During the colder months, I always associate Sundays with walks through the park, an endless supply of tea and biscuits (why are Maryland cookies so moreish?!), a hearty roast dinner and some kind of period drama. It was a good way to break up study sessions and it’s the perfect way to relax these days.
When Vanessa and I were organising a catch up a few weeks ago, we both agreed that meeting up in Hampstead and exploring Kenwood House would make a lovely Sunday afternoon. With the original house being built back in the 17th century and most of the current house dating back to the later part of the 18th century, it ticked the period drama box in a bit of a different way, (largely through my imagination!)
We took a long walk through the Heath, talking life, work, and Instagram tips and tricks. It’s always fun to be around someone with similar interests and gets the whole – I have to take a photo of this – thing. As much as all of my friends are supportive of my interests (namely photography), it just means I don’t have to worry as much about getting distracted or going a bit quiet to concentrate.
After wondering if we’d taken the right path, we eventually spotted the house in the distance. It’s easily recognisable. Do you remember it from a scene in Notting Hill? You know, the one where they’re filming a period drama and Hugh Grant overhears Julia Roberts. Anyway, it’s been the backdrop for number of films and it’s easy to see why.
Set on the borders of Hampstead Heath (some 790 acres of green space), it has a pretty impressive back garden. Parts of the house date back over 300 years, where the house has grown from something quite modest to what you’ll find today.
It has had some wealthy residents over time and once housed servicemen during the Second World War. But from the 1986 its care was given to the English Heritage. It has had a few refurbishments over the time, but as much original detail as possible has been maintained. The surprising bit is that it’s completely free to enter. (You’all soon understand my disbelief at this.)
The entrance is essentially around the back, leaving the best views of the Heath to the windows out front. Right from the start I was picturing carriages and stately dress (my imagination fuelled no doubt by having recently watched Victoria.)
Greeted by some friendly hosts we wandered the house at our leisure.
I’ve come to love homes like this, the decor, the grandeur and the history just makes for a fascinating couple of hours.
We were immediately drawn upstairs.
Don’t you just love banisters like this? They remind me of the beautiful staircase in Queen’s House (which reopened this summer!).
It certainly looks fitting for both purposes. But I could have happily sat reading a book in such beautiful surroundings.
After much admiration of the library, we eventually moved on to other rooms.
Almost as opulent, but much more comfortable and cosy. A place you might hide away with your studies or an important piece of work.
I fell in love with almost every colour scheme. I usually find period homes a bit dark or a little gaudy in decor but the combinations here were almost perfect.
OK, maybe the chandeliers would look a little OTT in your average London flat or suburban home but they’re just so elegant.
Even the more modest staircase has its own charm.
After a good hour of exploring and taking pictures to our hearts’ content. We left the house still pondering how we were able to nosey around without paying a penny (of course donations are encouraged).
We took our thoughts with us to the charming tea room next door for tea and cake.
A pretty, perfect Sunday stroll.
Have you visited Kenwood House yet? Are there any places you’ve found that Vanessa and I should venture to next?
Kenwood House can be found here. It’s currently open all week, 10am to 4pm. We met at Hampstead Heath tube station on the Northern Line and walked up through the Heath, which took about 20 minutes.