In 2014, Victoria and I visited Kenwood House together, just one of many visits each of us have made to Kenwood before and since. What’s so special about Kenwood House? Situated in Hampstead Heath, Kenwood is one of the last examples of a private estate remaining in London.
Just inside the gate is this gardener’s cottage, but Kenwood House can boast rather more unique survivors of a bygone age in its grounds, including a bath house and dairy.
A flight of stairs lead to the baths themselves.
Just outside the baths, you’ll find these stairs and a doorway that leads to . . . . . the terrace at the rear of the house.
As you can see, the views were stunning and we decided to walk down to the dairy before touring the house.
On the way, we encountered several others strolling the grounds, including the cutie below, whose name, we learned, was Duke. Really. Not even kidding. Duke.
Around to the front entrance
The classical portico, added by Robert Adam for William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield
The walking the path leading to the Dairy
Kenwood became what would be described in 1838 as ‘beyond all question, the finest country residence in the suburbs of London’. Tending a dairy was then a fashionable hobby for aristocratic women, following the example of the French queen Marie Antoinette. But such dairies were still functional, and the one at Kenwood would have supplied the house with butter, milk and cream, while ice was stored in the ice-house below.
Now, after restoration, the three dairy buildings can be appreciated once again: the small, colourfully decorated octagonal tea room, where Louisa entertained her friends, the rooms where the dairymaid lived, and the dairy room. The original marble benches in the dairy room are still here, although the more than 30 black marble milk pans and basins listed in the accounts are missing.
By this time, we were both a bit peckish, so we decided to walk back to the cafe for lunch before touring the house.
Roses in the Brewhouse Restaurant garden
“Hey, Vic,” I said through a mouthful of clotted cream once we’d been served.
“I have something to say to you and I want you to look me in the eye while I say it.”
“Is it something bad?”
“Non. It’s something good. You ready?”
“Here we are. Together. In London. At Kenwood House.”
Victoria grinned at me. “I know. It’s terrific. Alone together in England. Like minded travelers wallowing in British history.”
“We can overdose on 19th century Britain and Wellington to our hearts content.”
I’m not certain, but I think it was at this point that Victoria and I clapped our hands together and laughed with childlike glee.
Before long, we struck up a conversation with a really nice lady named Frances. The three of us walked outside and continued the conversation, talking about where Frances had been in the U.S. and where we’d been in England. Then I handed her our Number One London business card, which prompted Frances to tell us that she loved historical research, herself being a direct descendant of architect James Wyatt. Which prompted even more discussion, as you may well imagine.
Finally, Victoria and I entered the house and were greeted by two volunteer docents, who welcomed us warmly and asked us if this was our first visit to Kenwood House. Victoria told the young man that she’d been to the house before and had also seen the traveling exhibit of its artwork when it showed in Milwaukee. Which led to more discussion and mention of our blog. I handed him our card.
“I know this site,” he said. “It’s great.”
Victoria and I glanced at each other. Was he having us on?
“I have a blog about London, too. The Lost Valley of London. I travel round London and shoot videos of out of the way places and my adventures.”
This jogged my memory. “Wait a minute,” I said, “I know your site. You wear a pith helmet, right?” Really, what were the odds that Anthony and I should meet at Kenwood House? All of this led to more discussion and mutual admiration, which lasted another few minutes.
We did, finally, tour the house and for that part of our visit I hand you over to Victoria, who will be bringing you Part Two of our day at Kenwood House soon.
You can see Kenwood House up close and personal on