The Kenwood Estate - HAMPSTEAD HEATH - 2016***

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The Kenwood Estate

Kenwood, known initially as Caen Wood, was owned by the monastic orders from the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries.

It became "Royal" after this period.

In 1616, the Wood was bought by a royal printer, John Bill, who built the first house.

Initially, Kenwood's cultivated area commenced as an early 18th century formal garden.

There are, however, records of it as early as 1745.

The grounds cover just over 111 acres.

Bought by the Earl of Ilay in the early eighteenth century, the property was let to a George Middleton.

He was responsible for the famous Kenwood Lime Avenue, in 1726, which is a continuation of the terrace at the bottom of the garden.

The trees of the Avenue are clones of the eighteenth century originals, which were felled in 1960.

It was further developed by the First Earl of Mansfield, ( as shown in John Wooton's painting of 1755 ), thence reshaped by the 2nd Earl of Mansfield in the early 1790s and then completed, with an underlying design by Humphrey Repton, by the 3rd Earl.

Repton designed the landscaped areas so that they could be seen from a planned circuit walk.

There are farm, dairy, stables, kitchen garden, lakes, woods and meadows to be seen and the original design was maintained until the 1950s.

The whole is bordered on three sides by Hampstead Heath.

The Kenwood Estate, however, has a much different character to the rest of The Heath.

There are sloping lawns and two magnificent lakes.

There is a walled garden and an Ivy Arch leads  from the flower garden to a raised area with magnificent views of the lakes.

The West Lawn, beside the formal garden, is built on the site of the eighteenth century kitchen garden.

This was replaced with a flower garden.

In turn, the flower garden was replaced in 1964-1965 by the present lawn.

Barbara Hepworth's "Monolith Empyrean" is at the west part of the lawn.

In this part of the garden can be found a small concrete slab, which is the remains of Dr. Johnson's Summerhouse.

The ornamental garden. at the side of Kenwood House features a lawn, bordered with rhododendron and azaleas, which bloom gloriously around May time.

At the edge of the formal garden is a "Handkerchief Tree" (Davidia involucrata), so called because its white creamy blooms resemble folded handkerchiefs.

Most of the inner and outer circuit walks, over the Stone Bridge and through the North Wood and original Ken Wood (Caen Wood), follow the original planning.

Beyond the gardens, the path continues west and then divides, one fork going south and around The Wood Pond and "One Thousand Pound Pond, where Swamp Cypress can be seen in the meadow.

Here, there is a rare Elm species (Zelkovaserrata) which has magnificent red, orange and yellow colours in the autumn.

The other path leads to West Meadow, which blooms with white Pignut in the late Spring and then with the glorious pink of Yorkshire Fog.

The West Meadow path pursues the parish boundary between Hampstead and St Pancras parishes, marked with 19th century boundary stones (which replaced the ancient hedge and ditch boundary in 1845).

The park has rougher grass than the lawn and there are groves of trees, with further scattered specimens and clumps, including oak, beech, copper beech and birch.

At the junction above, behind a fence in the corner of the lawn,
is a large bronze sculpture by Henry Moore (Two Piece Reclining Figure, 1963-1964).

The West Meadow Path crosses the junction of the path to The Dairy and then proceeds on to the Westfield Gate entrance.

The Brew House Garden, on the other side of The House was designed by Arabella Lennox-Boyd.

The Brew House Garden, on the other side of The House was designed by Arabella Lennox-Boyd.

Just beyond the Stable Gate entrance to Kenwood is a two-storey, double-fronted brick lodge, Mansion Lodge, about 1795, beyond which is the service wing and outbuildings, which are at a lower level to the terrace and approached down a flight of steps from the south or a sloping approach road from the east.

About one third of Kenwood is a site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to its semi-natural ancient woodlands  and the deadwood attracts a vast variety of invertebrates which in turn attract such birds as woodpeckers, tree creepers and nuthatch.

Several species of bats can be found here, including a large Pipistrelle community.
Sessile Oaks, Beech, Mountain Ash, Holly and Wild Service trees are all present in this special place.

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