Listing of the Day
Location: Surrey, United Kingdom
Price: £8.6 million (US$11.24 million)
There are scant examples of modernist design in the U.K. that’s more impressive than St. Ann’s Court, an iconic Grade II* listed white house with what heritage organization Historic England describes as “among the most interesting and complete 1930s interiors to survive” in the country.
The house is one of the only 5.5% of all listed buildings in the U.K. to have a Grade II* distinction. Those buildings are considered by Historic England to be of particular importance and are protected and preserved for future generations.
It’s “very, very rare” to find something so impressive of this type so conveniently located to London, said agent James Cleland of Knight Frank.
Holding a fascinating place in LGBTQ history, renowned modernist architect Sir Raymond McGrath adapted the house between 1936 and 1937 in response to homophobia. The house was built for stockbroker Gerald Schlesinger and his partner, landscape architect Christopher Tunnard. The design allowed the master bedroom they shared to be separated into two when there were visitors to maintain the illusion that the couple slept apart.
This is the first time the distinctive home has been on the market for 20 years.The current owner, who fell in love with its architecture, is downsizing. “It’s the kind of place that pulls on your heart strings,” said Mr. Cleland.
For sale is both the iconic Round House, which is about 6,500 square feet in size, and the converted 19th century Coach House next door, which is painted a Tuscan pink, at a further 4,500 square feet. Both buildings are set on eight acres of grounds off a secluded country lane in St Ann’s Hill, Surrey.There are six bedrooms and four bathrooms in the Round House, and an apartment in the Coach House.
This is an unusual example of a modern take on the English country house tradition. Its grounds are a reworking of an 18th century landscape scheme, and have contributed to it receiving a heritage listing.
The circular rooms have floor-to-ceiling glazing, offering the typical modernist “indoor/outdoor” feeling. In the master bedroom, the floor-to-ceiling windows lead out to a balcony wrapped in 200-year-old wisteria. The kitchen is inspired by Mondrian with bold primary colors; materials in the living areas include walnut and copper.
The owners have maintained and updated the interiors over the years but all are still careful in keeping with the original design. Architect Steve Marshall, at the time director at Munkenbeck+Marshall, oversaw the restoration, and also designed a pool house that has planning approval and could be realized by new owners.
The original architect, Robert McGrath, was Australian but worked for much of his career in Ireland as principal architect for the Office of Public Works. He had a hand in designing interiors for many famous Irish public buildings, including Dublin Castle and the Royal Hibernian Academy.
Roxy Music’s guitarist Phil Manzanera was a previous owner, and he built a top recording studio that’s still in the coach house. The current owner is a music producer, and it is a magnificent set-up for recording artists, Mr. Cleland said. Roxy Music put down some of its most famous tracks here, and it has also been used by Paul Weller, Robert Wyatt and David Gilmour.
The round house and its grounds, meanwhile, has been used in TV shows, advertisements and magazines, including in Agatha Christie’s “Poirot” series, BBC’s “Gardens Through Time” and fashion shoots such as the lookbook for Alexa Chung’s collection for British brand Marks & Spencer.
St. Ann’s Hill is mostly a nature reserve. It’s near Chertsey, a town in the Runnymede borough of Surrey. This is just 12 miles from central London, and 10 minutes from Heathrow Airport Terminal 5. You could commute directly into the city from nearby train stations Virginia Water, Ascot and Windsor to London Waterloo. This, along with its private schools, such as Eton; access to horse racing at Ascot; and the River Thames makes it an extremely sought after location with wealthy buyers from all over the world.
Listing agent: James Cleland, Knight Frank.
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