One Of Curzon Street’s Oldest Houses and Nancy Mitford’s World War II Mayfair ‘billet’ For Sale


One of Curzon Street’s oldest houses, dating from circa 1785, which served as Nancy Mitford’s billet during her stint with the Auxiliary Fire Service in WWII, is offered for sale. The stunning five storey Georgian townhouse currently owed by Frank Sawkins, founder of niche fine fragrance and gentleman’s grooming company Czech and Speake, is available exclusively through Beauchamp Estates.

Located on one of the principal streets in London’s premier district and conservation area, Mayfair, the Curzon Street property has been refurbished and designed to an exceptional standard: as might be expected from the man responsible for signature Czech & Speake cologne No. 88. The property has been fully refurbished in a style that impeccably blends classic and contemporary design, to create a comfortable three bedroom contemporary residence, offering wonderful entertaining space, with working fireplaces, balcony, secluded terraces and a dumbwaiter connecting terrace, principal kitchen and secondary kitchen.

Curzon Street was built circa 1705 by George Augustus Curzon, 3rd Viscount Howe, from whom the street takes its name. Mayfair was initially developed for the wealthy and titled, something that has changed little in the last three hundred years. Number45 Curzon Street was built circa 1785 and was initially occupied by a widow, Temperance Rhodes. Historical records reveal quite a noble and well connected list of residents subsequent to Ms Rhodes, including the Hon James Hamilton Stanhope, Son of the 3rd Earl Stanhope and nephew of William Pitt the Younger, he was well-known in society and in military circles, having seen service with Sir John Moore, Lord Lyndedoch and the Duke of Wellington. By 1818 the property had passed to Will Coleman, an upholsterer, which is the first record of trade at the address, and by 1834 a furnishing and iron monger named James Smith.

Surgeon James Metcalf Appleton acquired the property before 1843: a naval surgeon who then passed the property to his son, Thomas Cass Aplleton who by 1883 was running a chemist’s shop at the address, with the upper floors let to Colonel the Honourable James Pierce Maxwell, a son of the 6th Baron Farnham. By 1888 the property had been acquired by physician Henry Roxburgh Fuller, physician to St George’s Hospital on Hyde Park Corner (now world class luxury hotel The Lanesborough) and to H.R.H. The Duke of Cambridge, uncle of Queen Victoria.

In 1911 another man of medicine, Harold Dearden, acquired the property: his specialty being psychology, having served in Flanders during WWI. Dearden wrote and published a number of successful books.

In 1926 the house was purchased by Sydney Frederick Studd, who occupied the ground floor as an antique shop, renting the upper floors to Cecilia Ivy Knight, later to become Ivy O’Neil-Dunne. Dunne was friends with novelist Nancy Mitford, the eldest of the Mitford sisters, who was regarded as one of the “Bright Young People” on the London social scene between the wars. As one of the gay, tin-hatted, members of the Auxiliary Fire Service she stayed at 45 Curzon Street while keeping the night watch, allegedly alternately resting on a make-shift bed and running into the street, exhorting her companions to “Come and look at the V1s. They are so pretty. Do admit”: V1s being the flying bomb – also known to the Allies as the buzz bomb or doodlebug!

Curzon Street runs from Park Lane to Berkeley Square, with the Curzon Street house located in the Shepherds Market area of Mayfair: the intricate and historical streets and alleys have helped ensure that this exclusive area of central London has retained a human scale and village like feel. The wealth of amenities in the immediate area are substantial from excellent transport links (Green Park Underground and Bond Street Cross Rail (due in Summer 2021)) and art galleries (Dover Street, Cork Street and The Royal Academy), to world class restaurants and retail, in addition to easy access to some of London’s finest parks (Green Park, St James’ and Hyde Parks).

Re-built and fully restored with modern extensions, which include windows and doors in the contemporary extension homage to Maison de Verre, Paris, designed and finished to the highest specification by an experienced and well-respected architect and interior designer.

With direct, private street access, the property has three separate gates and doors: wrought iron gate, original 18th century front door (fully restored and carriage hand finished in black enamel) and inner door leading onto marble hallway with American solid oaks stairs and floors, random width and pelleted boards, which continue up the stairs to the first floor and throughout the property. The Panasonic PBX telephone system throughout also allows release of the front and inner door from each handset.

Leading off the first floor landing: to the rear, is the principal dining room, with silver grey granite floor, entertaining kitchen by Bulthaup, with stainless steel bar incorporating teppanyaki, BBQ grill and induction hob, stainless steel sink, work top and fridge with a dumb waiter to upper kitchen and top terrace. The space is filled with lots of natural light, flooding in through the glass bricks and glazed door, which provides access to a small, secure, rear south-west facing terrace. The dining area accommodates a table that comfortably seats 8-10 guests.

Also located on the first floor, accessed directly from the landing and double doors off the reception room is the study: fitted-out with custom designed bookshelves, plan chest with drawing platform and cupboards in dark stained oak, with internal window opening into the dining area that allows natural light to enter the study. To the front of the property is the reception room with 2.7m (8.8 ft) ceiling height, two sets of double mahogany doors and two French windows, with traditional shutters, overlooking Curzon Street. Providing a stunning focal point for the room is a working Georgian antique grey marble fireplace, above which sits a hidden flat screen TV connected to Bose home cinema installation.