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Tuesday 30 April 2019

Kenwood - a Regency History guide

Kenwood House (2014)
Kenwood (2014)
Kenwood is a stunning neoclassical villa on Hampstead Heath in London. You may recognise its beautiful white fa├žade from one of my favourite films, Notting Hill, where it is the backdrop for the Henry James film that Anna Scott (played by Julia Roberts) is shooting. It also appears in Mansfield Park (1999) starring Frances O’Connor, and Belle (2014) starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Belle is based on the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (1761-1804), the illegitimate, mixed-race great niece of Lord Chief Justice William Murray, Earl of Mansfield, who once lived there. Kenwood also boasts some of architect Robert Adam’s best work.

William Murray, Earl of Mansfield (1705-1793)

William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield  from a miniature on display in Kenwood House
William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield
from a miniature on display in Kenwood (2019)
The first house at Kenwood was built in the early 17th century. In 1746, the estate was bought by John Stuart, 3rd Earl Bute, who added the orangery. He sold Kenwood to lawyer William Murray in 1754. Two years later, Murray became Lord Chief Justice and received a barony, thereby becoming Lord Mansfield, the name by which he is better known. Lord Mansfield is famous for his legal judgements which aided the abolition of slavery, in particular, the Somerset case of 1772. He lived in a house in Bloomsbury during the week and spent the weekends at Kenwood. In 1776, he was made Earl of Mansfield.

Dido Elizabeth Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray from a replica   of the painting by David Martin (c1778) on display in Kenwood House.   The original hangs in Scone Palace, Scotland.
Dido Elizabeth Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray from a replica
of the painting by David Martin (c1778) on display in Kenwood.
The original hangs in Scone Palace, Scotland.
Lord Mansfield and his wife Lady Elizabeth Finch (1704-84) had no children. However, from about 1766, Kenwood became home to three of Lord Mansfield’s relations – his niece, Anne Murray, the sister of his heir, David Murray, 7th Viscount Stormont; Elizabeth Murray, Viscount Stormont’s daughter by his first marriage; and Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate, mixed-race daughter of another of Lord Mansfield’s nephews, Sir John Lindsay. 

Kenwood from The Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam (1773)
Kenwood from The Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam (1773)
Between 1767 and 1779, Lord Mansfield employed Robert Adam and his brother James to remodel Kenwood. Adam built the library on the east side to counterbalance the orangery already existing on the west, achieving a neoclassical symmetry on the south front overlooking the park. He also designed the new north front with its pillared portico. Adam remodelled and redecorated the interiors using master craftsmen such as Joseph Rose and Antonio Zucchi. The library is reckoned to be one of Adam’s masterpieces and I would agree – it is an amazing room, worth just whiling away some time in.

The library, Kenwood House (2019)
The library, Kenwood (2019)
During the Gordon Riots of 1780, Lord Mansfield became a target for anti-Catholic sentiment. He was known for his Catholic sympathies and his Scottish descent led people to suspect him of Jacobite sympathies too. Lord Mansfield’s London home was attacked, and his legal library destroyed. Fortunately, Lord Stormont was able to use the militia to deter the mob from descending on Kenwood, diverting their attention by offering them refreshments at the nearby Spaniards Inn.

Toll gate house, Spaniards Gate (left) and Spaniards Inn,  less than half a mile from Kenwood House, Hampstead
Toll gate house, Spaniards Gate (left) and Spaniards Inn (right),
less than half a mile from Kenwood, Hampstead (2019)
David Murray, 7th Viscount Stormont and 2nd Earl of Mansfield (1727-96)

Viscount Stormont inherited Kenwood from his uncle in 1793. He employed architect Robert Nasmith, and later George Saunders, to make improvements to the house. He added a music room, decorated by Julius Caesar Ibbetson, and service wings including a new dairy. He diverted Hampstead Lane away from the house to gain more privacy and commissioned Humphry Repton to landscape the grounds. Repton’s designs for Kenwood appear in his Red Book of before and after pictures in 1793.

