'Prostituting Kenwood to raise money': Concerns over large events at stately home

Dry mud outside on a sunny day by Kenwood House, Hampstead

The cost to repair and re-turf the lawn was added to the event hire fee, and Kenwood House's gardens team have leveled the area prior to laying new turf. - Credit: English Heritage

Some residents are worried about the environmental damage caused by the "endless treadmill" of public events that are "prostituting Kenwood House to raise money".

At a public meeting inside the former stately home of Hampstead Heath on Tuesday, (March 22), locals voiced their disappointment at the damage inflicted by large events at Kenwood House, such as the Christmas at Kenwood light trail.

The last time summer concerts were held at Kenwood was 2013. Picture: CUFFC

Kenwood House - Credit: Archant

A member of the public said: "I was particularly appalled by the damage to the Flower Garden after the Christmas events."

The Flower Garden is a section of lawn that was agreed as part of the event planning to be covered with tracking boards so that it would be accessible for vehicles and visitors for the duration of the event.

Three months after the Christmas event, which sold more than 60,000 tickets, this section of lawn is still a mud patch. 

Abi Marsh, head of historic properties at English Heritage, which manages the site, explained that the delay to repairing the Flower Garden is the fault of their contractors.

"We are very disappointed that access hasn't returned yet," she said at the meeting. But she reassured residents that if they do the event again, it will be delivered differently and the Flower Garden will not be used in the same way.

Most Read

She added that ten post-treatment sessions are planned to restore the Flower Garden. The turf will be laid from Monday ( March 28).

Another member of the public described the aftermath of the Christmas at Kenwood a "misery", and asked "was it financially worth it? What's wrong with conventional fundraising?"

Kingston Myles, head of commercial development at English Heritage, said: "I can’t share a number because it’s contractually/ commercially sensitive. But yes, it was worth it."

After catering, events is the second biggest income stream for the estate. 

He also stressed that it's not free to maintain the Kenwood estate or its collections, and the public aren't willing to donate lots of money.

A member from Friends of Kenwood agreed with Kingston, saying: "We’re in the richest part of London but where are those donors? We’ve got to live with it."