Kenwood House is an impressive neo-classical villa that sits on the northern edge of Hampstead Heath. The original house dates from the early 17th century when it was known as Caen Wood House.
In 1754 it was bought by William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield who commissioned the famous interior designer Robert Adam to remodel it from 1764–1779.
In 2012 the house was closed for a year of major restoration works. What’s interesting is that the renovations have been done in such a way to make the visitor feel like they are visiting a home, not a museum. As you wander the rooms, you're transported into the lives of the 18th century lady and gentleman. Each room is full of information and the friendly volunteers are happy to answer any questions.
The walls of the house are covered with an incredible selection of paintings boasting Rembrandt, Turner and Gainsborough. The collection is quite expansive, and thanks to the relaxed atmosphere of the house, you are encouraged to sit and soak up the greatness of the art.
The house was recently brought into the international spotlight with the wonderful film ‘Belle’, inspired by a true story of the fascinating life of Dido Elizabeth Belle, who grew up at Kenwood House.
When you have finished enjoying the atmosphere of the house, be sure to make time to wander around the incredible grounds. On a sunny day, you can't beat a picnic by the lake at the front of the house. While there, don’t miss the sculptures by Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore as you take in the stunning views of London. The garden café shop is also worth a look and you can pick up some beautiful herbs.
If you'd like to extend your day out, five minutes from Kenwood House is the 16th century Spaniards Inn www.thespaniardshampstead.co.uk, which is great for a hearty meal and a fine selection of ales.
If you’re feeling brave and want to burn some calories after your meal, finish off the day with a dip in the famous Heath ponds.
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