Arabian Knight: 27 The Vale, The Chelsea Home Fit for a Tsar
- By Adam Foster
- 29 June 2015
Historically referred to as The Russian House, 27 The Vale provides 5,370 sq ft of accommodation, six bedrooms, bespoke vaulted reception room and large home cinema room. Positioned prominently on The Vale, the home commands an enviable view down Mallord Street.
The façade is a genuine Russian dacha, constructed for a ‘turn-of-the-century exhibition’ in Crystal Palace between 1890-1900, before being purchased by architect F G Williams and transformed into a family home.
The black clapboard façade is commonplace in Russia but is unique to London, providing a one-of-a-kind home preserved in Chelsea folklore, eminently featured in Lord Snowdon’s 2000 photography portfolio, London Sight Unseen.
HISTORY OF DACHAS
Translated as ‘something given’ dachas were first developed in rural areas of Russia, forming part of larger estates gifted from tsars to loyal vassals. Traditionally made from solid oak, dachas were used as second home or holiday retreat. Russian aristocracy used dachas for special and cultural gatherings, such as masquerade balls and summer parties. By the 19th century, the wooden homes became popular retreats for the upper and middle classes, usually escaping the demands of city life.
The wealthy classes of Russia have added a new dynamic to the typical dacha, comparable in size and décor to mansions, with all the amenities of a five-star hotel.
27 The Vale provides a five-storey family home. Entering through a classic entrance hall, visitors are greeted by a sitting room, on the same floor is a kitchen/breakfast room, large dining room, guest bathroom and spacious conservatory that opens onto a 1,469-sq-ft decked garden.
Located on the lower ground floor is a guest bedroom suite, storage room, fully equipped gymnasium, wine cellar and large cinema room. Moving up to the first floor is a room that best defines the home: a well-appointed vaulted reception room, featuring a generously high barrel vaulted coffered ceiling curved ceiling.
The entire first floor is Asian-inspired, with artworks originally curated by the homeowner from far-flung regions of the Eastern hemisphere adorning each wall. The guest bedroom suite is of traditional Chinese style, with feature hand–carved wood furnishings. Maintaining the oriental theme the guest bedroom is equipped with a sink from the First Class carriages of the Orient Express. The study is spacious with dual aspect views and a personal library, however, the room could also be transformed into a sixth bedroom.
The master bedroom suite occupies the entire second floor, commanding views directly through to the private gardens of Elm Park Gardens at the rear, as well as directly down the quaint Mallord Street at the front. The master bedroom suite also enjoys a spacious walk-in wardrobe.
Two further bedroom suites occupy the third floor, providing suitable space for the children of the house or further room for guests.
Jake Russell comments: “This is one of Chelsea’s finest properties, a real gem in the crown of the area. The Chelsea dacha has been around for over 100 years and is a fabulously classic family retreat in the heart of Chelsea. 27 The Vale has everything the modern family needs, from cinema and recreational spaces to a large garden and an array of bedrooms. West facing to the rear, the property enjoys a rare aspect, creating amazing light in each room at the back of the home.
“Typically, as the name of the property suggests, we would expect to see interest from a Russian family that love Chelsea and want a home away from home with a spacious garden. However we also expect to see interest across the spectrum as this unique is in a quaint leafy area, within moments of the city and on the doorstep of London’s finest shopping promenade.”
27 The Vale has an enchanting history, a 20th century edition to The Vale, a street that dates back to 1836, originally home to four dwellings and a deer-park. Surviving deadly bombing raids during World War Two, the house played a role in the First World War, providing a base for the British Red Cross during the entire conflict.
The Chelsea dacha also played a prominent role in the history of famous supermarket magnates, The Sainsbury family, with Lord Alan Sainsbury, grandson of founder John James Sainsbury, occupying the Russo-inspired home from the 1920s.
His son John Davan Sainsbury (now Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover) was born at 27 The Vale, later becoming famous for taking J. Sainsbury’s onto the London Stock Exchange in 1973, which at the time was the largest floatation in history.
Following the Sainsbury’s residence of the home, Conservative politician Sir Richard Hamilton Glyn, a former army commander in the Second World War, occupied the house. A Member of Parliament for North Dorset for 23 years, he retired as a politician in 1970. Possessing a key interest in training canines, Sir Glyn held the role as Chairman of Crufts for ten years, as well as chairing the Kennel Club.