The sham bridge, Kenwood (2019)
The bridge - picturesque but sham, Kenwood (2019)
David William Murray, 3rd Earl of Mansfield (1777-1840)

The third earl carried out some necessary work at Kenwood but spent most of his time at his Scottish seat of Scone Palace. He entertained William IV with a grand luncheon at Kenwood in 1835.

Later history

Like his father, the fourth earl, William David Murray (1806-1898) also preferred Scone Palace but he spent three months of the year at Kenwood. His son, another William David Murray (1860-1906) loved to entertain at Kenwood but on his sudden death in 1906, his brother Alan David Murray (1864-1935) inherited and as he preferred Scone Palace, Kenwood was leased to tenants.

The sixth earl planned to sell Kenwood for redevelopment and sold off the contents by auction in 1922. Edward Cecil Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh, was a Hampstead resident at this time. He took out a lease on Kenwood in 1924 and his family trust then bought the house and the remaining land. Lord Iveagh bequeathed Kenwood to the nation and it became an independent museum which is now managed by English Heritage.

What you can see today

Kenwood is open to visitors and offers free admission. It is well worth a visit. Although the original contents were sold, Kenwood is full of works of art bequeathed by Lord Iveagh, including both Old Masters and Georgian portraits.

The north front

The north front, Kenwood (2019)
The north front, Kenwood (2019)
The portico of the north front, Kenwood (2019)
The portico of the north front, Kenwood (2019)
 The south front

The south front, Kenwood (2019)
The south front, Kenwood (2019)
Detail of the south front, Kenwood (2019)
Detail of the south front, Kenwood (2019)
The entrance hall

Entrance hall, Kenwood (2019)
Entrance hall, Kenwood (2019)
Entrance hall ceiling, Kenwood (2019)
Entrance hall ceiling, Kenwood (2019)
The great staircase

The great staircase, Kenwood (2019)
The great staircase, Kenwood (2019)
The antechamber

The antechamber, Kenwood (2019)
The antechamber, Kenwood (2019)
The library

The library, Kenwood House (2019)
The library, Kenwood (2019)
The library ceiling, Kenwood House (2019)
The library ceiling, Kenwood (2019)
 The dining room

The dining room, Kenwood House (2019)
The dining room, Kenwood (2019)
 The breakfast room

The breakfast room, Kenwood House (2019)
The breakfast room, Kenwood (2019)
The orangery

The orangery, Kenwood House (2019)
The orangery, Kenwood (2019)
The green room

The green room, Kenwood (2019)
The green room, Kenwood (2019)
The music room

The music room, Kenwood (2019)
The music room, Kenwood (2019)
Mrs Jordan by John Hoppner in the music room, Kenwood (2019)
Actress Mrs Jordan by John Hoppner
in the music room, Kenwood (2019)
 The upper hall

Adam fireplace in the upper hall, Kenwood (2019)
Adam fireplace in the upper hall, Kenwood (2019)
The miniatures room

Miniatures cabinet, Kenwood (2019)
Miniatures cabinet, Kenwood (2019)
Miniature of Earl Grey in the Miniatures cabinet, Kenwood (2019)
Miniature of Earl Grey in the miniatures room, Kenwood (2019)
The bath house

The restored 18th century cold bath, Kenwood (2014)
The restored 18th century cold bath, Kenwood (2014)
Last visited March 2019.

Headshot of Rachel Knowles author with sea in background(2021)
Rachel Knowles writes clean/Christian Regency era romance and historical non-fiction. She has been sharing her research on this blog since 2011. Rachel lives in the beautiful Georgian seaside town of Weymouth, Dorset, on the south coast of England, with her husband, Andrew.

Find out more about Rachel's books and sign up for her newsletter here.

If you have enjoyed this blog and want to encourage me and help me to keep making my research freely available, please buy me a virtual cup of coffee by clicking the button below.

Sources used include:
Houliston, Laura and Jenkins, Susan, Kenwood, The Iveagh Bequest (English Heritage, 2014)

All photos ©

Monday 8 April 2019

Be More Jane blog tour - an interview with author Sophie Andrews

Front cover of Be More Jane by Sophie Andrews

I first met Sophie Andrews at the Jane Austen Festival 2014 Regency Promenade in Bath. We were both taking part in the parade for the first time and were very excited to meet Adrian Lukis aka Mr Wickham from the BBC’s superb 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. It was a real pleasure to see that a passion for Jane Austen and her works had reached the next generation.

