Friday 3 July 2020

Burgh House & Hampstead Museum - Burgh House Cafe reopening! 🎉

Burgh House 

Time for tea

There have been some exciting developments at Burgh House recently as we prepare for both the reopening of the Burgh House Cafe and our first wedding since lockdown!
The cafe team have worked incredibly hard over the last few weeks to prepare for reopening; there are a number of changes to the way the cafe operates to ensure both customers and staff are safe (more information before) but we are so excited to see you all again!
We also want to say a huge thank you for your continued support. As an independent, self-funded charity we rely on private events and donations to keep the house open for free. Every donation and membership we have received over the past few months has been so important to us, so thank you and we look forward to seeing you all very soon!
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The History of Burgh House (part eleven):

"Keep Burgh House!"

By 1977 Burgh House was suffering from over-use and under-investment – and a bad attack of Dry Rot had been discovered, mostly behind the panelling. Camden Council, who had taken over from Hampstead Council in 1965, closed the building indefinitely and began to debate its disposal. Their main plan was to privatise this Grade I Listed property, perhaps to use as prestigious offices.

It was then, in December 1977, that a number of local residents got together and formed the Burgh House Group – to save the house for the public.
This pressure group was chaired by David Sullivan QC, with Peggy Jay in the chair, and championed by the local paper, the Ham & High, with Gerry Isaaman as editor.

The Council agreed to give the Group time to show whether it had the support of the local community in its take-over bid. Above all, this had to be financial support, so the Group launched a major Appeal to the ‘burghers’ of Hampstead,  with the slogan “Keep Burgh House”. Stalls were set up in the High Street and manned by such local worthies as Melvyn Bragg, Peter Barkworth and Judi Dench; strolling players performed the Burgh House Pageant (featuring Dragon Dry Rot); a Literary Quiz included Kingsley Amis and Margaret Drabble, and a theatrical Gala at the Embassy Theatre starred Alan Bates, Peggy Ashcroft and many other local celebrities. By early 1979, over £42,000 had been raised or promised and the Council agreed to lease Burgh House to a newly-formed registered charity, the Burgh House Trust: it was a full repairing lease with a peppercorn rent.

Now the many supporters and volunteers of the project were soon putting their house – and garden – in order. The Cafe began life in the basement and the Hampstead Museum was launched. The building, now stable, was opened to the public under its new management with a big celebration on September 8th, 1979.

Image: Photograph of the Opening of Burgh House by Patrons Lord David Pitt and Princess Helena Moutafian (1979)

Weddings at Burgh House

We are very happy to announce that we are taking bookings for show-rounds at Burgh House. It will be one couple at a time, the house will still be closed and there will be lots of room to safely have a nice chat and a tour of where the weddings take place. This is a very strange time we are all going through, but delighted that weddings can take place in a safe manner and so many have already been in touch for meetings!
At the moment the weddings guidelines are up to 30 guests, but hopefully this will be more flexible as the weeks go by.
Please email to discuss any bookings or meetings.

Cafe Reopening!

We are so excited to get cooking again!
It has been lovely to see our great local suppliers again after so long, dropping of fresh produce so we can start cooking ready to reopen our cafe tomorrow,
Saturday 4th July at 9:30am
The cafe team have been working round the clock getting things spaced out, safe and clean.
We are going to need your help in adjusting to these new ways of working.
There will be reduced seating in our garden and cafe spaces and we are going to have to ask you not to move furniture around. We can accept maximum groups of 6 people including children and babies, and we have to ensure that children are kept by your sides at all times. We have a sign in sheet for contact tracing and we kindly ask that one person when ordering from each group puts their details down. (We will only keep this info for 21 days). If there is no seating available, don’t worry, we will have takeaway available. Thanks for helping us keep everyone safe and we can’t wait to see you all again.
Collection in Focus:
Stanley Spencer in Hampstead
If you follow us on social media you may have seen our post this week celebrating the anniversary of the birth of British artist Sir Stanley Spencer, who was born on 30th June 1891. We shared this wonderful photograph from our collection which shows Spencer at work in the Vale of Health, Hampstead, watched by a curious young art admirer. You can just about see part of the famous painting he is working on; can you tell what it is?

One of the most important 20th century artists, Spencer studied at the Slade School of Art. He was renowned for his work as a war artist and for his paintings of biblical scenes re-enacted in the streets of Cookham, where he was born. He spent a lot of time in Hampstead, having met his first wife Hilda Carline in 1919 at her family home on Downshire Hill, and was therefore familiar with the sights and sounds of the local area and the heath. The painting depicted in the photograph is one of Spencer’s most iconic works, ‘Helter Skelter’ (1937) a famous ride at the Vale of Health Fair. It is an extraordinary example of Spencer’s work and is now in the Graves Gallery, Museums Sheffield.

The Burgh House collection also contains a group of fascinating objects relating to Spencer’s relationship with Hampstead artist Daphne Charlton, with whom he had an affair. The objects - a decorative jacket, a hat with a pink rose and veil, and a Chinese porcelain bowl - can be seen in Spencer’s remarkable portrait of Daphne, which is now in the Tate. After meeting Daphne and her husband George in 1939, Spencer visited them regularly at their home in New End Square, Hampstead. He helped them to hand paint the wallpaper that decorated their home, of which there is also a piece in our collection.

In July that year, the three artists went on a painting holiday in the rural village of Leonard Stanley, near Stroud in Gloucestershire where they stayed at the 'White Hart Inn'. They remained there until after the outbreak of the Second World War, returning to New End Square over Easter in 1940. Here Daphne sat for her portrait every day for two to three weeks. The hat, which was bought especially for the painting in a shop in Bond Street for three guineas, and jacket feature prominently and the bowl can be seen behind her on the mantelpiece.

Image: J. B. Rustomjee (1904 - 1986), ‘Stanley Spencer at Work in the Vale of Health’, photograph, 1937
Image:  Sir Stanley Spencer (1891-1959), 'Daphne', Oil paint on canvas, 1940 © Estate of Stanley Spencer
Images: Hat, jacket and bowl which belonged to the artist Daphne Charlton and feature in Stanley Spencer’s ‘Daphne’

Call for submissions!

Do you live in or around Hampstead? Have you been creative during lockdown? Perhaps you’ve been using art to improve your mental health and wellbeing over the past few months? No matter what your age, level of skill or area of expertise, we would love to hear from you!

Here at Burgh House, we’ve been inspired by your creativity and the stories that you’ve shared with us during this unprecedented time. We are dedicated to promoting and celebrating the art and heritage of our local area and we want to collate some of the fantastic works of art produced by our community during the Covid-19 pandemic, with the aim of creating an online exhibition from a selection of your submissions later in the year.
Through this project we aim to reflect on the ways in which our community has responded to the struggles many of us have experienced during this time. It will explore and celebrate the ways in which art can make us feel more connected, help us cope in times of adversity, and improve our mental health. This is a rare moment in history and, by drawing together your experiences, we would love to provide a valuable resource for future generations to learn from when trying to make sense of this unprecedented situation.
You may have recently discovered a newfound skill or passion with your extra time, you or your children might be taking part in online classes or clubs, or you might be a student or artist finding new ways of working from home. We want to hear about your experience! We are aware that art and wellbeing are subjective to each individual, so we welcome work of any medium – be it painting, pottery, embroidery, poetry, digital art, knitting, dance or gardening – just so long as an image or recording of your creation can be sent over to us in a digital format.
Burgh House is an open, welcoming, inclusive space and everyone is welcome to take part in this project. If you would like to get involved, please email our curator Amber Turner, for more information and how to make your contribution!