Monday, 29 June 2015

Kenwood Dairy

In 1789 William Murray, Lord Chief Justice, 1st Earl of Mansfield bought "the Singularly Valuable and truly desirable Freehold and Tithe Free Estate", Millfield Farm. The farm had been described in The Morning Herald in an advertisement that played on the arcadian sensibility then at the height of fashion as;

"The beautifully elevated situation of this estate, happily ranks it above all others round London, as the most charming spot where the Gentlemen and the Builder may exercise their taste in the erection of Villas, many of which can be so delightfully placed as to command the richest home views of wood and water and the distant views of the Metropolis, with the surrounding counties of Essex, Surrey and Berkshire."

The appearance of the Kenwood Estate today largely derives from the late 18th century, when the 2nd Earl of Mansfield employed Humphrey Repton to enhance the grounds. Louisa, daughter of Lord Cathcart had married Lord Stormont, the 2nd Earl Mansfield in 1776, as his second wife, 31 years his junior. She was passionate about agricultural improvement and it was she that was responsible for the dairies at Scone Palace and Kenwood.

The Kenwood dairy was designed for Louisa, Countess of Mansfield by George Saunders between 1794 and 1795. (It replaced the earlier dairy presided over by Dido Belle.) The dairy is composed of three pavillions, a small octagonal tea room, a 'Dairy House' and a 'Scullery' with an ice house underneath. Under Louisa's supervision the Dairy provided the house with milk, butter, cream and cheese.

The popularity of dairies in the 18th century had been influenced by the Queen Marie-Antoinette's dairies at the chateaux of Versailles and Rambouillet which Louisa may well have seen when her husband was ambassador to France.

It was most likely to have been Louisa who commissioned the painting of Kenwood's longhorn cattle.

J.C. Ibbetson, Long-horned cattle at Kenwood, 1797. (detail)