Spotlight On Kenwood
Far from the hustle and bustle of the capital on the edge of Hampstead Heath, Kenwood is one of London's lesser-known gems.
As well as being at the heart of the local community and supported by a dedicated team of volunteers, Kenwood entices visitors from further afield with its incredible art collection, tranquil grounds and unique design. It's also free to enter.
Discover Kenwood House
The Kenwood you see today was remodelled between 1764 and 1779 by Robert Adam, commissioned by Lord Mansfield. It's a masterpiece of innovative detail and architectural storytelling - from the entrance hall which doubled as the dining room, to the dramatic Great Library which was renovated as part of our recent restoration project.
Kenwood is home to the Iveagh Bequest, an extraordinary collection of artworks by Old Masters and British painters assembled by Edward Cecil Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh and left to the nation in 1927. Important pieces by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Gainsborough and Reynolds are hung in 'a fine example of the artistic home of an 18th-century gentleman.'
The house itself is set in a considerable estate, which provides some great walking - especially when combined with Hampstead Heath - and is very popular with local dog walkers. There are fantastic views over London too - St Paul's Cathedral, the Shard and Canary Wharf can all be seen from the grounds.
Why we love Kenwood
"Kenwood has one of the greatest, most significant collections of art in the country - shown in a intimate setting in which you can sit down peacefully and spend as little time or as long as you want in contemplation. It's also hard to believe we're in Zone 2. It doesn't feel like you're in London." Jerzy Kierkuc-Bielinski, Collections Curator
"I love bringing it to life and telling all the stories - it really gives the place some warmth, having volunteers here." George Driffill, Volunteer
"The community is an incredibly strong presence here, and when you take everything together: the estate, the history, and the art collection - it's really the full package." Phil Wright, Site Manager
Did you know?
Hanging by the window in the Breakfast Room is the portrait by Gainsborough of a Belgian-born inventor called John Joseph Merlin.
As well as inventing the 'gouty chair' - an early wheelchair (pictured) - he invented, with James Cox, a clock powered by atmospheric pressure, a kind of weighing scale and improved musical instruments.
He's also credited with inventing inline roller skates in 1760, and - according to Kenwood volunteer George - premiered his invention at a ball where he made a grand entrance into the ballroom by rolling in while playing the violin.
Unfortunately, he couldn't stop and crashed into a huge mirror, smashing it, his violin and his wrist in the process.