Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Cheaper Than Fiction – A Bargain in The Boltons

Cheapest, smallest house on the best side of one of London’s most sought after streets, The Boltons, comes up for sale; the tardis like building was home to novelist-politician Jeffrey Archer and his scientist wife Mary in the 1970s

  • No. 24a The Boltons is one of the smallest houses on “the fourth most expensive street in Britain,” but it is still anything but insubstantial at 3,123 square feet.
  • The tardis-like Victorian townhouse is wedged between two mansions and was converted from a coach house for Aston Martin racing team driver Noël Cunningham-Reid in 1960.
  • Novelist-politician Lord Archer and his scientist wife Dame Mary owned the property between 1972 and 1976.
  • The couple were forced to sell the house after Jeffrey Archer supposedly “lost over £400,000 in a bad investment” in the summer of 1974.
  • Jeffrey Archer subsequently made a fortune as a novelist and then after a glittering career in politics, was jailed in 2001 for perjury and perverting the course of justice.
  • The house was sold again subsequently for £3.8 million in 2007 and is now for sale for £6.5 million; the average price of houses on the street is £32.5 million according to Zoopla.
  • Other residents of The Boltons have variously included Arab royals, Madonna and Sir William Gilbert, one half of Gilbert and Sullivan.

In May 2017, we featured 6 The Boltons after its asking price was slashed from £39.5 million to ‘just’ £30 million, whilst in April 2015, a more modern house at the upper end of the street named One Boltons Place sold for £51 million on an asking price of £55 million. More recently in January 2018, when 22 The Boltons was sold to a British family for £40 million that sale was described as “one of the biggest deals in the last 12 months… a notable one.” Its asking price had been an even more punchy £57.5 million.

 

The Boltons was developed in the 19th century by the architect George Godwin (1813 – 1888) on 11.5 acres of land previously used as market gardens. The oval shaped street consists of 13 Italianate style houses on the “favoured” western crescent and 15 more in addition on the “less sought after” eastern side. In the centre, there is a communal garden and the church of St Mary The Boltons and whilst many residents employ private security, a number of the mansions are locked up, unloved and unoccupied also.

 

Now, an opportunity has arisen for someone to not “buy the worst house on the best street,” but instead “buy the cheapest house on the best side of the best street” in the form of what initially appears as a narrow townhouse wedged between two very much larger semi-detached villas. No. 24a The Boltons is actually deceptive as it not only widens as it goes backwards, but also provides a very surprising 3,123 square foot of usable accommodation over four floors.

 

Cheaper Than Fiction – A Bargain in The Boltons – Cheapest, smallest house on the best side of one of London’s most sought after streets comes up for sale; the tardis like building was home to novelist-politician Jeffrey Archer and his scientist wife Mary in the 1970s – 24a The Boltons, London, SW10 9SU, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, United Kingdom for sale for an asking price of £6.5 million ($8.2 million, €7.3 million or درهم30 million), a figure 71.1% higher than the 2007 sale price through estate agency Knight Frank.
The entrance hall opens into a library area and a feeling of space is provided by a glass enclosure around the upward staircase.
Cheaper Than Fiction – A Bargain in The Boltons – Cheapest, smallest house on the best side of one of London’s most sought after streets comes up for sale; the tardis like building was home to novelist-politician Jeffrey Archer and his scientist wife Mary in the 1970s – 24a The Boltons, London, SW10 9SU, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, United Kingdom for sale for an asking price of £6.5 million ($8.2 million, €7.3 million or درهم30 million), a figure 71.1% higher than the 2007 sale price through estate agency Knight Frank.
The drawing room space beyond has a vast window looking out westwards onto the gardens of the houses of The Little Boltons beyond.
Cheaper Than Fiction – A Bargain in The Boltons – Cheapest, smallest house on the best side of one of London’s most sought after streets comes up for sale; the tardis like building was home to novelist-politician Jeffrey Archer and his scientist wife Mary in the 1970s – 24a The Boltons, London, SW10 9SU, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, United Kingdom for sale for an asking price of £6.5 million ($8.2 million, €7.3 million or درهم30 million), a figure 71.1% higher than the 2007 sale price through estate agency Knight Frank.
The lower ground floor dining kitchen is surprisingly bright and has a double height ceiling in part.

Laid out currently to give 3 reception rooms, 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms, the “highly unusual house with off-street parking” includes a 50-foot long interconnecting entrance hall, library and reception space on the ground floor. At the rear, that opens to a partially double height dining kitchen below measuring 36-feet in length.

