Outing to Kenwood House (Derek Purchese)
11th May was a glorious day and perfect for a short journey around the North Circular Road to Hampstead Heath to view the excellent 17th century former stately home, Kenwood House, set in its own extensive grounds.
On arrival we disembarked at the main entrance and had a leisurely stroll to the house. En route we were treated to a beautiful floral display including rhododendrons and camellias all in their full glory. The landscape, with the gardens close to the house, was designed by Humphry Repton.
At the house we were greeted by very helpful and knowledgeable staff who directed us for the best effect.
The artwork was a bequest by Lord Iveagh (of the Guinness family) and left to the nation upon his death in 1927. Amongst its most famous artworks are paintings by Vermeer, Gainsborough, Turner and Rembrandt. There was also a room displaying amongst other artefacts an outstanding collection of miniatures and buckles, but the pride of place must go to the Library with its amazing ceiling art and strategically placed mirrors allowing full benefit from the light emanating from the candles - a truly outstanding room.
There was a small gift shop on site for mementos and food was readily available from the restaurant, which included a rather scrumptious cream tea!
Adjacent to the "alfresco" eating area was the Bathing Room and although not open to the public could be viewed by a quick wipe of the grimy window. Inside one could see the large circular bath which could accommodate several bathers at a time. How one got from the Bathing Room to the main house in the winter needs some imagination.
Further afield there was a short walk to the "Thousand Pound Pond". Although no definite reason was given for the origin of this name, one can only assume this was the cost of building it. With this in mind the "bridge" spanning it should be referred to as "The Ten Bob Bridge"!
At 4.00 pm sadly we had to leave and the journey back to Buckhurst Hill took twice as long due to the heavy traffic of the NCR, but the coach driver did a sterling job. Thank you to him and all those involved in organising this trip. Another very successful outing and greatly appreciated.