History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
Just off Hampstead Heath, this National Trust house is famous for its collection of early keyboard instruments, most of which are in working order. The 17th-century house also boasts an outstanding collection of porcelain, 17th-century needlework pictures, and Georgian furniture. The delightful walled garden includes fine displays of roses and a vegetable garden.
One of the finest - of many - fine houses in elegant Hampstead, Fenton House dates from 1696. It was built by William Eades, who designed a house with a minimum of carved stone detail, preferring instead to feature brick throughout. The exteriors are largely brown brick with rubbed red brick used for window and door details. The house is two storey, with a third level of rooms under the gabled eaves.
The interior is a uniform cross shape, with four equal sections. One unusual feature is that each of the public rooms had a 'closet', where chamber pots would have been kept. Normally these closets were reserved for bedrooms, but not so at Fenton House.
The house was purchased by the Fenton family in 1793. In the early 19th century James Fenton added Regency detailing and a classical colonnade to the exterior.
The garden is worth noting; it is really several gardens in one. A formal area of terraced walks surrounds green lawns. There is a separate rose garden, and a kitchen garden and apple orchard beyond.
The most prominent feature of Fenton House is not its undoubtedly fine architecture, it is the collection of early keyboard instruments. The collection was amassed by Major Benton Fletcher and includes clavichords, spinets, pianos, harpsichords, and other early keyboards.
Far from being museum pieces, the keyboards are all in playing order, and music students may play them if they can first pass an audition.
In addition to the keyboards, Fenton House features collections of fine porcelain, including Chinese, Japanese, and European figures.
Wow! I honestly didn't expect to enjoy Fenton House as much as I did. While I was exploring the house a musician was trying out one on the historic pianos in preparation for one of the frequent concerts that Fenton House hosts.
The music just enveloped the entire house in the most beautiful sound. It was heavenly. The interiors are pleasant, certainly not overwhelming; a very good example of an elegant, unpretentious townhouse.
The gardens, though small, are beautiful, and really give you a sense of the time period. You can get a pamphlet at the desk detailing a walk through historic Hampstead from Fenton House to another nearby National Trust property at 2 Willow Road.
If you have the time, I can highly recommend this walk; it takes you past several fascinating period houses and outlines intriguing snippets of local history.
About Fenton House
Address: Hampstead Grove, Hampstead, London, Greater London, England, NW3 6SP
Attraction Type: Historic Building
Location: Entrance on W side of Hampstead Grove. 3 blocks north west of Hampstead Underground Station.
Website: Fenton House
Phone: 020 7435 3471
Fax: 020 7435 3471
National Trust - see also: National Trust memberships (official website link)
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Nearest station: Hampstead - 0.2 miles (straight line) - Zone: 2.5
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NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
Burgh House & Hampstead Museum - 0.2 miles (Historic House)
2 Willow Road - 0.5 miles (Historic Building)
Keats House - 0.6 miles (Historic Building)
Freud Museum - 0.7 miles (Museum)
Kenwood House - 1 miles (Historic House)
Ben Uri Gallery and Museum, London: Art, Identity, Migration - 1.5 miles (Museum)
Highgate Cemetery - 1.5 miles (Historic Building)
ZSL London Zoo - 1.9 miles (Family Attraction)
Nearest Accommodation to Fenton House: