Brewing magnate Edward Cecil Guinness, first Earl of Iveagh, bought Kenwood House and estate in 1925.
When he died in 1927, he bequeathed the house, estate and part of his collection of pictures to the nation.
Iveagh Bequest and Suffolk Collection
The Iveagh Bequest includes important paintings by many great artists, including Rembrandt, Vermeer, Turner, Reynolds and Gainsborough. Recently they have been joined by Constable's oil sketch 'Hampstead Heath'. The paintings beautifully complement Kenwood's sumptuous interiors and rich decoration.
The first floor displays an equally beautiful but very different array of paintings.
The Suffolk Collection of 41 paintings, predominantly family portraits, was passed down through the Suffolk and Berkshire families from the 1580s. It was given to the nation in 1974 by the Hon. Mrs Greville Howard, following the wishes of her mother-in-law, the 11th Countess of Suffolk, who died in 1968.
Particularly rich in sumptuous costume and textile detail, it includes magnificent full length portraits of extravagantly dressed Elizabethan and Stuart ladies and noblemen, by William Larkin, Van Dyck and Lely, as well as paintings of King Charles I and James II.
Kenwood contains purchases from a sale of objects from Scone Palace, the Mansfields' Scottish home.
This was a rare opportunity to return Mansfield family items and furnishings of the 18th and 19th centuries to Kenwood. These include silver tableware, four chairs in the Chinese Chippendale style and a family portrait by Sir Peter Lely.
The parkland surrounding Kenwood was particularly influenced by the great English landscape gardener, Humphry Repton.
Set high on a hill, the views of London from these tranquil grounds are astounding.
The text and pictures on this page are derived from the 'Heritage Unlocked' series of guidebooks published in 2004. We intend to review, update and enhance the content in the near future as part of the Portico project, whose objective is to provide information on the history, significance, research background and sources for all English Heritage properties.