BUILDING OF THE MONTH – KENWOOD HOUSE

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My first ‘building of the month’ blog is a throw back to a building I had the pleasure of working on a few years ago.

I’ve started with an oldie (but a goodie!) because I have a history of conservation and because I believe that the conservation work to this house has been impressively done, something that, unfortunately, can’t always be said.

This beautiful and little-known manor house north of London has some pretty spectacular views of the city from its grounds and is a perfect location for a quintessentially English day out.

The house is of brick and render construction and stands on the edge of Hamstead Heath. Thought to have been originally built in the early 16th century, it has been remodelled and extended over time and its current form is considered to be mostly due to the major renovation work which took place between 1767-1768 by the then renowned Architect Robert Adam.

The English Heritage Trust has invested a lot of money caring for and conserving this building and have worked with a variety of conservation specialists to restore aspects of the house to its former glory.

Along with its year by year conservation projects, a major project was completed in 2013 and included restoring the great library, which is pretty magnificent in its nature and well worth a peek at if you go.

Among the multiple specialists who worked with the English Heritage Trust are the London based Architectural practice Carden & Godfrey who were involved in the 2013 works and Lincoln Conservation (the conservation department within Lincoln University), who were used, amongst other things, to analyse plaster samples so that the make-up of any new plaster could be matched as closely as possible to the original.

The grounds of this building are extensive and are used to enhance the setting of the house, which sits secluded on one elevation and dominant on another; overlooking the heathland below.

There are established manicured gardens, parkland and woodland and if you are able to roam for long enough you will come across some of the collection’s sculptures, which include works by well-known artists such as Barbara Hepworth and (a personal favourite of mine) Henry Moore.

For parents out there, it has great grounds for running around in, a buggy friendly path with great views, a couple of cafés (the scones are their best feature in my opinion!) and a room with dress-up for silliness!

It’s an easy drive (although the paid carpark isn’t huge, there is on-street free and paid parking on the neighbouring streets) or it’s a short bus journey from Archway or Golders Green tube.

It’s well worth a visit, and best of all this is one of English Heritage’s free entry sites!

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