Thursday, July 10, 2014

Kenwood House

We are very lucky to have so many beautiful parks in London, and I make sure to visit them as often as possible during the summer.

A few weekends ago, we headed over to Hampstead Heath, for a sunny Sunday spent exploring Kenwood House.

Taking a stroll around the lake by Kenwood House.

Kenwood House is an English Heritage building, and is a former stately home, steeped in history, and full of paintings, beautifully ornate furniture and impressive fireplaces.

This fancy bench is looking a little ruff around the edges...

There is a room that houses jewellery - everything from bejewelled belt buckles, to brooches, to rhinestone hair combs, to pendants with delicate portraits of family members painted onto them.  

I loved this heart-shaped lock and key brooch!

There is an abundance of art work in the house, many of them portraits, by artists such as Rembrandt, Turner and Van Dyke, and they cover nearly every inch of every wall.

I like to call this work of art: The Thinker...

Personally, one of the things I find most interesting when visiting English Heritage buildings, is the furniture.  Even though nobody lives there any more, you sill feel as though you are having a nosey around someone's home, because the furniture makes it less like a museum, and more like a place of residence.  My favourite piece of furniture was a sofa with cloven hooves!  It was designed by Robert Adam, the very same Scottish architect who designed Kenwood House itself.  This particular sofa used to live in the White House, but was returned to Kenwood House by President Kennedy, when Jackie O wanted to redecorate (clearly, she was not a fan of the hooves). 

Keep those hooves off  the furniture!

Kenwood House has been in the press a lot lately, as there is a new film out called Belle, which is based on Dido Elizabeth Belle, who lived at Kenwood House for 30 years during the 18th Century.  As such, there is also a small exhibition in one of the rooms, featuring costumes from the movie and a copy of a painting which features Dido Belle and her cousin, Elizabeth Murray.

I kind of wanted to swap dresses...

Believed to be Britain's first black aristocrat, Dido was born the illegitimate, mixed race daughter to naval captain, John Lindsay and her enslaved mother Maria Belle.  Dido was brought to live with Lindsay's extended family in England, and was raised by the Earl of Mansfield and his wife at Kenwood House.  

 Spot the odd one out...

Having explored the whole building, I can safely say that without a doubt, my favourite room in Kenwood House is the library...

Beautiful in baby blue and baby pink! 

Afterwards, we walked around the Heath a bit, before heading down the road to the Spaniards Inn.  If you've never been to this pub, then I recommend it as a year-round great choice in London!  During the winter, it's a cozy place where you can tuck yourselves away in an alcove by a fireplace.  In the summer, however, there's only one option:  the garden.

Eagerly awaiting our lunch...

The beer garden is huge and pretty, and the perfect place to sip a nice glass of chilled wine, accompanied by a house-made scotch egg!

If it's good enough for Keats and Dickens, then it's good enough for us!

A lovely day out, and as entrance to Kenwood House is free, it's a great budget-friendly option for an excursion in London.  Just don't forget to stop off for a drink at the local boozer afterwards!


  1. I love how your dress matches the foxgloves in that first photo. Sounds like a lovely day out and I am putting it on my list of places to visit when I make it to London again. Slightly amazed by that library ceiling! Going to try to catch that film too.

    1. Those flowers were so pretty, and who can resist a photo when they match your outfit? :)

      The library is amaaaaazing!!!!!

      I will need to watch the film too, as her life story sounds so interesting, and I love watching films where I can recognise the scenery!

  2. Aw, yay! Ben and I drug our moms and dads on that very same day out in 2007 when they were visiting! Kenwood House, pub, and all! Great recommendation! Making me think we are long overdue for drinks at the Spaniards Inn ;) Love it!

    1. Oh yes! I will happily join you two for a drink at the Spaniards Inn! :)

  3. Is it embarrassing to admit that the only reason I recognize this is due to "Notting Hill." "Belle" is also on my must-see list. As much as I love CA, I always think it must be nice to live amongst such incredible history!!!

    1. Heehee! I don't even remember Kenwood House being in that movie! Belle is on my movie list too, I hope that the film lives up to the uniqueness of her life-story.

  4. That is an amazing house! I would love to visit somewhere like that. I hope to visit Hearst Castle one day.

    1. Oooh, yes I'd love to visit Hearst Castle too - the swimming pool looks A-MAZ-ING...too bad that you can't go for a dip when visiting!

  5. what a wonderful place!
    your white/pink dress is super lovely.

  6. Be still my museum + antique/vintage jewelry loving heart, this post is a true feast for the eyes and fuel for one's historical clothing loving fires. The display of buckles in particular caught my eye - I've never seen so many of them in one spot before! Love this post and all that you shared with us, honey, thank you!

    ♥ Jessica

    1. Glad you enjoyed this post, Jessica! Can you believe that the photos I included of the belt buckles wasn't even half of them?! So many beautiful things on display!