Is what could be Britain’s most expensive house for sale? If it is, the price could top £200 million and the buyer will come to own Central London’s largest truly private garden also
Rector’s houses are often grand but when what is now called The Old Rectory – or more simply 56 Old Church Street – in Chelsea became something on quite another scale when it was extended and refurbished by Collett and Champion between 1990 and 1994 in association with the Japanese businessman Norikazu Nemoto.
Grade II listed and featuring a Blue Plaque to the notoriously bigoted clergyman and writer Professor Charles Kingsley (1819 – 1875) – a man who described the Irish as “human white chimpanzees” and one whose novel Westward Ho! paved the way for the naming of the owning of the only settlement in Britain with an exclamation mark in its name – The Old Rectory was built circa 1725 on a site gifted to the church by the Marquis of Winchester.
Famous for having the largest truly private garden in Central London – which extends to two acres and which was also the place where the 1815 Battle of Waterloo was supposedly planned when rector George Valerian Wellesley, brother of the Duke of Wellington was in residence – The Old Rectory was transformed in the early 1990s with the addition of two wings.
Now said to have accommodation extending to 30,000 square foot, the property has been owned by Norwegian born John Fredriksen – formerly Norway’s richest man (until he abandoned his citizenship) since 2001. He paid around £40 million for the property but now with a somewhat vague advert appearing on the property website Primelocation.com from an obscure agent named Belgrave Lettings it seems it could be for sale.
In their listing, the firm describe “an enormous detached mansion in Old Church Street, London, SW3” with “huge gardens plus summer house.” Features – that giveaway the house’s identity – are said to include 8 double bedrooms “with a spectacular master, 8 bathrooms, [an] impressive swimming pool, cinema room, gym, double garage [and] underground parking for 12 vehicles.”
Whilst some might suggest such a property – given the only other detached house in that street that this could possibly be does not have an interior resembling the photograph of the hallway (pictured above) used in the marketing material, it can only be assumed this has to be The Old Rectory. A call to the agents by The Steeple Times, however, was met simply with the answer: “No comment” and the abrupt click of the phone.
Since a penthouse in the repugnantly vulgar (and mostly empty) money park that is One Hyde Park in Knightsbridge sold for £160 million in May 2018 (plus £23 million in stamp duty), if indeed The Old Rectory is for sale, it will surely fetch well north of £200 million.
The Numbers – The Old Rectory, 56 Old Church Street, London, SW3
2019 – For sale? Asking price unknown.
2006 – John Fredriksen pays £30 million ($39 million, €34.8 million or درهم143.2 million) for the neighbouring house, 58 Old Church Street.
2004 – Oligarch and Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich reportedly offered £100 million ($130 million, €116 million or درهم477 million) for the house even though it was not (allegedly) even for sale.
2001 – Sold to self-made Norwegian oil tanker and shipping magnate John Fredriksen for circa £40 million ($51 million, €46 million or درهم191 million)
1995 – Sold to Greek shipping and steel magnate Theodore Angelopoulos for £22 million ($28.6 million, €25.5 million or درهم105 million).
1994 – For sale for £25 million ($32.5 million, €29 million or درهم119 million).