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Restoration revives Keats villa

22 July 09 12:57 GMT

The home of English poet John Keats is to reopen following an "immaculate renovation" costing £500,000.

Keats lived in the Regency villa in Hampstead, north London, from 1818-1820 and composed works such as Ode To A Nightingale in the garden.

It has been restored to its original decoration and has items like the engagement ring he gave Fanny Brawne - the neighbour he fell in love with.

Keats House opens on Friday and will have exhibits never seen in public.

The cost of the restoration project, named Magic Casements after a line in Ode to a Nightingale, was made possible by a £424,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The villa has been a museum since 1925 and has been the responsibility of the City of London Corporation since 1997.

Michael Welbank, chairman of the City's Hampstead Heath management committee, said: "The house and garden have been beautifully restored to a living environment that John Keats would have recognised almost 200 years ago.

"Keats House will remain a relevant and powerful landmark involving local people and we look forward to welcoming even more visitors from across the world."

'Moving insight'

The chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund's London committee, Wesley Kerr, said Keats was a "prodigiously talented" poet who created some of the greatest poetry and finest imagery in the English language in his short life.

He said the house which now bore Keats' name was a place where many poets and artists had been inspired.

"The Heritage Lottery Fund is very proud of the immaculate renovation, which opens up new areas of the house, gives a moving insight into Keats' life and loves, and will bring new, enthralled audiences to this 'melodious plot'," he said.

Keats also wrote his odes On A Grecian Urn, On Melancholy and La Belle Dame Sans Merci at the Grade I listed house.

It was from there that he set out for Rome, where he died of tuberculosis aged 25.

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