The former homes of several prominent gay and lesbian figures in the U.K. have been awarded protected status.
Properties include 34 Tite Street in London’s posh Chelsea neighborhood, where Irish playwright and novelist Oscar Wilde lived with his wife until his trial for “indecency” in 1895 when he was sentenced to two years hard labor after being found guilty of engaging in sexual acts with other men.
Red House in Suffolk, where composer Benjamin Britten, lived with his partner, the tenor Peter Pears, and the 1930s home of Gerald Schlesinger and Christopher Tunnard built “in response to homophobia,” have also been included.
The latter was included for its architectural significance. As homosexuality was illegal when it was built in 1936, it was designed so the couple’s bedroom could be split into two rooms to preserve their privacy. This maintained the deception that Schlesinger and Tunnard slept in different bedrooms.
Historic England, a government-backed body, decided to “list” the former homes of several prominent LGBT figures as part of an initiative to tackle a lack of recognition for the major influences and contributions of communities, including LGBTQ and black and minority ethnic groups. Some were already listed, but had their status upgraded.
“Our Pride of Place project is one step on the road to better understanding just what a diverse nation we are, and have been for many centuries. At a time when historic LGBTQ venues are under particular threat, this is an important step. The impact of the historic environment on England’s culture must not be underestimated, and we must recognize all important influences,” said Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England.
In the U.K., a listed building marks special architectural and historic interest, and also brings it under the consideration of the planning system to protect it for future generations. The older a building is, the more likely it is to be listed.
However, there are differing opinions over whether a listed building makes a home more desirable among buyers. While buyers like homes where important figures once lived and they may qualify for grants or tax relief for renovation, it can often be difficult—and in many cases extremely costly—to secure permission to make changes to these homes because of their protected status.
“Buildings are listed because of their historic importance and architectural significance, so clearly buyers are attracted to them because they know they are special and also supply is limited,” Chris Lanitis, a director at Amazon Property, said.
“However what often puts buyers off about purchasing listed properties is their age and the local authority approvals that need to be sought before refurbishment or repair work is undertaken.”
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