Hang Out in Historic Hampstead

Shows a photograph of a modern art installation. There are lots of coloured pillars of light lining an otherwise empty room.

Pedro Cabrita Reis, Scent, 2004. Courtesy of the artist and Haunch of Venison, London

The ten Discover London Trails were developed by London’s Smaller Museums and Galleries Group with support from ALM London (Archives Libraries and Museums London). Covering different regions of the capital, they link smaller museums and galleries with other attractions of interest in half and full day trails.

Trail summary

You begin in Hampstead Lane on the edge of Hampstead Heath at Kenwood House, a stunning neo-classical mansion – and star of many a film and period drama – with its magnificent painting collection.

Shows a photograph of a cream-painted neo-classical mansion.

Kenwood House

From here, you walk over the Heath and along winding streets to visit Fenton House a charming William and Mary merchant house. Then on to the Hampstead Museum within Burgh House, a Grade I-listed building in the heart of the village.

Next stop and well worth making the effort for is the very unusual National Trust property, 2 Willow Road, a 1930’s modernist house designed by Erno Goldfinger for his family home. Keats House, home and inspiration for the poet Keats, is close by.

Shows a black and white photograph of a man wearing a three piece suit and tie. He has a left-side parting in his slicked back hair as well as a grey beard and moustache. He is holding a pocket watch on a chain in his left hand.

Sigmund Freud, 1914. Photo: Max Halberstadt © Freud Museum

Strolling back into the centre of Hampstead, try out one of the lovely pubs mentioned within the detail of the trail or walk to the Freud Museum – take a bus if you prefer - for a fascinating insight into the life of Sigmund Freud.

While in the area, engage your artistic talents at the recently renovated Camden Arts Centre and try out its new café. A tube from Finchley Road will take you back into the centre of town.

Shows a painting entitled The Guitar Player by Johannes Vermeer. It depicts a young lady sitting in front of a painting, playing a guitar.

The Guitar Player by Jan Vermeer (1632-75). Photo: Jonathen Bailey © English Heritage Photo Library

Trail in detail

Begin the trail at Archway or Golders Green Underground stations and take the 210 bus to Kenwood House, a stunning neo-classical mansion featuring Lord Iveah’s magnificent collection of Old Master paintings such as Portrait of the Artist by Rembrandt, the Guitar Player by Vermeer as well as works by Turner, Reynolds and Gainsborough.

Shows a photograph of Kenwood House in north London. A vast white villa, the house sits behind a gentle slope of grass, in front of which is a lake, bordered by trees.

The original brick house at Kenwood was remodelled in the 18th century by Robert Adam (1764-1779), who transformed it into a majestic villa © English Heritage Photo Library.

Set in 112 acres of landscaped grounds high on the edge of Hampstead Heath, the house was transformed from a simple brick house into a majestic villa by the famous architect, Robert Adam.

The magnificent estate has sculptures by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. The Brew House café is very popular for its homemade food and cakes. A regular programme of activities takes place in the house and there is also an annual programme of lakeside concerts and fireworks.

Shows a photograph of a 17th century merchant's house. It is red brick and symmetrical with lots of white-framed windows.

South Front of Fenton House © NTPL/Mathew Antrobus

Walking towards the centre of Hampstead (or take a bus), you will come to Fenton House a charming William and Mary merchant’s house built in 1693 with fine wrought iron gates at its entrance. Set in winding streets, this, the oldest mansion in Hampstead village, contains an outstanding collection of porcelain largely accumulated by Lady Binning who bequeathed the house and its contents to the National Trust in 1952.

A specialised collection of Benton-Fletcher early keyboard instruments, most in working order, includes a harpsichord dating from 1612, said to have been played by Handel. The delightful walled garden includes fine displays of roses, an orchard and a working kitchen garden.

Nearby is a timeless beautifully maintained old pub The Holly Bush, in its own little square Holly Mount. It can be reached on foot up a flight of stone steps between 73 and 75 Heath Street, opposite the tube.

Shows a photograph of a harpsichord.

