It’s customary in London’s energetic property market for buildings to change uses several times. But few have had multiple lives like Bentley Priory. The former mansion house in Stanmore, north west London, was originally a grand, private home designed by legendary architect Sir John Soanes, whose work also includes the Bank of England and the dining room at 10 Downing Street.
Now, it’s a collection of private homes – ranging from one, two and three bedroom apartments and houses – and there are only a few chances left to live in these historic grounds. Number 3 Marquess Villa (pictured right) is one of a select number of Grade-II listed mews houses that won an award for its developer City & Country last year. With 2,110sqft of space, three bedrooms and original features like high ceilings, sweeping staircases and ornate cornicing, it’s valued at £1.4m.
Built in 1776, the mews sits on a 57-acre estate, including Italian-style landscape gardens protected by English Heritage. Various mews and halls were added to the original building until Frederick Gordon – described as the Napoleon of the hotel world by the Stanmore tourist board – bought it in 1882 and turned it into a luxurious hotel. A large part of modern Stanmore owes its existence to Gordon, including the train service from Harrow to Stanmore which Gordon had extended for the convenience of his guests.
But the glamour days of Bentley Priory ended when it became a very practical part of the Second World War effort. Its position at the top of Stanmore Hill gave it an unrivalled vantage point for spotting incoming planes and the RAF made it the headquarters of fighter command during the Battle of Britain. Now, City & Country, along with housebuilders Barratt London, have restored the mansion’s facade and its surrounding buildings back to their former glory.
“We tried to retain as much of the essential character as we could because that’s what makes the property unique,” says City & Country sales manager Nina Basey-Fisher. “When I’m showing people around, they love to hear the stories of what went on here and know that they’re the next part in this property’s history.”
Available for £1.4m; 0208 950 5959 / cityandcountry.co.uk.