Sunday, December 9, 2018

London: Kenwood House

Day two in London found Jenny and I splitting up with Rick and T, and you'll hear more about doing our own thing next time. But in the morning Jenny and I visited one of the loveliest historic homes in London, Kenwood House. It was a different experience than Gunnersby Park (HERE)  the day before -- both remarkable but very unique in scope and style.

Fans of "Notting Hill" might recognize the exterior from the scene where Julia Roberts is shooting a period movie on location.

One enters the building through a wooded path at the back.

You see the rear of the house first, which is pretty nice -- but doesn't hold a candle to the front!

And then there is the interior! The house was built in the early 17th century but it hit its peak in the mid-1700s when William Murray, the 1st Earl of Mansfield, purchased the home and asked legendary architect Robert Adam to remodel it.

The rooms are drop-dead gorgeous with rich details and beautiful and valuable art and artifacts.

Adam added what might be one of my favorite rooms of all time -- the neoclassical library. (Every now and then you realize you should have photographed something horizontally!)

Well, I did a little horizontal -- but it doesn't really show the scope!

It's like a symphony in candy colors -- pale pinks and blues with embossed Grecian-inspired figures, reminiscent of the work of contemporary Josiah Wedgewood.

The ceiling, highly arched and continuing the theme surrounding the room was glorious.

Here's a detail from the ceiling.

And I admired the tall columns supporting the room and how it just "worked" with the colors.

And the details! Oh!

I could have stayed in this room forever.

In 1925, Lord Iveagh, a wealthy businessman and philanthropist and part of the Guinness family purchased the house from the Mansfields and when he died two years later, he left it to the nation. The year after his death it was open to the public. The grounds were protected by the Kenwood Preservation Council.

Lord Iveagh was an enthusiastic art collector and the collection you see at Kenwood is extensive. What might be one of the most valuable paintings in the UK, a self-portrait of Rembrandt, is on display.

You'll also find a Vermeer...

...a Constable...

...Franz Halls, Thomas Gainsborough, Turner and Van Dyck, among others.

The house has also been featured in films besides "Notting Hill," most notably the 1995 feature "Sense and Sensibility." Although the 2013 "Belle," about Wililam Murray's mixed-race daughter, was "set" at Kenwood and its grounds, the movie was actually filmed in a variety of other locations.

One could also find intriguing items like the first wheelchair!

 It was designed by John Joseph Merlin, painted here by Thomas Gainsborough.

The lighting fixtures and work on the stairwell banisters was beautiful. So, too, was the gallery of portrait miniatures and mourning jewelry, though my photos didn't turn out so well on that.

Don't forget to look up!

I did, however, love this Asian-inspired fireplace.

It is a remarkable and lovely experience to see some of the world's great art in the setting of a private home, with furniture and accessories, as opposed to a gallery wall.

We are seeing art the way it was most likely created to be seen -- in a personal space. And it makes a tremendous difference in the feeling one has when observing it.

I would be remiss in not sharing some of the beautiful Kenwood exteriors. The building itself is a stunner, though I didn't get far enough away to capture the entire facade in one photo!

It is set on parkland and I enjoyed seeing people relaxing there.

There was a bit of fall in the air, too. I was missing fall in the states, so while I didn't see a lot of vibrant trees during our trip, this was a day that scored a delightful view!

I loved the little gift shop exterior as well. I may have to paint this one!

All in all, Kenwood is a real treat and highly recommended.

Travel Tips: 

  •  Kenwood House is located in Hampstead and one can make a day of it there. We were fortunate to drive there. It is about a 20 minute walk from the tube (according to Trip Advisor) but the 210 bus takes one closest.
  • If you drive, pay close attention to your parking meter time. They do, as we found out.
  • If you plan to go by public transportation, choose a nice day as you may be walking across the heath.
  • Kenwood House and the grounds are free. One can bring a picnic to enjoy on the grounds or Hampstead Heath or purchase food onsite. 
  • We didn't have time to check out the shops but it looked like a charming town to visit as well and might be worth a look.
Sharing with:  Let's Keep In Touch    /      Take Me Away Link Party    /    Pink Saturday


David M. Gascoigne, said...

You are quite right, Jeanie, that neoclassical library does recall Wedgwood to a great extent, a pottery which no longer exists to the best of my recollection from when we visited the area of Britain known as The Potteries three years ago. On a previous trip we had done the tour and completely enjoyed it. So, we know what you did. What did Rick do? It is unconscionable that you leave us in suspense like this! I hope that Rick’s day involved, bread, wine (or ale perhaps) and a Ploughman’s Lunch! Seems only fair to me!

William Kendall said...

What a grand interior, especially the art!

Nikki - Notes of Life said...

What a wonderful place to visit. I've never been, but I'm definitely going to plan to go there next time I'm down that way.

Misadventures of Widowhood said...

Grand interiors but not garish. What a lovely way to spend a day. The art work alone would be worth the trip.

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

Oh Jeannie, what a wonderful place to visit! It looks like it was a gorgeous day, too. It's difficult to wrap your brain around the kind of wealth involved in creating and maintaining those now historic homes! -Jenn

Sandra Cox said...

Oh my.

Susan Kane said...

How utterly amazing.

Nora @ Teacup Tales said...

So beautiful, inside and outside! How amazing it houses so many famous paintings. London (and the surrounding area) never ceases to amaze me. There are so many hidden gems. No matter how many times I travel there, I continue to discover new places.
The weather looks incredible for December. Enjoy your trip!

Regina said...

Oh what an amazing place to visit! I would love to go there. Thank you for sharing!

Joyful said...

Definite eye candy ;-)

Iris Flavia said...

