They first entered the public’s consciousness in the 1980s as the backdrop to Lady Diana Spencer being hounded like a kimono’d gazelle by the paps. Mansion blocks were the natural setting for the ultimate Sloane Changer and her kind. Rewind a century or two and it would’ve been mansions for the original girls about crown, the Sloane Endangered. Look them up in Debrett’s. Take Liz Chudleigh, maid of honour to a previous Princess of Wales. Her crash pad was Kingston House, Knightsbridge. An awe inspired guest gushed in 1762,
“Her house can justly be called a gem; it contains a quantity of handsome and costly furniture and other curiosities and objects of value, chosen and arranged with the greatest taste, so that you cannot fail to admire it greatly. Everything is in perfect harmony. The view, over Hyde Park, and at the back over Chelsea, is considered with truth one of the finest that could be pictured.”
Kingston House was pulled down in 1937.
A Twitch Upon the Thread
Like the fictional Marchmain House in St James’s, flats with 24 hour porters took its place. “They’re keeping the name,” says Lord Brideshead. And so, Kingston House was reborn, the exquisite manmade landscape of two acres retained. Enclosed and embraced behind spacious and quiet streets, all this had been planted a century ago so that, at about this date, it might be seen in its maturity. Leaf and flower and bird and sun-lit brick and shadow seem all to proclaim the glory of God. It’s a sequestered place of cloistral hush, beech faintly dusted with green and grey bare oak. Marchmain House was recorded on canvas by Charles Ryder. Country Life photographed Kingston House the forerunner for prosperity.
Peerman Premier’s offices are at Beauchamp Place cheek by jowl with Princess Diana’s restaurant of choice, San Lorenzo. The company specialises in luxury lets and property management in Belgravia, Chelsea, Kensington, Knightsbridge. No bridge-and-tunnel addresses, in other words. Flat 12 Kingston House South is typical Peerman Premier. Its linear lateral layout has been optimised by opening up the reception into the hallway and juggling around rooms to segregate the bedroom wing from more public areas. A terrace is the final consummation of the flat’s plan.
The light streaming in from the west is fresh green from the trees outside. All 150 square metres of Flat 12 have been refurbished. White crêpe de chine, dove grey tweed, biscuit coloured linen. Very English, very correct, bespoke but quite delicious. A place to play chemin de fer or watch one of the smart TVs, while warmed by the open fire. Bathrooms glitter with chromium plate and heated demist looking glass. A toothbrush is all that is needed to make this flat home. The Sloane Price Range is fixed at £3,250 a week for a minimum one year lease. Not bad, considering it would take over £5 million to buy the flat. It’s looking unusually cheerful today.
- Black and white photography © Country Life