Joana Starnes, Rachel Knowles and Sophie Andrews at Jane Austen Promenade Bath 2014
Joana Starnes, Rachel Knowles and Sophie Andrews
at the Jane Austen Festival Grand Promenade Bath (2014)
I am delighted to be able to weclome Sophie to my blog today in support of her literary adventure – a book entitled Be More Jane which is, unsurprisingly, all about Jane Austen and the inspiration her writing can be to us today. Be More Jane is a beautifully illustrated little gift book, ideal for Janeites. It is full of Jane Austen’s wisdom and some light-hearted sections drawn from Jane Austen’s novels such as The perfect way to catch a husband! - according to Miss Lydia Bennet.

Giveaway of Be More Jane

Thank you for all the wonderful quotes and comments on my blog. I found it too hard to choose and so asked my daughter Abi to pick. The winner of the copy of Be More Jane is Romancing Romances with a quote from Northanger Abbey:
Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love.
An interview with Sophie Andrews

Sophie Andrews © Brian Hubbard
Sophie Andrews © Brian Hubbard
Thank you, Rachel, for welcoming me here today and for starting my blog tour! It has been such an exciting journey, writing Be More Jane, and it feels wonderful, if nerve-wracking, to be finally sharing it with others!

What inspired you to write Be More Jane?

I had been toying with the idea of a book for a little while, but I could never decide exactly what to focus on, or how to go about it, so it remained just as an idea at the back of my mind, for a future date perhaps. But then, out of the blue last summer, I received an email from CICO books, enquiring whether I had ever thought of writing a book! As well as being very surprised and rather flattered, this persuaded me to go for it and gave me the impetus to begin planning! It was talking through my ideas with my publishers at CICO Books that gave me confidence and finally convinced me that perhaps after all, I could have a go at writing my book. 

I really like the line: ‘Some people tell a good story, but it takes time to establish the truth.’ I think there’s a lot of truth in that. In the long run, character beats charisma every time. What is your favourite quote from Be More Jane and why?

Such a hard question! I have included so many favourite Jane Austen quotes in Be More Jane, and there are many more I didn't have room for! One of my favourites would be ‘Where shall we see a better daughter, or a kinder sister, or a truer friend?’ which I use in the chapter Jane on Brothers and Sisters. I have one older sister myself and we have always been close, very much like Jane and Lizzy Bennet. Seeing the many sibling relationships that are included within Austen's novels (some of them unhappy ones), as well as reading about Jane's relationship with her own brothers and sister, makes me appreciate my own sister. In times of trouble, a sister is often your best friend. (And, as I say in my book, I am sure brothers are great too!)

Jane Odiwe’s illustrations are beautiful. I really like the picture of the Cobb in Lyme Regis, just along the coast from where I live in Dorset. Which is your favourite and why?

Aren't they stunning? I was so pleased to be able to recommend Jane for the illustrations, as she is a good friend and I have always loved her artwork. I know she is knowledgeable of both the books and the Regency era and was confident she would create beautiful, historically accurate images with a classic feel that would complement my style of writing - and she did not disappoint. In fact, Jane exceeded my expectations with her bright colours and thoughtful scenes. Choosing just one favourite is impossible! I simply can't, sorry! I am particularly fond of the front cover artwork. Jane informed me she had drawn the image with me in mind - a brunette - and wearing a blue dress!

