EVERY street corner in London tells a thousand stories, and the same can be said of its buildings. But an unassuming family home in Primrose Hill, north London, probably has a few novels under its roof, given its connections to royal scandals and the invention of daylight savings time.
Elsworthy Road is on the market for an impressive £15m. The freehold townhouse was built in 1903 on the site of the former Eton and Middlesex Cricket Ground. The architects of the house, Harry Measures and Amos Faulkner, were inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement which advocated traditional craftsmanship using simple forms.
In the 1930s, the house was owned by Viscount Furness, a shipping magnate who was one of the richest men in the country at the time. His American wife, Lady Thelma Furness, was a friend – and suspected mistress – of the Prince of Wales at the time, even joining him on a safari holiday in east Africa. Lady Furness was also a close friend of a certain Wallis Simpson and introduced the pair to each other. Consequently, they made history when the prince became King Edward VIII and abdicated the throne to marry her.
“When we bought the house more than 30 years ago, it was dilapidated and it was three separate flats,” says Suki Swycher, who currently owns the property with her husband. “But I remember, when the building work was going on, that a couple walked by and told me Wallis and Ernest Simpson once lived here. We can only assume that at some point the Furness’ let the Simpsons use one of the apartments.
“Maybe the Simpsons were looking for a base in London, or perhaps they were between addresses, but the lady had a definite memory that they actually lived here at 48 Elsworthy Road. She even remembered seeing the Prince turning up at the house in his Bentley.”
Even the bricks and mortar of Elsworthy Road has historical connections. It was built by building firm William Willett which was a by-word for quality at the time. The founder’s son, also called William, joined the family construction business but went on to draft a pamphlet in 1916 called The Waste of Daylight, which successfully campaigned for British daylight savings time.
Quite apart from its rich history, Elsworthy Road is a grand, six-bedroom family home set behind a wide carriage drive with 6,559sqft of living space. It has a private garden to the rear but it’s also set on a coveted garden square. Its Arts and Crafts heritage lives on in the classical furnishings, wooden floors, bay windows and stone fireplace. The top floor is dedicated to a master bedroom suite, which is perfect for au pairs, live-in relatives or royal mistresses.
For viewings or more information, call Savills St John’s Wood on 020 3043 3600