 

Originally used as a coach house to No. 24, in 1960, a year after the main house was converted into five flats, No. 24a was extended and turned into a house in its own right. Two storeys were added to the designs of architects Knapton & Deane on the instructions of an Aston Martin racing team driver named Noël Cunningham-Reid (1930 – 2017) and what resulted was a three-storey, two bay residence.

 

No. 24a was home to Jeffrey and Mary Archer in the 1970s and the street features in the spectacularly successful novelist’s 2008 bestselling work A Prisoner of Birth and his 2015 ‘Clifton Chronicles’ series novel Mightier than the Sword. It was whilst living here that the couple’s two sons were born and they supposedly only sold what Dame Mary later described to a court in 2001 as their “lovely” home after “hugely incautious” investments almost bankrupted them. “We’ve explored the further reaches of ‘for better and for worse’ than most couples,” the solar power conversion expert subsequently added.

 

Agents Knight Frank seek £6.5 million or £2,081 per square foot for 24a The Boltons and whomever buys it will certainly be able to laud that they live in one of the best addresses in London without it being a work of fiction. In Hyacinth Bucket-esque fashion, however, they won’t, of course, bring up that they actually live in the cheapest and smallest house there.

 

The Names & Numbers – 24a The Boltons, London, SW10 9SU, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, United Kingdom

  • July 2020 – For sale for an asking price of £6.5 million ($8.2 million, €7.3 million or درهم30 million) through estate agents Knight Frank, a figure 71.1% higher than the 2007 sale price.
  • March 2007 – Sold for £3.8 million ($4.9 million, €4.2 million or درهم17.6 million).
  • 1972 to 1976 – Home to Lord Archer and Dame Mary Archer DBE, then known as Mr Jeffrey and Dr Mary Archer. Their sons, James and William, were born during this period in 1972 and 1974.

Other Notable Residents of The Boltons

Between 1999 and 2006, Madonna owned a house in The Boltons and other well-known residents have included Sir Julian and Dame Paddy Ridsdale.

 

  • 8 The Boltons – Douglas Fairbanks Jr.  KBE (1909 – 2000), actor, lived there in the 1950s with his wife Mary Lee Hartford, former wife Huntington Hartford, the A&P supermarket heir.
  • 14 The Boltons – Otho Stuart (1863 – 1930), Shakespearean actor-manager, lived there, exact dates unknown.
  • 19 The Boltons – The Rt. Hon. Anthony Crosland (1918 – 1977), Labour Party politician, author and one-time lover of Roy Jenkins, lived there, exact dates unknown.
  • 20 The Boltons (also known as ‘The Grove’) – Colin MacInnes (1914 – 1976), author, lived there, exact dates unknown. For a time in the 20th century, the building also served as Our Lady’s Convent along with 21 The Boltons.
  • 24 The Boltons – Sir William Gilbert (1836 – 1911), playwright and one half of Gilbert and Sullivan, lived in the house between 1877 and 1884 and wrote  six  of  his  best  known  comic  operas  there beginning  with The Sorcerer in 1877, HMS Pinafore in 1878, The Pirates of Penzance in 1879, Patience in 1881, Iolanthe in 1882 and Princess Ida in 1884. Gilbert moved from No. 24 The Boltons in 1884 to a newly built house nearby at No. 39 Harrington Gardens.
  • 29 The Boltons – Used as an infant school for fifteen years after the Second World War.

 

