Friday 25 October 2019 6:39 am

Property of the Week: This Regent's Park mansion was the setting for a Victorian scandal

Owning a neoclassical mansion in Regent’s Park would be quite nice in itself. Buy this former ambassadorial residence that has just come to the market on Cumberland Terrace, though, and you will also be able to retrace the steps of 19th century royalty, artists and high society.

The grade I-listed, five-bedroom mansion was built in 1828 by Crown architect John Nash, who was asked by the Prince Regent (later King George IV) to build a grand terrace for his friends and relatives.

In 1839 the home was bought by Spanish deputy ambassador Don Pedro de Zulueta, as it was close to the then-Spanish embassy at Hertford House in Marylebone. It was a tense time for Anglo-Spanish relations: Spain had a child monarch, Queen Isabella II, who was crowned aged three in 1833, and her government was deeply unpopular as it had started a costly war with Morocco.

Don Pedro met with then-prime minister, Lord Melbourne at the house to try and gain British support for the war, as well as entertaining Queen Victoria’s mother, Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, who was a political schemer and relative of the Spanish royal family.

Things got worse for Don Pedro, who was later put on trial at London’s Old Bailey, charged with financing illegal slave trading voyages. Although he was subsequently acquitted, the trial of a wealthy diplomat who mixed with the prime minister and Queen Victoria caused a scandal in Victorian England, with journalists and onlookers waiting daily outside the Regent’s Park mansion for updates.

In 1873 it was bought by Portuguese aristocrat Baron Alonza, who mixed in a café society circle including artist James Whistler, Oscar Wilde and theatre owner Henry Labouchère. West End gossips whispered that Alonza, was a spy for the Portuguese government but nothing was ever proven.

The 5,271 sq ft house includes two reception rooms, a 12-seater dining room, family kitchen, library, orangery and study, and there is also a separate 950 sq ft, two-bedroom mews house in the grounds. Outside there are storage vaults, a rear garden, front courtyard with private carriage driveway, roof garden and first-floor balcony. The home is being sold by Beauchamp Estates for £11.5m.

Gary Hersham, founding director, highlights its “palace-like Neoclassical façade” and says it would be an “exceptional family home set in leafy Regent’s Park.”