Kenwood House - History and Facts | History Hit

Kenwood House

London, England, United Kingdom

Kenwood House is a picturesque historic stately home in North London.

Peta Stamper

07 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Kenwood House

Kenwood House is a picturesque historic stately home in North London run by English Heritage. Initially built in the 17th century, Kenwood House subsequently underwent a renovation in the mid-18th century.

Today, Kenwood House is famous for its summer concerts, held in its extensive gardens. It also houses an impressive art collection, including works by Vermeer, Constable and Rembrandt to name a few.

Kenwood House history

The original house on the property, Caen Wood House, was built around 1616 by the John Bill, the King’s Printer. This house was demolished in 1694 after being acquired by William Bridges who was Surveyor-General of the Ordinance, although the original brick structure remained under the 18th century facade. Bridges sold the house in 1704 and it was bought by future Earl of Mansfield, William Murray in 1754.

Murray remodelled the house, adding a library and the Ionic portico, and by 1780 the house became a permanent residence. The successive owners continued to extend the property, adding a dairy and kitchen buildings as well as a brewery. Kenwood House remained in the Mansfield family until it was leased in 1910 to the exiled Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia and his wife, Countess Sophie of Merenberg.

Part of the grounds came under the London County Council in 1924 and was opened to the public by King George V the following year. Lord Iveagh, a rich Anglo-Irish businessman bought the house and the remaining 74 acres, leaving it to the nation on his death in 1927 including paintings from his vast collection.

In 1968, the house came under the care of English Heritage, who renovated the building including repairing the slate roof, redisplaying the Iveagh Bequest paintings and redecorating according to the 18th century design.

The house was also starred as a filming location in the 1999 film, Notting Hill.

Kenwood House today

Today, a visit to Kenwood House on the edge of Hampstead Heath you can expect to tour breathtaking interiors and a world-class art collection, including Rembrandt’s ‘Portrait with Two Circles’. Without charge, tour the acres of grounds and wander through the tranquil landscaped gardens before finishing in the cafe for a relaxing hot beverage.

Getting to Kenwood House

Situated in North london’s Hampstead Health, Kenwood House is easily found on foot and a 2 hour walk from central London. Using public transport from Trafalgar Square you can reach Kenwood by getting the Northern line tube to Golders Green, then the 210 bus to Finsbury Park, stopping at Kenwood. If driving, Kenwood House is found just off the A1, and there is parking at the site.

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