I feel the drawings fall into two categories - landscapes and character-based scenes - so I can perhaps narrow it down to a favourite from each. Landscapes: I think my favourite has to be the Sunrise at Box Hill. I adore the morning colours and the serenity of the scene. Characters: I think it has to be Lizzy walking to Netherfield Park, her hem 'six inches deep in mud'! This scene really resonates with me - I have muddied my hem many a time! I also love Netherfield in the background, based on Basildon Park. This National Trust house was used as Netherfield in the 2005 film, and it is near to where I live, so I have many happy memories there.
Emma Woodhouse paints a portrait  of Harriet by Jane Odiwe © CICO Books
Emma Woodhouse paints a portrait of Harriet by Jane Odiwe
 from Be More Jane by Sophie Andrews © CICO Books
You mention the only known proposal of marriage that Jane Austen received, from her friends’ brother, Harris Bigg-Wither. What do you think prompted her to originally accept his proposal? And why do you think she changed her mind?

Of course, in Austen's time, the need to marry was paramount. We see this truth reflected often in her novels, a prime example being Mrs Bennet, who is very aware of the need to find husbands for her five daughters. Some would say she is a little too enthusiastic! Jane Austen would of course have understood the importance and the security which an advantageous marriage would bring her and, especially after the death of her father, the need to secure a comfortable future for herself, her mother and her sister. However, she was also a very strong-minded woman who wrote about heroines who do not conform to society. They will marry, only if it is for love, and not because society demands it or their father has arranged it. 

Therefore, I feel that she would also have wished this for herself. She did not want to tie herself to a loveless marriage. This is why I think she first accepted, only later to refuse; I believe the security this marriage could have brought to her family would have played heavily on her mind and initially persuaded her to accept, only later to then mull it over and really think about what she wanted for herself. And that was not to become Mrs Bigg-Wither. It was such a brave decision, but one I do not think she will have regretted. I am glad she turned him down; had she married, I do not think we would have the 6 amazing novels, the unfinished works and all the delights she gave us. She would have been too busy keeping house and becoming a mother, as she would undoubtedly have been expected to produce an heir. 

Lizzy Bennet on her tour of Pemberley by Jane Odiwe   from Be More Jane by Sophie Andrews © CICO Books
Lizzy Bennet on her tour of Pemberley by Jane Odiwe
 from Be More Jane by Sophie Andrews © CICO Books
What is the best piece of advice for you personally that you have gleaned from Jane Austen’s writing?

Again, I have taken so much from Austen in all aspects of my life - well, that's what my book is about! But I think one of the most important pieces of advice is what I touch on in Jane on Self-Belief: ‘Laugh as much as you choose, but you will not laugh me out of my opinion.’ I went through many of my younger years hiding my true self and pretending to be someone I wasn't. I even hid my love for Jane Austen from most people for quite a while too! But Austen taught me to be proud of who you are, and an ‘obstinate, headstrong girl’ if necessary - which I certainly can be at times! Now I am not afraid to tell anybody and everybody how much of a Janeite I am. 

Thank you again so much for letting me pop into your blog, and for some great interview questions. And now I really hope you all enjoy my book, Be More Jane!

CICO books are giving away a copy of Be More Jane on every blog in Sophie's blog tour, so be sure to follow the blog tour for more chances to win. 

Be More Jane blog tour poster

About Be More Jane

Are you more Marianne than Elinor, Lydia rather than Lizzy? Be More Jane will teach you to address life with more sense and less prejudice, taking useful lessons from the novels and letters of Jane Austen, one of the world’s best-loved writers. Times may change, but many of our problems remain the same. Sophie Andrews, a young Janeite, knows from personal experience that in times of trouble, or just on matters of friendship, family, and love, answers are to be found in the pages of Miss Austen’s novels.

About Sophie

Sophie Andrews is a founder member of the Jane Austen Pineapple Appreciation Society, and organises events such as picnics, balls and house parties for her fellow Austenites. Sophie started her blog, Laughing with Lizzie, in 2012, aged 16, after studying Pride and Prejudice at school. She has been attending Austen-themed events since then, and was featured in the BBC documentary My Friend Jane which focused on the fun and friendship she has found with her fellow Janeites. She lives in Berkshire and has over 100 different editions of Pride and Prejudice on her bookshelves.

Find Sophie on social media:

Laughing with Lizzie Facebook page

Be More Jane: Bring out your inner Austen to meet life’s challenges by Sophie Andrews
Illustrations by Jane Odiwe © CICO Books
Buy Be More Jane on /