architectural design, escape

An autumnal Sunday afternoon on Hampstead Heath

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Often Sundays can pass by in a blink of an eye, you get up late, have a cooked breakfast that turns into a brunch, lunch, whatever, then end up whiling the afternoon away on the sofa. This weekend we decided to do things a bit differently and headed up to Hampstead Heath for a day of autumnal walking and pub grub. We meandered from Hampstead Heath station, admiring the wagging-tailed dogs and changing colours of the leaves, up to Kenwood House. In all my time in London, I’d never managed to visit before, but boy was it worth it. It’s recently been refurbished by English Heritage – it’s cream facade stands proudly in the gently rolling landscape and inside the newly painted library sings.

Kenwood House was once the home of judge Lord Mansfield and his family, including his mixed-race niece Dido Belle (who was recently the subject of, in my opinion, a mediocre film, Belle). It was transformed by the great Scottish architect Robert Adam in the 1760s and 1770s into the fine neoclassical villa seen today. His work led to the addition of the colonnaded portico on the north front and the library to the south elevation, creating a symmetrical facade. Inside it is a riot of Georgian, Farrow & Ball-style colours, with decorative ceiling paintings, kitsch patterned carpets and stucco. In all the rooms, you catch glimpses of outside and the landscape beyond…

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Snap happy!

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Stopping for a well-deserved Earl Grey before stepping in Robert Adam’s mansion.

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A major refurbishment programme that begun in 2012 has given the neoclassical facade a seamless new finish.

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Looking outside, autumnal colours abound.

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I loved the bright blue colours of this slightly wonky door in the entrance hall, and couldn’t help but take a photo of this fab retro carpet on the stairs.

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The ceiling in the library is amazing, and this guy below fitted right in. The space was recently renovated, English Heritage sampled some 400 samples of paint to match the colours first applied to the library’s walls.

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All images my own

Entry to Kenwood House is free. It is open 10am-5pm, Monday to Sunday, excluding bank holidays. Check the website for more information on how to get there, etc.

And a word of warning, if you are looking for a pub to have a roast on a Sunday afternoon at around 2.00pm, forget it, it’s impossible, unless you book… (I’d recommend The Spaniards Inn if you do).

4 Comments

  1. Absolutely gorgeous! I especially love the library with its fuscia slipcovered chairs. So fresh and bright for a ‘serious’ library. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I’ve been to Hampstead quite a few times but have never visited Kenwood House- your post has inspired me to take a trip there this weekend :)

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