Kenwood House
country house in Hampstead, London



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Kenwood House
country house in Hampstead, London
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Hampstead Ln
United Kingdom

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Kenwood: Home to the guy who’s been getting you drunk on St. Patrick’s Day since 1925. 

Earl Edward Guinness (yes, like the beer) owned the house from 1925 to 1927, and brought his magnificent art collection with him, including works by Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Thomas Gainsborough, Sir Joshua Reynolds and Joseph Turner.  Guinness donated Kenwood and his A-1 collection to the people of England upon his death, under the condition that it forever be 100% free and open to the public. Alcoholics and art lovers alike are eternally grateful to you, Earl Guinness.

Before Guinness’ time, the house was home to plenty of other fascinating characters for 300 years. In the eighteenth century it was home to William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield and his mixed-race niece Dido Elizabeth Belle. Dido is perhaps Britain’s first black aristocrat, as well as the subject of a famous painting (now at Scone Palace Scotland, with a copy at Kenwood), and the movie Belle (2013).  The house was later rented to tenants, including a Russian Prince who went into exile for marrying the woman he loved, and thrice-married American Millionairess Nancy Leeds, nicknamed the “Million Dollar Princess.” Nancy was such a regular at Cartier she had her own hall, and married a Greek Prince, restyling herself as “Anastasia, Princess of Greece and Denmark.”

Today, thanks to Guinness, Kenwood belongs to the people. The old brewery has been converted into a restaurant. Visitors age 5 and up can tour the beautiful gardens and grounds with Kenwood’s explorer backpack, perfect for family outings. The grounds include London’s largest population of Pipistrelle bats (creepy and awesome!). Aside from the world-class art collection, the house itself is an architectural jewel, perfectly preserved as it was in the eighteenth century with graceful robin’s egg blue interiors, and neoclassical flourishes…a great place for Jane Austen fangirls to fantasize about Mr. Darcy in a wet shirt. 

Kenwood was featured as a location in the Julia Roberts/Hugh Grant rom-com Notting Hill (1999).  This was one of several London hotspots where Julia Roberts was “just a girl, standing in front of a boy [who was arrested for public sex with a hooker], asking him to love her.” Aw, romance!

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Kenwood House

Kenwood House (also known as the Iveagh Bequest) is a former stately home, in Hampstead, London, on the northern boundary of Hampstead Heath.

The house was originally constructed in the 17th century and served as a residence for the Earls of Mansfield through the 18th and 19th centuries. Part of the estate was bought by the Guinness family in the early 20th century, and the whole property and grounds came under ownership of the London County Council and was open to the public by the end of the 1920s. It remains a popular local tourist attraction.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Kenwood House.