IN London, homes with good river views are much sought-after and hard to come by – once you have one, you’re not likely to relinquish it. Homes with 80 metres of uninterrupted Thames frontage, however – not to mention 10 bedrooms and a ballroom – present a very, very rare opportunity for anyone with the readies to stump up. The asking price for Gordon House, which overlooks Richmond Lock, is £15m – hardly a snip, but for that you get a truly splendid stately home just a short walk over the river from Richmond (technically the house is in Twickenham). It’s the kind of place for which the words “well appointed” were pretty much invented.
As its sturdy red-brick construction suggests, Gordon House dates from the middle of the Victorian era. It’s now Grade II listed, and has been substantially restored by commercial developers Octagon. The interiors reflect an atmosphere of grand Victorian ambition – witness the marble pillars and gleaming chandeliers of the reception hall. There’s a rather fabulous wooden staircase there too, curling upwards to a landing with a balustrade – all classically elegant. Other original features include an impressive marble fireplace, some ornate plaster work and cornices that come from the hand of Robert Adam.
There are 10 bedrooms, the same number of bathrooms, and five reception rooms, including that magnificent ballroom. Both that and the chapel – but of course, every distinguished mansion must have its own chapel, this one beautifully renovated with classical archways and columns and a glass skylight roof – have the potential for converting into a swimming pool area if the new occupier fancies.
No matter how fabulous its interiors, a mansion without picturesque grounds is only half a mansion. Lucky, then, that Gordon House includes beautifully restored gardens, with formal hedging and a lake and fountain. There’s even an underground car park secreted away beneath the gardens. And then, of course, there’s the view. That long stretch of river includes Richmond Lock, with the wonderful iron footbridge – another slice of majestic Victoriana – arching over it. Beyond, Old Deer Park stretches away to Kew Gardens. Now that’s what you call a river view.
NEED TO KNOW | RICHMOND-ON-THAMES AND ITS ENVIRONS
Richmond is located 15 miles south west of central London, and is the end stop on one branch of the District Line. It’s 15 minutes by fast train to Waterloo.
Once the stomping ground of royalty, Richmond is considered London’s most attractive borough, and is famous for its royal parks (particularly the Deer Park, with 2,500 acres of hills), historic houses and riverside prettiness. The Thames links Kew Gardens, Richmond and Hampton Court Palace.
Rugby fans are near Twickenham stadium, the home of English rugby, while gardeners have Kew Gardens nearby.
There are some excellent food and drink options in the area. The Petersham Nurseries is an award-winning venue serving garden-fresh food (Skye Gyngell, the chef, has become a TV celebrity).
The Glasshouse and La Buvette are also at the very top of London’s gastronomic ladder, serving first-rate modern?European.