid’s playing area. The house isn’t very big and there aren’t many pieces of the original furniture. Kenwood house’s main selling point is its incredible paintings collection. You can see works by Rembrandt and Vermeer for instance. The room I liked the best was the library. I could just imagine myself reading my favourite book in this grand old library. I also liked the pastel blue ceilings and the fine decorations on the staircases. I finished my visit in the shop. I browsed the old postcards, art books, tea towels, trinkets and fancy journals. Also, I talked briefly with the shop assistant about some other English Heritage properties (I’ve been to a few actually). All in all, it was a pleasant visit. Afterwards I went to the Parliament Hill to admire the view of London.
Have you visited Kenwood House?
For more information about Kenwood House click here
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