Kenwood House, London September 2018

by Emma Bumpus on September 30, 2018

Autumn brings seasonal colour to London with a trip to Kenwood House where careeraveller steps into the land of pure English heritage and verdant Hampstead Heath.

Perched on a hill in wide open parkland stands this majestic 18th century former stately home, which situated in 112 acres of rolling landscaped gardens is a playground of family picnics, kite flying, joggers and gentle woodland trails.

Our tour begins through the north front of the house where commanding pillars and a statuesque portico unfold the history and aristocracy of Kenwood House dating back to the 17th century.

Access to the Entrance Hall is a grand affair of detail, decoration and dignity where the likes of Lord and Lady Mansfield entertained guests in a room once used for formal dining. Redesigned by Scottish architect Robert Adam is a chamber of intricate beauty and symmetry where sky blue walls and Wedgewood blue doors smack of Georgian elegance.

Floor to ceiling is a storytelling mix of European and far-flung eastern travel, featuring showy decor in the form of embellished Oriental rug to ornate ceiling panel, which painted by Venetian artist Antonio Zucchi, blends harmoniously with the archetypical marble chimney piece.

Captivated by Kenwood’s splendour unwinds a tour of elaborate interiors, sculptures and artwork which reveals a fascinating past of significant people from Earls and Viscounts to architects and artists. Included is Judge Lord Mansfield who acquired and expanded the estate from 1756 and commissioned Adam to remodel it between 1764-1779.

Opulent rooms form a trail of ‘Adam style’ interiors that display a show of striking colour schemes, elaborate stuccowork and curved walls and domes. Layer upon layer of history brings the arts alive with frescoes and wall paintings inspired by Adam’s travels in Italy.

The Careertraveller favourite Library is a show stopping Great Room full of antiquity that sits beneath a coved ceiling decorated with Zucchi neoclassical paintings. Redecorated with over-painted gilding and reinstated colour schemes is a tribute to Edward Cecil Guinness who bought Kenwood in 1925 and later bequeathed it to the nation.

Now managed by English Heritage we view a vast collection of artwork containing world- famous artists including Turner, Rembrandt and Gainsborough in rooms that echo England’s story.

From Music Room to Dining Room we encounter 18th century portraits to old master paintings including Rembrandt’s Portrait of the Artist that sweeps us south to the Orangery. It is here we inhale Kenwood’s intoxicating gardens from large fronted windows overlooking the work of landscape designer Sir Humphrey Repton. Considering Kenwood more of an ‘elegant mansion’ than country estate, Repton designed a pleasure garden with side walks and southern borderline trees to create an elongated valley effect to the city. Sublime!

A stroll around the grounds brings art and architecture close to nature with striking views of Kenwood’s south front façade, whose ornamental creamy white brickwork and engravings define this neoclassical villa. Romantic, inspiring and free to the public, Kenwood is much more than a walk in the park and a distinguished location for concerts and films, including Notting Hill and Sense and Sensibility.

Surprises come in the shape of alfresco sculptures by celebrated British sculptors Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, who both had a connection with Kenwood having lived in Hampstead in the 1930s.

We take a seat to admire Moore’s bronze Two Piece Reclining Figure, No. 5, (1963–19640 and peer at London’s skyline above sloping treetops before strolling down to Thousand Pound Pond, an oasis of calm. Formed with the dreamy Sham Bridge we admire Hampstead’s ancient woodland, which approximately four miles from Greater London makes a great day out.

Further Information
Kenwood House
English Heritage

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