Kenwood House

Kenwood House

Kenwood House (also known as the Iveagh Bequest) is a former stately home, in Hampstead, London, on the northern boundary of Hampstead Heath. It is managed by English Heritage.


The original house dates from the early 17th century. The orangery was added in about 1700. In 1754 it was bought by William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield. He commissioned Robert Adam to remodel it from 1764-1779. Adam added the library (one of his most famous interiors) to balance the orangery, and added the Ionic portico at the entrance. In 1793-6 George Saunders added two wings on the north side, and the offices and kitchen buildings and brewery (now the restaurant) to the side.

It was donated to the nation by Lord Iveagh, a member of the Guinness family, when he died in 1927, and opened to the public in 1928. He had bought the house from the Mansfield family in 1925. Unfortunately the furnishing had already been sold by then, so the house is largely empty. Some furniture has since been added. The paintings are from Iveagh's collection. Part of the grounds were bought by the Kenwood Preservation Council in 1922, after there had been threats that it would be sold for building. In the late 1990s the house received approximately 150,000 visitors a year and an estimated 1 million people visited the grounds each year. [ [ Kenwood: Information for Tutors and Students of Tourism Studies] , English Heritage booklet 2002 revision, page 5.]

The house was the subject of a Margaret Calkin James poster in the 1930s, and was seen by a myriad commuters on the London Underground.

The British feature film "Notting Hill" was partly filmed here.


Paintings of note include
* 'The Guitar Player' by Johannes Vermeer
* a late Rembrandt self portrait
* Pieter van den Broecke, by Frans Hals
* Thomas Gainsborough, 'Portrait of Countess Howe' (see Richard Howe, 1st Earl Howe)
* Edwin Henry Landseer, 'Hunting in the Olden Times'Other painters include
* Joshua Reynolds
* Angelica Kauffmann
* John Crome
* George Morland
* Van Dyck
* William Larkin
* J. M. W. Turner
* Arthur Boyd Houghton
* Frans Hals
* François Boucher
* Thomas Lawrence
* George Romney
* Jan Baptist Weenix
* Joseph Wright

There is also a collection of shoe buckles, jewellery and Portrait miniatures.


The estate has a designed landscape with gardens near the house, probably originally designed by Humphry Repton, contrasting with some surrounding woodland, and the naturalistic Hampstead Heath to the south. There is also a new garden by Arabella Lennox-Boyd.

One third of the estate is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, particularly the ancient woodlands. These are home to many birds and insects and the largest Pipistrelle bat roost in London.

There are sculptures by Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Reg Butler in the gardens near the house.

Music concerts, originally classical but in more recent years predominantly pop concerts, were held by the lake on Saturday evenings every summer from 1951 until 2006, attracting thousands of people to picnic and enjoy the music, scenery and spectacular fireworks. In February 2007, English Heritage decided to abandon these concerts owing to restrictions placed on them after protests from some local residents. The future of Kenwood House is now uncertain, as English Heritage depended on the income from the Lakeside Concerts to maintain the house at a cost of around a million pounds per year. [citeweb|url=|title=Kenwood Summer Concerts cancelled|accessdate=2008-04-29] . On 19 March 2008, it was announced that the concerts would return to a new location on the Pasture Ground within the Kenwood Estate, with the number of concerts limited to 8 per season. [citeweb|url=|title=IMG and English Heritage announce stunning line up for Kenwood House Picnic Concerts|accessdate=2008-04-29] .


* "The Buildings of England London 4: North". Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner. ISBN 0-300-09653-4.
* "Kenwood: The Iveagh Bequest". Julius Bryant. (English Heritage publication).

External links

* [ English Heritage website for the house]
* [ English Heritage website for the gardens]
* [ English Heritage - information for tutors and students of tourism studies]
* [ Flickr images tagged Kenwood House]
* [ Painting of Kenwood House by the late Paul Smyth, founder of the Finchley Arts Society]

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