ROMANTIC poet John Keats may have lived in this house for less than two years, but when you only live to be 25 years old that’s not an insignificant amount of time. Add in the fact that this was where Keats met his fiancée, Fanny Brawne, and was most productive in his writing, and it’s not difficult to see why the house, and even the grove in which it stands, have been dedicated to him.
Originally built in 1814-15, the house was made up of two residences and by 1817, when Keats, introduced by friends of friends, began to visit, was inhabited by Charles Wentworth Dilke and Charles Brown. Brown took Keats in as a border in 1818, for a sum of £5 per month (plus his share of the liquor bill, of course) and granted him his own bedroom and parlour. It was from this parlour that Keats composed much of his most famous work; however, Charles Brown later stated that “Ode to a Nightingale” was composed under a plum tree in the garden.
Fanny Brawne, aged 18 at the time, lived in the adjoining residence with her mother and sisters, and she and Keats became secretly engaged. Having given up his medical practice to focus on poetry, Keats was not wealthy, and Mrs Brawne withheld her blessing of the marriage until Keats could prove himself financially stable enough to support her daughter. When Keats left the house, known as Wentworth Place, to seek the warmer climate of Italy in 1820, he had still not gained Mrs Brawne’s approval and when he died in February 1821 he remained unmarried.
In the years following Keats’ death, the house underwent a number of notable changes, including the renovation that combined the residences into a single house in 1838. Over the years, the house was also known by a number of names, but in 1924, only a few years after it had been scheduled for demolition, it was officially and permanently renamed Wentworth Place in recognition of the title by which Keats would have known it, and the museum in his house opened the following year. In 1931, a new building was constructed on the grounds where the stables would once have stood, to serve as a library for a collection of Keats’ books and letters donated by the descendants of Keats’ friend, Charles Wentworth Dilke.
Physical address: 10 Keats Grove, Hampstead
Phone number: +44 20 7332 3868
Business hours: 11am – 5pm Wednesday to Sunday (tours at 3pm); open Good Friday and bank holiday Mondays
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