This harpsichord is reputed to have been owned by Handel and was made in 1612 by Ioannes Ruckers. On loan to National Trust Fenton House from HM the Queen © NTPL/John Hammond

In the heart of Hampstead very close to the Underground station is Burgh House. It is a handsome Queen Anne House originally built in 1703 but taking its name from the Reverend Allatson Burgh, a 19th century resident.

Dr William Gibbons, chief physician to the Hampstead spa lived in the house in the 1720s; and more recently it was home to the son-in-law of the late Rudyard Kipling. Since 1979, the independent Burgh House Trust has run the house as the Hampstead Museum, illustrating the history of the area.

Shows a photograph of a wood panelled room with a wooden floor. On the right is an open fireplace. At the far end is a window with a plant on either side.

Music Room, Burgh House © Burgh House

There is a room entirely devoted to the life of the famous artist, John Constable; other areas include insights into Lawrence, Keats and the artists Stanley Spencer – among the many creative geniuses who lived and worked in the area. Highlights include a wonderfully carved staircase and a music room reconstructed in 1920. Refreshments from the basement café can be enjoyed on the terrace overlooking the pretty garden.

Shows a photograph of a block of flats.

Exterior from the street of 2 Willow Road © NTPL/Dennis Gilbert

It will take approximately 10 minutes (uphill) to walk to the very interesting National Trust property 2 Willow Road, designed and built in 1939 by Erno Goldfinger as his family home.

In the centre of a terrace of three, the house is one of Britain’s most important examples of Modernist architecture and is filled with furniture that was also designed by Goldfinger. The art collection includes a number of significant British and European 20th-century works by Bridget Riley, Max Ernst and Henry Moore.

Shows a photograph of a red and grey chair designed by Goldfinger.

Chair designed by Erno Goldfinger at 2 Willow Road © NTPL/Dennis Gilbert

Close by is Keats House. Now one house, this was originally two lovely Regency semi-detached cottages, one of which was the home of the poet John Keats (1795-1821) where he spent his most productive years as a poet between 1818 and 1820.

Shows a photograph of a white-painted regency town house.

Keats House

The celebrated poem Ode to a Nightingale was written under a plum tree in the garden. His fiancée Fanny Brawne lived in the house next door. Opened to the public in 1925, largely due to the poet’s American fans, the house displays books, manuscripts, letters, prints, paintings and artefacts relating to the life of the poet.

Shows a photograph of large town house. It is a symmetrical red-brick building with lots of white framed windows. There is a low hedge marking the front border of the property.

Freud Museum © Freud Museum

Walk back into the centre of Hampstead for refreshment, or towards Finchley Road (also accessible by buses 268 or 46) to The Freud Museum. This was home to Sigmund Freud and his family when they escaped from Nazi-occupied Vienna in 1938.

The family recreated the atmosphere of Freud’s Vienna consulting rooms with the possessions they brought with them. After he died in 1939, Freud’s daughter Anna – a pioneer of psychoanalysis – kept the house as it was until she died in 1982.

Shows a photograph of a chaise longue covered in what look like Persian rugs and red and gold cushions.

Freud's psychoanalytic counch © Freud Museum

The house was opened as a museum dedicated to Freud in 1986. It retains the atmosphere of a family home, with much of the original furniture and personal effects – including a remarkable collection of antiques and a fine collection of 18th and 19th century Austrian painted furniture.

The centrepiece of the museum is Freud’s library and his study, preserved just as it was in his lifetime with is famous couch and desk. The museum is now being developed as a cultural and research centre of outstanding value to the professional community.

Shows a photograph of a brightly coloured painting of a woman lying on her back. The artist has used mainly reds, and pinks, oranges and browns in the painting.

Francis Picabia, La Rêve de Suzanne. Courtesy of Micheline Swajcer, Antwerp

Finally if you are feeling creative, call into Camden Arts Centre where you can actively engage with art, artists and ideas through a challenging programme of exhibitions.

From November 24 2004 to February 6 2005 an exhibition of paintings by Francis Picabia will go on show. At the same time new work by Pedro Cabrita Reis called Stillness will be displayed in galleries one and three.

The Discover London Trails were created by the Campaign for Museums and supported by ALM London.

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