Python star unhappy after Kenwood House closed for weeks during the summer

Michael Palin has lived in Gospel Oak for 50 years. Picture: PA/Matt Crossick

Michael Palin has lived in Gospel Oak for 50 years. Picture: PA/Matt Crossick - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, or so the saying goes.

Kenwood House. Picture: Ken Mears

Kenwood House. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

However English Heritage is facing some tough questions from Monty Python star and travel journalist, Michael Palin.

In a letter to the Ham&High, Michael, who has lived in Gospel Oak for 50 years said he is unhappy with the length of time part of Hampstead Heath outside Kenwood House has been closed for this summer, and the damage left behind afterwards.

Speaking to this newspaper, he said he was “indignant” at how long part of the Heath was closed for over the summer. Two Kenwood summer concerts have taken place, as well as Soho House’s House Festival.

Another event is planned for the Financial Times in September.

The 75-year-old said: “The two concerts were two public events over the summer. However I was aware of the number of days that this rather lovely part of the Heath and Kenwood was closed off.

“It wasn’t just the two to three nights of the concerts, it was the time before and afterwards that struck me.”

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However the BAFTA fellow became more irritated when weeks later he saw it was closed-off again for a private event.

“I saw there was this one day event for Soho House, and this was what made me really indignant. That’s when I saw red. It’s one of the most beautiful parts of Kenwood House, and it’s being closed for a one-day private event.”

“Even after the trucks, stage, portakabins and fences have gone, it leaves the grass yellow - which isn’t appealing for anybody who wants to picnic on there during the summer we’ve had.”

Michael, whose son Tom is the head of Friends of Finsbury Park, runs on the Heath up to twice a week. He is now asking for English Heritage to detail when the area infront of the house will be closed.

“We should know how many days it’s going to be closed for. I love Kenwood, and I used to go to the old concerts - I’m not against them.

“However, this is an English Heritage property in trust for the public and it’s being closed off at the time of year when everybody wants to go there.”

Sam Cooper, general manager at Kenwood, said it will be having a meeting in the autumn to speak to residents about the effects. He said: “We’re sorry to hear that Mr Palin was unhappy with the closures of some areas of Kenwood during the summer concerts and House Festival. We closed the pasture grounds and an area near the viewpoint at Kenwood to ensure public safety while preparation for these events was taking place.

“We are very much aware of the impact such events can have on local residents and users of the Heath. We are therefore committed to holding no more than eight large scale music events at Kenwood every year.”

“These concerts provide a vital income for Kenwood. This year, for example, they will allow us to replace the surface on the south terrace. English Heritage is a charity and every penny we receive goes towards looking after Kenwood and all the historic sites in our care, hundreds of which – including Kenwood – are open to the public for free.”