Ibbotson painting of Dairy and cows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Story

The Dairy’s role and its buildings are part of  the Kenwood story. The story begins long before the present Mansion and park. A glimpse into an earlier Kenwood.

It will tell the story of dairy production, self-sustainability and of the people of Kenwood who worked there.

The First Lord Mansfield, William Murray,(1705-1793), acquired Kenwood House in 1754. The Second Earl of Mansfield  succeeded to the title and the Kenwood Estate in 1793 and set about modernising the farm buildings to the latest style.  This eighteenth century Swiss-chalet style dairy is a unique survival within London. It is likely that before this ‘modern’ Dairy was built in 1794-96 there was an earlier Dairy at Kenwood.

The Dairy as  fashion accessory
At the end of the Eighteenth Century among the aristocracy there was a great interest in modernising agriculture and dairy farming. It was fashionable for aristocratic ladies (exemplified by Marie Antoinette) to pose as milkmaids. Lady Mansfield also  entertained aristocratic friends,  making butter and taking tea in the Dairy.
Visitors to the Dairy at the invitation of Lady Mansfield included the Duke of Wellington. Recipes for the making of butter were discussed whilst she showed the Duke the Dairy.

A sustainable farm
Dairy farming, and related products, were also a serious business, worthy of a Gentleman’s attention. Model farms had a serious purpose: to provide in a sustainable way for the needs of the Estate including all those who lived and worked there. The new farm cottages, a stable yard, gate lodges and dairy were planned and built in this context. Here milk from the Estate herd was separated and the cream turned into butter and cheese. The whey (the waste milk) was piped direct from the creamery to the piggery just below.

Ice from the estate lakes was carted up to the Dairy in winter and stored in the deep brick vault beneath the creamery to service the needs of the Household (ice creams were a popular feature of Georgian menus). It also acted as a cold larder: hooks on the walls were used to hang food. The  floor of the working creamery above it was also kept cool. It was a vital element in running a comfortable household in the days before refrigerators. For more see the Ice House link below.

The Dairy as status symbol – keeping up with the Land-owning class
At the same time we see the Georgians developing the English Landscape Park as settings for their country mansions. Kenwood House was in the country until the coming of the railways and the Victorian expansion to the lower slopes of Hampstead Heath to meet the housing needs of the growing population of London. The Dairy was built as an ‘eye-catcher’, a feature of the designed landscape park. The landscape area around the Dairy, set on a knoll at almost the highest point of the Estate, was designed in the 1790s by the famous Landscape Architect, Humphry Repton.

A Remarkable London Survivor  
The Kenwood Dairy, most likely designed by the architect George Saunders and in the Swiss chalet style, is a remarkable survival within London of the 18th Century Picturesque movement of garden design. It is within easy walking distance of the Mansion (Kenwood House) and offered a panoramic view over London (partially obscured by trees now). The Dairy is still separated by a ha-ha: a ditch, forming a barrier (without interrupting the view) which prevented the cows, grazing in the meadow below, from trespassing into the surrounds of the Dairy. In particular the brick ice house beneath is thought to be unique in the London area.

20th Century
In 1927 the Kenwood Estate was saved from housing development and generously bought for the nation by Lord Iveagh. The Dairy was operational until the early 20th century. After the Second World War there is evidence that all the farm buildings needed repair. The question in those straitened times was who was responsible, and where was the money to come from? The London County Council (later the Greater London Council) was charged with the responsibilty of the whole Estate. It arranged the conversion of the Dairy into staff accommodation. In 1986 responsibility for Kenwood was passed to English Heritage.

One of the terms of the Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood is that activities within the Estate must be consistent with the atmosphere of a Gentleman’s estate. Entrance to the House and Estate is also free. The effect of these provisions is that Kenwood has very little income but still needs a lot of expenditure on its upkeep. For this reason, although wishing to bring the Dairy buildings up to the standard they deserve, to do so has been impractical until now.

One of the terms of the Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood is that activities within the Estate must be consistent with the atmosphere of a Gentleman’s estate. Entrance to the House and Estate is also free. The effect of these provisions is that Kenwood has very little income but still needs a lot of expenditure on its upkeep. For this reason, although wishing to bring the Dairy buildings up to the standard they deserve, to do so has been impractical until now.

The Heritage Lottery Fund grant for the Caring For Kenwood project has at last enabled English Heritage to plan and carry out the works . It is a very exciting step forward for the Dairy. Kenwood Dairy Restoration Trust is proud to be involved in helping raise the matching funds for this important work on such an iconic and romantic building.

For what lies ahead see into the Future.

 

To help us achieve the Future please join the project by Giving.

Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

Registered Charity no 1122681

Kenwood Dairy Three Long-Horned Cattle in Landscape by Julius Caesar Ibbetson (1759-1817) ©English Heritage Photo Library

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