On the highest hill in the area of Hampstead is the National Trust property of Fenton House. It was built in 1660s and is the oldest building in Hampstead. And it has the largest garden in Hampstead. It’s kind of a big deal in Hampstead.
The former owner Lady Binnings bequeathed the house to the National Trust in the 1950s. Since then, the house has been open to the public (for a fee). Fenton is also a member of London SHH (Small Historic Houses).
Lady Binnings is well known for her collection of ceramics. Hers was a massive and high quality collection – she had a good eye. Her pieces are found all over the house.
Even her bedroom (recreated as if she still lived in the house) has a whole wall devoted to them. They are splendid.
My favourite room was Lady Binnings drawing room. She is the one in the photo on the table. It’s just so cheery! Looks like a great place to sit and read a book.
One of the interesting things about the National Trust is that they own so many different collections and items. On display in the House are a number of embroidery panels from the Stuart Era (Charles I & II and James I &II). I had never seen anything like them before! The style is very much the same as paintings of the era.
The other collection in the house is one of musical instruments. There are a dozen or more keyboard instruments. These are not Lady Binnings but now reside in her house. Even the servants quarters are full of pianos and the like!
The perk of being at the highest point of Hampstead is the magnificent views of Central London.
Other surprises included a small Constable painting and one by Brughel. The gardens of the house are marvellous but I am giving them their own post!
Pros: Cool building, fantastic collections, nice if slightly disjointed narrative, great views, amazing gardens, nice washrooms
Cons: Difficult for those with mobility issues, no real shop or cafe, very volunteer reliant – you must chat with people to learn about the house