Kenwood House

London, United Kingdom | C.1616

Photo Credit: @arinainlondonland

Surrounded by tranquil landscaping, the stunning architectural design and interiors of the Kenwood House make it a hidden gem of London. Also known as the Iveagh Bequest, it is a former stately home located in Hampstead, London, on the northern boundary of Hampstead Heath. The neoclassical home served as a seat for the aristocratic Murray and Guinness families and various other tenants over the years.

The original house dates from the early 17th century when it was known as Caen Wood House and was likely a brick structure. Over the years additions to the home were made by various owners. An orangery was likely added in in the mid 1700s by Scottish aristocrat John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute. By 1754 the land was purchased by William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield. He commissioned Robert Adam to remodel it, adding the library – hailed one of his most famous interiors – as well as the ionic portico at the entrance.

William’s nephew, the 2nd Earl and Countess of Mansfield quickly succeeded to the earldom and made vast changes to the estate. He commissioned George Saunders to build the northeast and northwest wings which made room for a sophisticated dining and music room. In addition to new service wings he also added a brewhouse, gate lodges, a new farm and stables, and a dairy farm to supply Kenwood House with fresh milk and cheese. He also began renovations on the landscaping to modernize the gardens.

Kenwood House was passed down through the Mansfield family until the 6th Earl of Mansfield decided to sell it in 1914. Before the sale of the estate, the Earl had leased the house stating in 1909 to the exiled Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia and his wife Countess Sophie of Merenberg.

The house was ultimately purchased from the Mansfield family in 1925 by Lord Iveagh, a rich Anglo-Irish businessman and philanthropist of the Guinness family. Upon his death in 1927, he gave it to the nation, claiming the house should be open to the public as an example of a grand home in the 18th century. The home officially opened to the public the for the first time in 1928.

The estate is Grade II listed on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. One third of the site is even considered a “Site of Special Scientific Interest”, because the ancient woodlands host many birds, insects and the largest Pipistrelle bat roost in London.

Music concerts began to flock to a venue on the lake from 1951 until 2006. Originally the music was limited to classical concerts, but in more recent years pop concerts became more prominent. These events attracted thousands of people to picnic and enjoy the music, scenery and spectacular fireworks.

One thought on “Kenwood House

  1. says:
    August 8, 2023

    Beer, books, a beautiful house and local fauna??? Sign me in! Can’t think of a better plaece tonmake a stop an relax.

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