This semi-detached family house in a quiet corner of Chelsea seems inconspicuous enough, if a little dated on the inside. But it’s actually the scene of an impressive feat of British espionage that may have averted World War III.
Nineteen Upper Cheyne Row has starred in numerous Cold War TV dramas over the years, but few are aware of the very real drama in its past. The five bedroom house was once home to former British MI5 spy Greville Wynne during the 70s and acted as the main rendezvous point between him and KGB informant Colonel Oleg Penkovsky.
Wary of meeting in public, they convinced their respective agencies to fund a bar in Wynne’s Chelsea home, so they could get the other one drunk – and spilling secrets – in private. The KGB and MI5 offered £500 each – worth around £10,000 today – but the bar only cost £100 to build so the pair spent the rest on booze.
It proved to be a good investment on M15’s part though as Penkovsky handed over vital information on Russia’s strategic military sites in Cuba when the Cuban Missile Crisis was at its peak.
The bar’s upholstery has been changed from white leather to brown but otherwise Wynne’s original design has been largely untouched. “The entire home is a 1960s time capsule,” says Jake Russell, a director at specialist Chelsea estate agent Russell Simpson, which is handling the sale. “with original oak-panelled ceilings, bespoke wood cabinets and furnishings, as well as of course the bar that’s steeped in so much history.”
Guests enter the house through a 700sqft tree-lined garden that leads into an entrance hall and the bar. The master bedroom suite occupies the whole of the first floor, along with a study, and has access to a roof terrace overlooking a 1,000sqft garden. The vast grounds also contain a private cottage with bedroom, bathroom and kitchen diner for guests or staff.
|Local Area Prices|
|Time to Canary Wharf||20 mins|
|Time to Liverpool Street||24 mins|
|Nearest stations||Sloane Square|
Contact Russell Simpson on 020 7225 0277 or visit russellsimpson.co.uk