The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 48 Hampstead and Highgate

Wentworth Place

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High Street descends from the Hampstead Tube Station to meet Rosslyn Hill and Haverstock Hill. The Hampstead Subscription Library, at the corner of Prince Arthur Road (right), occupies Stanfield House, where Clarkson Stanfield, the painter, lived for many years before his death in 1867. A little farther on, on the same side, are Vane House (tablet) and the Royal Soldiers' Daughters' Home, occupying the site of the house and grounds of Sir Harry Vane (1612-62), where he was arrested by Charles II. in 1660. Bishop Butler (author of the 'Analogy') occupied the house at a later period. Lower down, on the left, Downshire Hill leads to the East Heath, passing (right) Keats Grove, once John St., in which stands WENTWORTH PLACE, later known as Lawn Bank, the house in which John Keats (1795-1821) spent a great part of the years 1818-20 with his friend Charles Armitage Brown (1786-1842). This, little changed, is now the Keats Memorial House and contains an interesting collection of portraits, engravings, books, and personal relics of Keats, including some from the Dilke Collection. Admission free, Monday, Wednesday, & Saturday 10-6 (November-March 10-4); at other times by appointment (telephone, Hampstead 2062). Wentworth Place, built by Charles Wentworth Dilke (died 1864) and C. A. Brown, originally contained two distinct dwellings, not thrown into one until 1840, when also the room at the east end was added. Dilke and (later) the Brawnes lived in the west (right) half, Brown and Keats in the other. In the garden, which was in common, is the aged mulberry tree, beneath which the 'Ode to the Nightingale' may well have been composed. We enter by the Brawnes' front door. The Drawing Room, on the right, contains Leigh Hunt's desk and personal relics of Fanny Brawne (1800-65), including the ring given her by Keats, which she wore until her death. Keats's Study (the background of Joseph Severn's portrait of the poet) contains a glass case with a lock of Keats's hair and one of Fanny Brawne's. vOpposite is Brown's Sitting Room, where Keats occupied a couch after the beginning of the fatal illness in February 1820. In the table-case are Keats's folio Shakespeare, given 'to F. B.' in 1820, in which the poet wrote his well-known sonnet; a copy of the 'Indicator,' with an manuscript note by Leigh Hunt; facsimiles of Keats's notes as medical student, etc. In a frame are C. A. Brown's exquisite pen-and-ink copies of heads in the engravings of Hogarth's 'Rake's Progress,' which hang in their old position on the walls. The painting of 'Isabella and the Pot of Basil,' by Joseph Severn, over the fireplace in the Drawing Room of 1840, was presented by his son Arthur Severn, the friend of Ruskin. Upstairs is Keats's Bedroom. Above the fireplace are a life-mask of the poet, taken by B. Haydon, and a wreath (annually renewed) of myrtle from Keats's tomb in Rome. Adjacent is Brown's Bedroom. The room in which Keats was nursed for a time by the Brawnes is not shown. The Basement remains as in Keats's time.