Kenwood is one of the oldest outdoor music sites in the UK; first presenting commercial concerts within its grounds during the 1750’s, when Promenade (Proms) concerts first became popular in London’s pleasure gardens.
The site first began staging its well-known summer concerts annually from 1951, which continue to this day, forming a fascinating and historical timeline of the changing styles and tastes of popular music through the decades.
The concerts now provide an essential income stream for an estate that's legally bound not to charge entrance fees to visitors who wish to view its impressive art collection.
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