House on the Heath

Kenwood House

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This stately home was home to Lord Mansfield and his family and was later bought by the Earl of Iveagh of the Guinness Family to hold his art collection.

 

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It was designed by the Adams brothers who were early adopters of the Neo-Classical style (heavily inspired by Ancient Greece and Rome).  It’s got lovely columns and decor elements pulled straight from Ancient Rome.

 

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The Library in particular is fantastic!  It’s the room Lord Mansfield (who was Head Justice for over 30yrs) would impress his guests in.

 

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The house is located on Hampstead Heath which is now firmly located in London but at the time was actually the countryside.  The Heath is one of the highest (altitude) areas of London and has some great views.

 

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Famously this was the home of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the inspiration of the film Belle! (WATCH IT! Gugu Mbatha-Raw is fantastic!!!).  She was Lord Mansfield’s grand-niece AND Black.  As you can imagine it sent some racists into a tizzy to have an black person not fit their colonialist assumptions.

 

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The art collection left by Lord Iveagh is amazing. I was actually alone in a room with a Vermeer! How often does that happen? Also the non-related Jacobean portraits were stunning too!

 

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I’d like to give a shout-out to the staff and volunteers! I think I chatted with almost every single one of them. They were all great resources and answered all my questions about paint colours, the family history and the Heath. THANK YOU!


Rating 4/5

Pros: AMAZING art collection, gorgeous architecture, fun kid space, cute shop, yummy cafe, beautiful gardens (the HEATH), super helpful and friendly staff, lots of space to manoeuver and sit, FREE.

Cons: I wanted a bit more family history than was presented in the books in each room, and I wanted more about the Heath itself!

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