I write to you as we once again find ourselves in a time of uncertainty with many of us concerned about being able to have a "normal" Christmas.

At Kenwood, and across our English Heritage sites, our roles are steeped in history and tradition but at times like this it reminds us that some of the most cherished traditions and histories are far more recent, the ones we share with our loved ones.

From hearing Christmas Carols together on Christmas Eve, to that pair of novelty socks we receive every year from our great Aunt – we all have moments we cherish and love, and I hope you all get to restore them this Christmas.

Despite the ever changing news, I do hope, as manager at Kenwood, that over the last year we have provided a safe and beautiful space for you to come and find some peace away from the ups and downs of 2021.

I do feel this year has largely been a year of hope, with the vaccination roll out, and it was wonderful to open up the house again earlier this year – especially as we welcomed a brand new portrait of Dido Belle by the incredibly talented Mikéla Henry-Lowe – as part of a wider series of portraits at English Heritage sites a depicting six historic figures from the African diaspora whose stories have contributed to England’s rich history.

It’s also been wonderful to see Kenwood lit up over the past month as we’ve hosted Christmas at Kenwood, particularly as many of the lights have been inspired by the house, its interiors and collection – and it’s been lovely to see many familiar faces enjoying the trail.

It's been an absolute pleasure to work with so many of you in the local community this past year, and I would like to send my thanks to all those who have supported us – with particular mention to the Friends of Kenwood, Heath Hands and of course our fabulous volunteers.

From all of us here at Kenwood we wish you a merry Christmas, hopefully full of those cherished traditions, and a happy new year.

We hope to see you all again soon.

Emily Hills is general manager at Kenwood House.