Appropriately located by the ancient parkland of Hampstead Heath, Wentworth Place was one of the final homes of Romantic poet John Keats. Here he was inspired to write some of his now notorious lines, hearing a nightingale sing and observing, "tender is the night,/ And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne" and proclaiming his love to his "Bright star". The Grade I listed building, now also known as Keats House, serves as a modest reminder of Keats' last brief residence in England before his gruelling death from tuberculosis in Rome, overlooking the Spanish Steps.

Although Keats only lived at Wentworth Place from 1818 to 1820, it was here that the poet arguably spent the most difficult and important years of his life. Occupying rooms in one half of the house with his friend Charles Brown, he wrote the majority of his great odes, allegedly completing "Ode to a Nightingale" under a plum tree in the garden, and producing the poorly-received collection Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems, now considered to be one of the most influential poetic works in the English language.

And intriguingly, it was whilst living at Wentworth that Keats met his love, Miss Fanny Brawne, who lived with her mother in rooms on the other side of the building. Supposedly the inspiration for the final draft of the poem 'Bright Star', their relationship was cut short by Keats' hopeless departure for Rome, and his engagement ring to Fanny is kept on display here.

Unfortunately, since Keats' time the house has been considerably altered by its various occupants and so there is not much here by way of atmosphere, beyond its status as a historic site. Along with a large extension, the original walls which divided Miss Brawne's side of the house from Keats' have been removed and the layout of the upstairs rooms altered. One black mulberry tree which remains in the garden is suspected to have been present during Keats' residence. Nevertheless, a considerable effort has been made to decorate the house in the appropriate style of the early 1800s, and much research has gone into arranging the interior as it was mentioned in Keats' letters and other trusted sources. A particularly strong point is the museum's acquisition of Charles Brown's original furniture and William Hogarth prints which were used during his time at Wentworth Place. Most interesting are copies of Keats' life and death masks on display, which add some sense of a connection with the history of the house. It is unusual to be able to look so closely at the features of a nineteenth century poet - as if you might know him - and the death mask especially allows a glimpse into the very private final moments of his extremely drawn-out, painful death.

Wandering around the house and looking through its windows, framing views which have perhaps significantly changed since Keats' time, you are simply left to imagine a time nearly two hundred years back, when the writer spoke to Fanny in these rooms and maybe sat under some long-dead trees in the garden. If anything, the ample greenery of Hampstead Heath provides the appropriately atmospheric surroundings, and Keats House certainly offers a quiet commemorative corner for this poet.

Keats HousePhoebe Crompton reviews Keats House.3