Grade I listed Queen Anne house retaining original panelling and staircase with a cafe, modern gallery and museum, set in a small Gertrude Jekyll terrace garden.
info_outlineThis building is open free of charge at other times of the year
Historical house, Community/cultural, Gallery, Museum
The Grade I listed Burgh House was built 1703-04 during Queen Anne's reign for the Sewells, a Quaker family. Originally the house was quite small consisting of only the front portion of what is present now.
In 1720 the Spa (or Hampstead Wells) flourished and the Spa's physician Dr William Gibbons moved in. It was he who enlarged the house and added the present Grade II listed wrought-iron gates that bear his initials. The gates stand between good red brick piers that display bands of stone and thick capitals. They are flanked by stock brick walls and a brick dentil cornice lower down. Dr Gibbons added the rear of the house beyond the double doors.
The house changed hands over the centuries and for a time it was known by the name of its longest inhabitants Sarah and Israel Lewis. However after Israel Lewis's death in 1922 Lewis House was sold to the Rev Allatson Burgh from whom the house now derives its name.
Rev Burgh decided to replace a smaller room at the front of the house with an extension that projects onto the street wall. The result was a more spacious area. However in the 1920s this was demolished and the present shorter and lower dimensions are believed to have been designed to incorporate the beautiful 18th century panelling.
Between 1858 and 1881 Burgh House was used as the Headquarters and Officers' Mess for the Royal East Middlesex Militia. The stained glass designer Thomas Grylls, of the partnership that designed the rose window above Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey, moved in with his family of 12 children in 1884.
Burgh House was fortunate to escape bombing in World War II and happily the house still retains a lot of original features. It now houses the Hampstead Museum and gives a priority to exhibitions on local life. The array of original features includes fully panelled rooms, carved cornices, dadoes and original fireplaces including the one in the hall with its Chinese Chippendale fret. The staircase is also from the 18th century and the panelling in the music room is believed to have come from the formerly adjoining Weatherall House.
The main front, to the southeast, shows five symmetrical windows and a reinstated wood modillion cornice. The façade of the building displays patched red brick bands between its three storeys. The central doorway displays a cornice-hood carried by pilasters and brackets of wrought iron.
In 1977 Camden Council, its new owners, discovered dry rot in the building. With great enthusiasm and effort the Keep Burgh House appeal raised enough money for the council to grant them a lease. By 1979 the restored House was open to the public. The house was then again refurbished and improved, providing disabled access and bringing the museum up to greater modern standards. The house was once again formally opened to the public on 16th July 2006.