Kenwood House was one of the last gardens I visited in 2019. It was a beautiful day and the leaves were just changing colour.
Kenwood House is beside Hampstead Heath and a walk uphill from Hampstead village. It’s a beautiful part of north London but make sure you wear your walking shoes as there’s always quite a long walk if you get here using public transport.
Before walking around the Park, visit the house – it’s free and there are some wonderful paintings here including a self-portrait by Rembrandt although it’s sometimes on loan.
From thirteenth to sixteenth century Caen Wood was a monastic wood which was bought in 1616 by John Bill who built the first house on the site. George Middleton leased Kenwood from the Earl of Ilay at the beginning of the eighteenth century but by 1747, the house was owned by John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute who added the Orangery for his beloved exotics. In 1754, Lord Bute sold the estate to William Murray, later 1st Earl of Mansfield who commissioned Robert Adam to remodel the house and landscape the pleasure grounds. The 2nd Earl appointed Humphry Repton to update the landscape by removing the kitchen garden and extending the terrace. Parts of the estate were sold off at the beginning of the twentieth century and the Kenwood Preservation Trust bought some of the land. In 1924, Lord Iveagh bought the house and the remaining grounds, gifting them to the Nation on his death in 1927. In 1986, Kenwood House was transferred to English Heritage.