Return to Kenwood House

OK, so we’ve been to Kenwood House before. But with such a beautiful place nearby, it’s difficult not to… While last time was a fleeting visit on the blog, this trip we decided to look at things a little more closely.

Remodelled by Robert Adam in 1770 (you know by now how much we love good old Adam!), Kenwood sits in 74 acres next to Hampstead Heath, with views across to the City of London. The house is run by English Heritage but remains free entry to the public, thanks to the Iveagh Bequest. This was a gift of art from the 1st Earl of Iveagh in 1920, and comprises internationally-significant Old Master and British paintings by artists including Vermeer, Rembrandt, Gainsborough and Reynolds. Indeed, it is the finest collection of Old Master paintings given to the British nation in the 20th century.

Kenwood House

There is also a fine collection of furniture in the house, either designed by Adam or brought in sympathetically. We liked this tiny lion:

Table at Kenwood House

The library, with its archetypally Adam-esque colour scheme and gorgeous frieze work, is commonly held to be one of his greatest interiors.

Library at Kenwood House

We loved the painting below from 1630 by Claude de Jongh, depicting the old London Bridge before the Great Fire of London. After the fire, buildings were no longer allowed to be constructed on bridges, as this had helped the fire spread across the Thames. Interesting fact! [You can also see the tower of Southwark Cathedral in the background.]

Painting of London Bridge at Kenwood House

Given our penchant for chandeliers, the below gorgeousness was no exception…

Chandelier at Kenwood House

This beautiful ceiling reminded us of Wedgwood blue and white, with the detailed plasterwork and pretty bows.

Ceiling in entrance hall at Kenwood House

The view from the surrounding parkland is as stunning as you would expect – the Shard, Gherkin and London Eye are visible across the city.

View across London from Hampstead Heath

As are some quite spectacular canine specimens… Seriously. A dog with dreadlocks. Apparently a legitimate breed – it’s known as a Puli.

Very hairy dog on Hampstead Heath

Hilarious dogs aside, Kenwood House is quickly becoming one of our favourite places in London. We love the light, airy rooms, dipping in and out of the art collection (one of us only likes art in very small doses…) and walking amongst the surrounding parkland. There’s also a good café (naturally, we checked this out) although this can be [very] busy at peak times – might we suggest brunch in Hampstead first, then skipping straight to tea and cake? Now that’s what we call a great Sunday.

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