The 2018 programme is now past. We will be launching the 2019 programme mid-August.
Keats Grove, NW3 2RR
Partial disabled access, Bookshop, Toilets
Early 19C Grade I listed building and former home of the poet John Keats.
Keats House was built during the winter of 1815-16 as Wentworth Place, a pair of semi-detached houses standing in a common garden on part of what was then known as the Lower Heath Quarter. Charles Wentworth Dilke, a civil servant (and grandfather of the Victorian politician) occupied the western, larger house, and Charles Armitage Brown, a literary critic, the eastern house.
John Keats made his first visit to Hampstead in 1816 to meet Leigh Hunt who lived in the Vale of Health. Keats was introduced to Dilke and Brown by Leigh Hunt and by mid-April 1817 had settled in Well Walk with his brothers, George and Tom. In June 1818 George emigrated to America and in December Tom died of consumption. After Tom’s death Brown persuaded Keats to live with him and for the remainder of the latter’s brief life, this house was his London home. He wrote much of his finest work here.
In 1819 Dilke let his house to Mrs. Brawne, a widow with three children. Her eldest daughter, Fanny, then eighteen, was introduced to Keats by Dilke. They eventually became engaged but Keats died in Rome in 1821.
The exterior of the house remains very much as it was then, except for the drawing room. This was added on each side of the house by Miss Eliza Chester, a retired actress who bought the two houses in 1838-1839 and converted them into one. The mulberry tree, beneath which Keats rote his Ode to a Nightingale, has been replaced. Inside the house the poet’s sitting room is practically unchanged. It retains the original windows with their folding shutters and the shelves on which Keats kept his books.
The house contains relics from the descendants of Fanny Brawne, Fanny Keats, Leigh Hunt, Dilke and Brown. Most of these are displayed in the Brawne Rooms and the Chester Room. The property was rescued from impending destruction in 1920-1921 by public subscription, largely from the USA. It was then vested in the Hampstead Borough Council (now succeeded by the Corporation of London) in perpetuity as a memorial to the poet. The house was restored in 1974-75 and 2007-9.