Read The Book

Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice by Paula Byrne

Genre: Non Fiction, Biography

Summary: Belle was a mixed race child adopted by the aristocratic family of Kenwood and raised alongside their own daughter during the time slavery was becoming contested in England. The book focuses around the infamous trial of the sinking of a slave ship.

*Confession: I haven’t read this book yet because I only learned about it during the trip. 

Location: Kenwood Estate, Hampstead Heath, London, England

Purchase on Amazon (*affiliate link)

The Experience

By day 5 in London we were so worn out that we were glad to have a less busy day. It turns out that I have relatives in London and we were to have lunch with them. This meant that we did not have time for touring in the morning, so instead we had a leisurely morning. We walked to the corner bakery for breakfast pastries and then enjoyed the comfortable couches in the living room of our flat until it was time to leave. While part of me felt I was wasting valuable touring hours, I was glad to have the time to catch up on my journaling of the day before.

Before noon we took the subway out to a London suburb and walked to my relatives’ house for lunch. They had invited their grown children home for lunch and we all had a marvelous time getting to know each other and comparing the places we live.

Kenwood House & Estate

After lunch a couple of the family members offered to take us touring to an estate which, since we lacked a car, we might otherwise not have seen. Kenwood House & Estate is a large mansion that had been turned into an art museum and opened to the public by its last owner. The gardens are expansive with rolling greens where people were walking dogs, sitting on the lawns, and simply enjoying the nice weather.

Kenwood Estate
Kenwood Estate with London skyline visible above the trees

Inside the mansion we viewed the paintings that had been collected by the last owner of the estate. I was happy to find a Vermeer painting among the collection. Vermeer is one of my favorite painters. His works are usually small, but vivid. Other than the Vermeer, my favorite part of the great house was, of course, its library. There was one wall of books at the end of the room, and the recent restoration had returned the room to an airy light blue color.

Kenwood Library
Kenwood Library
kenwood library
Obligatory photo of the librarian in the library

This estate was also the home of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the inspiration for the book Belle: The True Story of Dido Belle. Belle was a mixed race child adopted by the aristocratic family of Kenwood and raised as one of their daughters. I have now added this book to my reading list.

BBC News

While we had gone touring, the daughter of our relatives had to run off to work, forgetting her keys with her parents. We offered to drop her keys at her work on our way back into London and lucky for us, she works at BBC News! Despite her fast paced, time sensitive work, she was able to spare 5-10 minutes to give us a private tour of her work area. There were floors and floors of long desks with rows of computers!

bbc newsroom
BBC News room floor with News desk on the left

On our way out we walked by the building gift shop and found ourselves face to face with a character from one of the BBC’s more popular shows… it was a Dalek from Dr. Who. Escaping without being exterminated, just beyond the Dalek we found a TARDIS!

The Doctor & Companion

After running away in the TARDIS and having a grand adventure before returning to the exact same time we left, we caught a bus near the BBC News building that took us to Trafalger Square where we found some dinner before catching the next bus that would take us back to our neighborhood. We were all happy the day had not involved as much walking as the previous days, but we were still pretty worn out. I couldn’t wait for the next day, we were to tour Hampton Court Palace!

Plan Your Visit

Website for Kenwood Estate

Let’s Talk!

Are you familiar with Belle Dido and her story? Have you ever been taken on an unexpected adventure and loved it? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

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Kenwood Estate

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