Burgh House was built in 1704, during Queen Anne’s reign. It was one of the first large houses to be built in Hampstead. At the time the house was flourishing as a fashionable Spa, known as Hampstead Wells.
Burgh House in the eighteenth century
Burgh House was built on land recently reclaimed from the Heath for Henry and Hannah Sewell. Only the front portion of the House was built at this time, with many extensions added over the years. On the ground floor, there was originally just the entrance hall and a much smaller version of the Music Room, which would have been used by Sewell, a haberdasher, as a place to store and sell his fabrics. People did not have shops, instead they sold their wares directly from their home.
The basement was used as a kitchen, servants’ hall and wine cellar. The larder was situated under the front steps of the house and the ice house was situated in the moat.
The first floor would have had the same hallway as today, which would have been known as a ‘closet’, but the original staircase would have been closer to the front of the House. The Wells Room and the Office would most likely have been used as bedrooms or drawing rooms.
In the 1720s, the house was extended to include the Library and Art Galleryon the ground floor and the Christopher Wade Room, Heath Room and the current staircase on the first floor. The toilets on the ground floor were also added at this point.
Burgh House from the twentieth century to the present day
In the 1920s, the Music Room was extended dramatically to form the room we know and love today. The room is now used for concerts, plays, talks and choirs, and is available to hire for weddings and other private events.
In 2005, the Peggy Jay Gallery on the ground floor of the house was built to provide wheelchair access to the house and baby-changing facilities. The Gallery now provides a beautiful and minimal space for contemporary art exhibitions.
The Library is now used for clubs, meetings and other small events and is also available to hire. The Heath and Wells Rooms house Hampstead Museum, and the Art Gallery and the Christopher Wade Room display the museum’s temporary exhibitions. The basement and Gertrude Jekyll Terrace are now home to the Buttery Café.
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