This is a wonderful example of Robert Adam's work at his apogee. The original house dates from the early 17th century when it was known as Caen Wood House. The orangery was added in about 1700. In 1754 it was bought by William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield. He commissioned Robert Adam to remodel it from 1764–1779. Adam added the library (one of his most famous interiors) to balance the orangery, and added the Ionic portico at the entrance. In 1793-6 George Saunders added two wings on the north side, and the offices and kitchen buildings and brewery (now the restaurant) to the side. The 2nd Earl and Countess of Mansfield added a dairy to supply Kenwood House with milk and cheese. After two years of negotiations, the 6th Earl of Mansfield leased the house to the exiled Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia and his wife Countess Sophie of Merenberg in 1910. Lord Iveagh, a rich Anglo-Irish businessman and philanthropist (of the Guinness family), bought the house from the Mansfield family in 1925 and left it to the nation upon his death in 1927; it was opened to the public in 1928.
You can roam the meandering paths around Kenwood through 112 acres of glorious parkland, set on the crest of one of the most popular open spaces in the capital, Hampstead Heath. Explore the ancient woodland, fascinating dairy, and look out for the beautiful sculptures and sham bridge. There is also a new garden by Arabella Lennox-Boyd. One third of the estate is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, particularly the ancient woodlands. These are home to many birds and insects and the largest Pipistrelle bat roost in London. There are sculptures by Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Eugène Dodeigne in the gardens near the house.In contrast to the natural heathland, the park around Kenwood is a designed landscape created by Sir Humphrey Repton. There is something to enjoy here in every season. Music concerts, originally classical but in more recent years predominantly pop concerts, were held by the lake on Saturday evenings every summer from 1951 until 2006, attracting thousands of people to picnic and enjoy the music, scenery and spectacular fireworks. In February 2007, English Heritage decided to abandon these concerts owing to restrictions placed on them after protests from some local residents. On 19 March 2008, it was announced that the concerts would return to a new location on the Pasture Ground within the Kenwood Estate, with the number of concerts limited to eight per season. From the South Terrace, which has wide, level gravel paths, there are good views across the estate. Hoggin paths, which extend away from the house, may be uncomfortable to walk on and may be difficult for wheelchair visitors given dips and gradients. Level access throughout ground floor for Painting Collection. Easy staircase with continuous handrail to upper floor for ambulant disabled visitors. Seating provided. Assistance/Guide dogs welcomed (bowls provided). Members of staff are trained in audio description. There is a tactile map of Kenwood available in the entrance hall. Braille and Large Print guides available. Accessible toilets.
Location : Hampstead Lane, London NW3 7JR
Opening Times: Daily 10:00 to 17:00.
Brewhouse Cafe 09:00 to 16:00.
Tickets : Free.
Tel: 020 8348 1286. Minicom text 0800 015 0516