Visit to Kenwood House (Hoda El Chayah, ITP 2018, Lebanon)

Written by Hoda El Chayah, Archaeologist, Directorate General of Antiquities: Museums Section, Lebanon (ITP 2018)

On Saturday (4 August 2018), it was the last weekend together for the ITP 2018. It was not like the other Saturdays, where we had trips that lasted from 9 till 5 or 6pm. This Saturday was different: we started our journey more relaxed, at 1:15pm and travelled to Kenwood House, where we were received by Mrs Frances Carey.

Mrs Frances Carey is a freelance academic advisor, consultant of arts and heritage and Chair of the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust. She told us about the history of this English Heritage house.

Kenwood House is on the edge of London’s Hampstead Heath. It was most probably built at first in the early 17th century between 1764 and 1779, then Robert Adam transformed it into a neoclassical villa for William Murray 1st Earl of Mansfield, and the interiors include some of Adam’s finest surviving schemes.

Kenwood is considered as a home to the finest collection of Old Master paintings given to the British Nation in the 20th century. Under the terms of the Iveagh Bequest, the paintings displayed at Kenwood guarantee its role as a free public art gallery.

When I entered the house and I saw the large collection of paintings, it was something overwhelming. There were wonderful paintings by the painter Anthony Van Dyck: he was hired to paint a portrait on the occasion of the marriage of Princess Royal Mary, daughter of King Charles I of England (and only 9 years old!) and William II, Prince of Orange in 1649.

The library of the house has been decorated in its original colour scheme (white, light blue and pink) to show the room as it was originally conceived by Adam.

It was something extraordinary when my colleague and I tried on old costumes – a long white dress and red cloak. After that, we did a nature walk and wished the road would never end – it was a big surprise for us to see this scenic nature in London Then, we arrived at the house of Mrs France Carey where she prepared us several kinds of English cake and fresh lemonade.

Frances, with Claire, Jessica, Andrea and Rebecca, made us feel at home. We spent our time taking pictures of this memorable journey and sharing all kind of conversations. We were so happy despite our fatigue!

It was like having a picnic with my own family. I was so happy but at the same time sad because it was the last weekend and I will leave London in one week, so I will miss every single moment I spent with all my colleagues on the ITP.