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Cheaper Than Fiction – A Bargain in The Boltons – Cheapest, smallest house on the best side of one of London’s most sought after streets comes up for sale; the tardis like building was home to novelist-politician Jeffrey Archer and his scientist wife Mary in the 1970s – 24a The Boltons, London, SW10 9SU, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, United Kingdom for sale for an asking price of £6.5 million ($8.2 million, €7.3 million or درهم30 million), a figure 71.1% higher than the 2007 sale price through estate agency Knight Frank.
The kitchen itself is dominated by a central island unit.
Cheaper Than Fiction – A Bargain in The Boltons – Cheapest, smallest house on the best side of one of London’s most sought after streets comes up for sale; the tardis like building was home to novelist-politician Jeffrey Archer and his scientist wife Mary in the 1970s – 24a The Boltons, London, SW10 9SU, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, United Kingdom for sale for an asking price of £6.5 million ($8.2 million, €7.3 million or درهم30 million), a figure 71.1% higher than the 2007 sale price through estate agency Knight Frank.
A lower ground floor room described as a “snug” is used presently as a space to watch television.
Cheaper Than Fiction – A Bargain in The Boltons – Cheapest, smallest house on the best side of one of London’s most sought after streets comes up for sale; the tardis like building was home to novelist-politician Jeffrey Archer and his scientist wife Mary in the 1970s – 24a The Boltons, London, SW10 9SU, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, United Kingdom for sale for an asking price of £6.5 million ($8.2 million, €7.3 million or درهم30 million), a figure 71.1% higher than the 2007 sale price through estate agency Knight Frank.
The first floor consists of a master bedroom suite with a bedroom with an undemised balcony, a dressing room and a shower room.
Cheaper Than Fiction – A Bargain in The Boltons – Cheapest, smallest house on the best side of one of London’s most sought after streets comes up for sale; the tardis like building was home to novelist-politician Jeffrey Archer and his scientist wife Mary in the 1970s – 24a The Boltons, London, SW10 9SU, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, United Kingdom for sale for an asking price of £6.5 million ($8.2 million, €7.3 million or درهم30 million), a figure 71.1% higher than the 2007 sale price through estate agency Knight Frank.
The dressing room itself.
Cheaper Than Fiction – A Bargain in The Boltons – Cheapest, smallest house on the best side of one of London’s most sought after streets comes up for sale; the tardis like building was home to novelist-politician Jeffrey Archer and his scientist wife Mary in the 1970s – 24a The Boltons, London, SW10 9SU, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, United Kingdom for sale for an asking price of £6.5 million ($8.2 million, €7.3 million or درهم30 million), a figure 71.1% higher than the 2007 sale price through estate agency Knight Frank.
One of two bedrooms on the second floor.
Cheaper Than Fiction – A Bargain in The Boltons – Cheapest, smallest house on the best side of one of London’s most sought after streets comes up for sale; the tardis like building was home to novelist-politician Jeffrey Archer and his scientist wife Mary in the 1970s – 24a The Boltons, London, SW10 9SU, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, United Kingdom for sale for an asking price of £6.5 million ($8.2 million, €7.3 million or درهم30 million), a figure 71.1% higher than the 2007 sale price through estate agency Knight Frank.
The other second floor bedroom.
Cheaper Than Fiction – A Bargain in The Boltons – Cheapest, smallest house on the best side of one of London’s most sought after streets comes up for sale; the tardis like building was home to novelist-politician Jeffrey Archer and his scientist wife Mary in the 1970s – 24a The Boltons, London, SW10 9SU, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, United Kingdom for sale for an asking price of £6.5 million ($8.2 million, €7.3 million or درهم30 million), a figure 71.1% higher than the 2007 sale price through estate agency Knight Frank.
There are two bathrooms and two shower rooms in the house.
Cheaper Than Fiction – A Bargain in The Boltons – Cheapest, smallest house on the best side of one of London’s most sought after streets comes up for sale; the tardis like building was home to novelist-politician Jeffrey Archer and his scientist wife Mary in the 1970s – 24a The Boltons, London, SW10 9SU, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, United Kingdom for sale for an asking price of £6.5 million ($8.2 million, €7.3 million or درهم30 million), a figure 71.1% higher than the 2007 sale price through estate agency Knight Frank.
The floor plan shows how the tardis like building gets bigger as you go further back into it.
Cheaper Than Fiction – A Bargain in The Boltons – Cheapest, smallest house on the best side of one of London’s most sought after streets comes up for sale; the tardis like building was home to novelist-politician Jeffrey Archer and his scientist wife Mary in the 1970s – 24a The Boltons, London, SW10 9SU, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, United Kingdom for sale for an asking price of £6.5 million ($8.2 million, €7.3 million or درهم30 million), a figure 71.1% higher than the 2007 sale price through estate agency Knight Frank.
The situation of 24a The Boltons is on the “favoured” western crescent of this ritzy street.
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Matthew Steeples
A graduate of the London School of Economics, Matthew Steeples is a writer and marketing consultant. He conceived The Steeple Times as a media arena to fill the void between the Mail Online, The Huffington Post and such organs as the New York Social Diary in 2012.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Knock it down!!!!! It is a dump!!!!! Basically a shack with two floors added above and one below!!!!!!! Swing in with the wrecking ball!!!!!! Overpriced crap!!!!!!!!!

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