The sale of a historic £22 million residence on London’s Cheyne Walk
Cheyne Walk in Chelsea is amongst the addresses that an estate agent would describe as “the most sought after in London”. Up there in the company of the Bishops Avenue, Grosvenor Square and Cadogan Square, it has moved from having been home to artists such as Whistler, Turner and George Eliot to now being where such people as Mick Jagger, Roman Abramovich, Terry Venables and Sally Greene choose to live.
Of the houses there, No. 92, known as Belle Vue House is particularly impressive. Built in 1771, this terraced property stands in the original grounds of Beaufort House, the London residence of the Duke of Beaufort. It is currently for sale for £22,000,000.
The building was reputedly designed by Robert Adam and though no reference to this can be found in the collections of his designs at the Soane Museum, it certainly echoes his style. Constructed from stock brick, this Grade II listed house is nearly 50 foot wide and enjoys southward views across the River Thames.
The builder and first owner of Belle Vue House was John Hatchett, an “eminent 18th century coachbuilder”. He planted a mulberry tree in the garden of the house in 1776 that was described by the historian Faulkner as being what he “reckoned one of the finest trees of its kind in England”. It remains to this day. Hatchett let the house to Lady Prime from 1778 to 1797 and in due course the property passed to his son, Charles Hatchett F.R.S. (1765 – 1847), a chemist and “voluminous writer”.
The next resident was the Scottish pre-Raphaelite artist and poet William Bell Scott (1811 – 1890) and his wife, Laetitia. A friend and contemporary of Rosetti, he used the building as a “veritable museum” and lived there between 1871 and 1890.
At various times, other distinguished occupiers have included John Marshall F.R.S. (1818 – 1891), a “distinguished anatomist” and professor of anatomy at the Royal Academy and the British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli (1804 – 1881). Disraeli lived in the house for two years during his second premiership and is said to have constructed the canopy that links the front door of the house to the road so that Queen Victoria could “visit in privacy and be protected from the weather”.
British film actor Sir Rex Harrison (1908 – 1990) lived in Belle Vue House in 1958 with his actress wife Kay Kendall (1927 – 1959). Their short-lived marriage from 1957 to 1959 ended a year later when the Genevieve star died from myeloid leukemia. Terence Rattigan later immortalised their love story in his 1973 play In Praise of Love and in it Harrison played himself.
The politician and army officer Sir Patrick Wall (1916 – 1998) took up residence during the 1960s and he was followed by the author Ken Follett and his politican wife, Barbara. Famous for smartening up the Labour Party during the 1980s with what became known as “Folletting”, the house no doubt made the perfect base for the couple’s political salons. The view of the Thames no doubt also provided Mr Follett with inspiration for several of his best-selling novels.
The last documented sale of Belle Vue House records that it was sold for £3,000,000 in May 2000. Since then, this house, now limewashed in a most distinctive Tuscan colour, has been sympathetically renovated and includes 8,400 square foot of internal accommodation. Grandly proportioned reception rooms number a first floor double drawing room, dining room, library and sitting room and in addition the house features a large kitchen, breakfast room, study, three bedroom suites, a gym and wine cellars.
The rear garden is especially large for the location and measures some 64’2” by 47’7” and in addition there is a three car garage and additional parking.
Whilst the “beautiful view” has clearly changed since Belle Vue House was built, whoever purchases this house will undoubtedly be someone who will add to its remarkable history.
Belle Vue House, 92 Cheyne Walk, London, SW10 0DQ is for sale through Tancred Lidbury of Christie’s International Real Estate. For more information contact him on +44 (0) 20 7389 2478.