A striking neoclassical villa on the edge of Hampstead Heath, a former stately home, is now proudly a part of
We chose this remarkable survival of an 18th-century gentleman’s estate as a highlight of our summer program for various reasons of its significance. It's served as a seat for the aristocratic Murray and Guinness families and had various tenants. Welcome to our tour on Saturday, the 18th of August at 13:00-15:30 with Sanela Tomlinson, followed by networking in the garden cafe — learn more and book.
Wish to have a quality day out with friends, family or colleagues — book a private tour with us
1. Robert Adam’s Masterpiece had a WOW-effect on noble guests.
The library or Great Room at Kenwood was built between 1767 and 1770 by Robert Adam and his craftsmen. It is one of the most famous of Adam's neoclassical interiors and represents the grand climax of the guest route through the house. Adam proudly illustrated it in 1774 in The Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam and explained how 'the great room, with its anti-room was begun by Lord Mansfield's orders in the year 1767 and was intended both for a library and a room for receiving company.' The unusual shape of the room — a double cube with semicircular apses and a coved ceiling — was inspired by Adam's interest in antiquity and by his travels in Italy the ceiling in particular ' n the form and style of those of the ancients, and his studies during the Grand Tour to Croatia and Italy.
The ceiling is decorated with a series of 19 oil paintings on paper by Antonio Zucchi. The scheme was probably devised collectively by the artist, architect and patron. The central image shows the choice of the semi-god Hercules between Glory and the Passions - a subject alluding to the wise judgement of the patron, Lord Mansfield, other panels contain symbolic figures of Theology, Jurisprudence, Mathematics and Philosophy. We wish to tell more during the tour to this beautiful sight.
2. The man who built this house as we now see it was “the legal genius of his generation”.
William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield (1705 - 1793) was a British barrister, politician and judge noted for his reform of English law. Born to Scottish nobility, he was educated in Perth, Scotland, before moving to London at the age of 13 to study. In 1742 was involved in politics and was a Member or Parliament. Lord Mansfield With became Attorney General and Chief Justice in 1745.
The most powerful British jurist of the century, his decisions reflected the Age of Enlightenment and moved England on the path to abolishing slavery and the slave trade. He advanced commercial law in ways that helped establish the nation as the world leader in industry, finance and trade. He modernised both English law and the English courts system.
Famous case: Somerset case!
22 June 1772 Somerset v Stewart. This case marked a pivotal moment in the fight to abolish slavery in Britain. We will talk more about it during the tour.
3. The house had a famous Russian tenant — grandson of Tsar Nicholas I and was bought by the richest man in Scotland.
In the early 20th century, Kenwood was let out to tenants including the Grand Duke Michael Michaelovitch of Russia, grandson of Tsar Nicholas I. By 1910, the 6th Earl of Mansfield had decided to sell Kenwood. The house was bought by Edward Cecil Guinness, Ist Earl of lveagh, and became home to part of his collection of paintings. The house is now in the care of English Heritage and has recently been restored, allowing visitors to appreciate the collection in a more authentic 18th-century setting.
Edward Cecil Guinness (1847 – 1927) was an Irish philanthropist and businessman. Lord Iveagh was the owner and chief executive of the Guinness (beer company), when the company went public, sold in stock market, he became of the richest man in UK at the time.
He was an important art collector and much of his collection of paintings (63) was donated to the nation after his death in 1927 and is housed at the Iveagh Bequest at Kenwood, Hampstead, north London. During the tour we are going to talk about 12 most important paintings in this collection.
Sources: English Heritage, Kenwood, The Iveagh Bequest, Step into England’s Story