One of the best addresses in London, and the jewel in the crown of the Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor Estate, demand for property Eaton Square refuses to abate. As one of the few remaining residential central London garden squares, the houses here have long been frequented by the great and the good, from politicians to film stars.
The iconic Grade II listed stucco façades, pillars, and balconies all set behind immaculate black railings speak of a time when London was a more civilised place, and in fact one of the most attractive things about Eaton Square is its history.Developed by Thomas Cubitt in the 1820s, its location made it the perfect stopping off point en route to the Kings Road, then used as a private road by Royalty headed for Kew or Hampton Court. This made Eaton Square the place to live if you wanted the ear of the monarch, and although owners’ direct influence with the Crown may have somewhat diminished, an element of cache remains. ‘It’s arguably the most famous residential location in the world,’ says Michael Davis from Ayrton Wylie, who often sell property on the square.
In terms of buying property, the first thing to know is houses on Eaton Square don’t appear often on the open market. Originally built as townhouses but by large converted into lateral flats in the postwar 1950s, the properties all still maintain a wonderful charm. The Grosvenor Estate manages the majority (334 out of 384) of the properties and only around 10% of these come on to the market each year either to buy or to rent, according to Residential Investment Director John E T Clark, and each will only suit certain buyers as every apartment is highly individual.
Of course the other obvious reason it’s such a challenge to buy here is the strong demand: ‘We had around 35 viewings for 100J, which went in three weeks for £11.25m, earlier this year,’ says Mr Clark. ‘Demand has picked up from January when we had a fabulous penthouse which took three months to sell,’ he adds in horror, although as his slowest sale this compares favourably with the average time to market this year, which has hovered around twelve weeks, while many London properties have been on for very much longer. Current properties being offered include a penthouse and a duplex flat, and the penthouse has already had 50 viewings in a couple of weeks and an offer made, and although it wasn’t accepted it’s not expected to be on the market for long.
Another stumbling block en route to Eaton Square is competition with long-time residents who, although they own many houses throughout their lives, always remain in some capacity and have the advantage of being in-the-know in terms of what might come on: ‘There is lots of movement around the square,’ says Mr Clark. ‘People move within it – they upsize and downsize, or choose a garden flat – they even move away and move back depending on their needs at the time.’ The sense of community is helped by the six shared gardens which provide some of the wonderful views from the flats, one for dog walking (rotated annually) and one of which currently sprouts allotments for a local charity – all flats come with use of the square gardens and tennis courts subject to an annual fee for upkeep and pets are welcome.
Refurbishing flats here is a costly and sometimes painstaking process for Grosvenor, particularly bearing in mind the listing of the properties – elements like original floorboards, even if they’re to be covered in carpet, have to given five star conservation treatment. The latest flats to complete this process and come onto the market have been conceived in a wonderfully elegant modern style, developed by interior designer Alex Proby, in which one can easily imagine Bertie Wooster feeling at home. Built across two, three or four of the original houses, the properties are able to offer the kind lateral space which is extremely difficult to find in other historic blocks of flats. Crucial elements for buyers are the impressive entrance halls, reception rooms and the bedrooms; owners as well as renters tend not to mind small kitchens as they cook rarely, although two kitchen entrances allow for caterers and staff to come and go on nights in.
The combination of outdoor space and natural light achieved by turning many windows into small balconies with French doors also makes a huge difference to properties which could previously have been gloomy. ‘We’re used to fussy residents,’ says Mr Clark, ‘This is an environment where an overflowing bath can be not just inconvenient but the ruination of a Picasso so everything, from dripping trays built into the floor under the bath, to large French windows in the drawing rooms, is pre-thought out. ’
For those who aren’t total Knightsbridge nuts, Eaton Square offers a central base providing peace and quiet in the very centre of London, with an easy escape west to the country, or the airport, when required. Keeping you ear to the ground, and using connections to anyone already living on the square are excellent ways of starting to find out what might be coming onto the market soon – and when you see a suitable property move quickly – property here continues to sell fast, whether owners are interested in bending the Royal ear or not.
Property available to buy on Eaton Square
Three bedroom penthouse £4.25m
45 Eaton Square is a fantastic three-bedroom penthouse on the south terrace which has been completely refurbished and would make an excellent pied a terre in the capital. The interior design is classic and combines dark wood, high ceilings and tasteful decoration. Windows have been extended to create French doors out to a balcony with lovely views over the square, and technology is state-of-the-art. The penthouse comprises: entrance hall, drawing room, dining room, kitchen, master bedroom with en suite bathroom, bedroom two with en suite bathroom and bedroom three, plus shower room, balcony and a comfort cooling system. The property is serviced by a lift and the caretakers of Eaton Square and the lease is a relatively long one of 74 years. The property extends to around 1,844 sq ft.
Three bedroom duplex flat with roof terrace £6.25m
42 Eaton Square is a large duplex flat with a tasteful wow factor. Although the property has been renovated to include all mod cons the work was undertaken in such a way that much of the period detail remains, particularly in the cornicing, the use of space and the wonderful staircase to the second floor. The flat has an outstanding spacious sitting room with wonderful French windows out to the balcony. The house has an entrance hall, drawing room, dining room, kitchen, master bedroom with dressing area en suite bathroom, bedroom three, shower room, guest WC, utility room, lots of storage and a roof terrace plus three balconies. The property is serviced by a lift and caretakers from Eaton Square and the lease is 74 years. This property extends to around 2,029sq ft.
For further information or to arrange a viewing please contact Charles Copper of Grosvenor on 020 7312 6193 or visit www.grosvenorlettings.co.uk.