Kenwood House is the longest-running outdoor music venue in the UK, beginning annual summer concerts in 1951. However, its long association with outdoor music can be traced back very much further - to the 1750’s when Promenade (Proms) Concerts first became popular in London’s outdoor pleasure gardens.
The origins of a stately home on the northernmost part of Hampstead Heath began in the early 17th Century and its architectural evolution over a 400 year period, from a grand neoclassical villa to its current Georgian splendour, makes Kenwood House a culturally unique example of London's aristocratic heritage. In 1754, it was bought by William Murray, the first in a long line of Earls of Mansfield who lived at Kenwood for almost 200 years, until in 1925 it was bought by Lord Iveagh, a member of the Irish Guinness family who furnished it with one of the most important art collections in the UK - featuring works by Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Vermeer and Reynolds. Upon his death in 1927, Iveagh left the house and grounds to the State, stipulating that the public must not be charged a fee to view his treasured art collection. It's now maintained and cared for by English Heritage.
One third of the estate is a site of unique scientific interest, particularly the ancient woodlands which are home to many rare birds and insects and the well-tended, landscaped grounds contain world-famous sculptures by Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore. This gem of London (and indeed of the whole nation), provides a perfect backdrop to Heritage Live’s summer concerts.
Hampstead Lane, Hampstead Heath, London NW3 7JR