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Keats House, or Wentworth Place as it was originally known, was built in 1814 by William Woods and completed in 1816. It was in the smallest of one of the two original houses that John Keats came to live in 1818, staying here for just 17 months before travelling to Italy where he died.
A major change to the building happened in 1838 when the new owner, actress Eliza Jane Chester knocked through the walls to create a single house. Miss Chester was famous during the 1820s and early 1830s for playing the lead roles in comedies, she was known for her beauty and elegance rather than her acting ability or her voice.
Following the changes made by Miss Chester, the house remained largely unaltered and continued to be a private residence until the early years of the 20th century. In 1920, demolition project was made for a row of flats. but thanks to the Memorial Committee money was raised to buy the house, repair it, and maintain it as a memorial to Keats.
Keats House opened to the public on 9th May 1925. In 1998 the City of London assumed responsibility for Keats House, with some restoration of the building, improvements to security...
The Keats House collection is comprised of an enormous variety of Keats related material including books, paintings and everyday household items which might have been used in the house at the time. Some of the original material includes letters written by Keats, books in which Keats wrote some of his poetry, and the engagement ring given by Keats to his fiancée, Fanny Brawne.
Many of the most important items in the collection, such as the letters, books and photographs are now particularly vulnerable as they are fragile and sensitive to light. This means that they are only displayed for short periods at the House.