Awwww, Jeanie!
I just sit here on this still coming up dark morning (like in winter, no worries) and I imagine my big Niece marvelling all over the pink! Oh, how she would love it all!

All those portaits, so beautiful!
The Wheelchair, well. We have to be thankful these things do exist. And that there is development, too.

Sorry about the parking thing, but, being German, I have to laugh ;-)

As one time... I had Ingo´s car.. well .. long story short. They were male police officers, I was an 24-year old female... they let me go!! (They did - how unfair to others!!!)

Valerie-Jael said...

It really is beautiful, we visited there from school a couple of times, and I have often seen it from the outside. The paintings are wonderful, and the old wheel-chair really intriguing. Thanks for sharing, hugs, Valerie

eileeninmd said...

Hello Jeanie, I love both the outside and interior of the Kenwood House. The library is just lovely. Beautiful artwork. The park like setting is beautiful too. Wonderful tour, thank you for sharing. Happy Monday, enjoy your day and new week ahead!

Joanne Huffman said...

It looks like a lovely day. I am often struck by the way people used to privately support the arts by decorating the interiors of their houses. As wonderful as museums are, there's something particularly delightful with finding and using artists and artisans.

Pamela said...

How beautiful! Thank you for the tour!

Pam Richardson said...

Jeanie, I love beautiful historic homes! Kenwood is certainly stunning and the library is perfection along with all of the important art. Thank you, I am so enjoying traveling with you!

Running on empty said...

Fantastic, I’ll take it for my English pad. Can you include that constable , too, I think we will need a troop of constables to protect it while we are at our other mansions in Timbuctoo and back o Burke.


La Table De Nana said...

The setting reminds me so much of Chateau Montauban in Fontvielle France!

Looks like you loved your London experience!!
So happy you got to do this and Kudos for you having done all this while your foot was in so much pain.

Arti said...

What a magnificent place! Sure I remember that scene in "Notting Hill" and Kenwood House is on my list to see the next time I visit London. As a matter of fact, if I visit London and Paris again I'll definitely come back here to your travel posts as a guide! Coincidentally, I just saw a documentary yesterday in the theatre by the director of "Notting Hill" Roger Michell: "Nothing Like a Dame", a must-see for you cause I know you'll thoroughly enjoy it. Michell has gathered four Dames: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Eileen Atkins, and Joan Plowright (wife of the late Sir Lawrence Olivier)to chat over tea, and champagne, and reminisce on their past works. Very entertaining.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

I love beautiful, old architecture and this is certainly a grand place. Beautiful photos too!

BB said...

Oh, how this post was right up my alley. When I saw the pic of the exterior of the house, I was so hoping that they allowed you to take photos of the interior. So beautiful. And didn't you just go at the most beautiful time of year with all the fall colors. Love it!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Wow, so gorgeous! I adore that blue and pink library. I, too, could spend A LOT of time in that room! The trees at the beginning of the post are gorgeous, too! Looks like another gorgeous day of weather. What a beautiful place to visit - and nice that you were able to drive there and save your feet for touring the home/grounds!

Pom Pom said...

Wow! It IS ornate and beautiful.

Mary Rose's said...

I have to ask ... were the teasels places on the wheel chair as a subtle sort of "Don't Sit On This?"

You and Rick had a fantastic trip - I am savoring each of these posts with delight.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

This is obviously what a well kept and funded mansion should look like in England. This was beauty beyond compare. Yes, that library will take anyone's breath away. So glad you shared it with us. And thanks to Jenny for taking you, too.

Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson said...

Oh wow, what a glorious place! That library had me swooning!! I love touring places like this. Your cute smile told me that you do too!!

shoreacres said...

My favorite bits are the self-portrait of Rembrandt, and that last photo of the gift shop. I'd love to see you paint that, and I'll bet it would be great fun to do, too!

My name is Erika. said...

That is a fascinating place. I find these European country "homes" very interesting. Especially when they aren't full of all the gaudy gold decorations like you see at a few AMerican mansions. Thanks for sharing Jeanie, and thanks for the cool holiday card too. I love seeing all those gorgeous family photos. :) Hugs-Erika

BeachGypsy said...

That is an amazing library!!--can you imagine just relaxing there with a fire blazing on a winter's evening, and getting lost in a big long book!? Love the ceiling art and I do love all the pretty CARPETS! Especially that blue one. Seeing all the paintings is so interesting, gosh---they sure HAD SO MANY didn't they!? hope your week has started off well, we're all doing okay here. Busy wrapping presents and mailing boxes to far away friends and family.

Sami said...

I do remember that fa├žade from "Notting Hill". The interiors are beautiful, the pastel room and ceiling just gorgeous and of course that last photo with the reddish leaves is worthy of being painted!!
Thanks for taking us on this amazing tour.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I like your travel tips! If I ever get to travel aboard I need to talk to you first! heehee! And we love Notting Hill and just talked about watching it again. But we have so many Christmas movies in our collection. It's a fun time of year! Thanks for sharing your trip! Holiday hugs!

Jenny Woolf said...

Delightful photos Jeanie, so much better ones of the library than I took! Do you remember the stories of that guide shown in one of your pictures? That wonderful weather seems a bit like a dream :)

Kirsten Steen said...

Oh how very lovely! I love that detail shot... and of course the library! How fun to get to share some of your trip through your blog. Facade is gorgeous too! Hope you have a great holiday!

Rita C at Panoply said...

What a treat to see the details of this estate! I love that settee you were photographed on. I would have enjoyed the miniatures, but what we were privy to here was like being transported there. Thanks Jeanie!

Decor To Adore said...

I am catching up with you this morning sweet Jeanie! I am LOVING all of your London posts. The sweet grands are just adorable. Have a wonderfully blessed holiday season.

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