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Interior design,


In our address book


Interior design,


In our address book

A high society home in Holland Park


Words by Jake Russell

How one mansion in Phillimore Gardens is filled with historical character

The early residents

Phillimore Gardens is a grand street running parallel with the eastern side of Holland Park. It was built by the Phillimore family, who acquired the land in the early eighteenth century and still play a part in the running of the estate. At the time, this land was mostly open fields, but by the mid-nineteenth century Charles Phillimore had developed a series of streets.

The first houses on Phillimore Gardens were constructed between 1860 and 1861. A local builder, William Henry Cullingford, was employed to construct the southern side. The result was two rows of substantial, semi-detached villas in the Italianate style, with Doric porticos and windows dressings. Their early residents belonged to the upper professional classes, including a pair of celebrated admirals, a distinguished politician, and an important barrister.

An opulent interior

The property currently for sale is one of Cullingford’s houses. Its façade features a broad bay window, a stucco base and window surrounds, stucco quoins in the corners and a stucco cornice for the roof. It is also set back from the street, with the front garden offering added privacy.

At the centre of the house, a magnificent staircase rises from the lower ground floor to the third floor. This gives the interior a wonderful sense of spectacle, while also bringing brightness down from the skylight to each level of the property.

However, the most impressive space is probably the double drawing room on the first floor. It’s furnished in an opulent fashion and filled with classical motifs: moulded columns at the sides of the central archway, pilasters and friezes surrounding each door. At present, the room extends across the width of two windows – although a small side annex could easily be opened up to provide added width and an additional window – and runs the entire length of the house.

A nod to Rome

Towards the rear, a full-length French door opens onto a recessed balcony, overlooking the gardens of Essex Villas and Stafford Terrace. Thanks to the house’s position, the view is uninterrupted down the entire length of these streets, creating a unique urban vista. In fact, the open aspect resembles a valley, with the backs of the houses like steep cliffs on either side.

More classical details can be found elsewhere in the house. For instance, the mosaic tiles on the floor of the front hall recall the entrance to a Roman villa. Meanwhile, the marble bathtub in the principal ensuite, along with the marble sinks and gilded taps, evokes the luxury of a Roman baths.

The house belonged to the same person for almost forty-five years and they have left their mark on the place. For example, the owner had a love of horses, and above one of the fireplaces hangs a portrait of their most successful thoroughbred, Hallo Dandy. This horse was the winner of the 1984 Grand National, ridden by a Welsh jockey named Neale Doughty. In addition, the staircase walls are decorated with an attractive collection of French seventeenth-century prints, demonstrating a range of different dressage movements.

Much-loved family home

These characterful decorative details are typical of the entire property. Any visitor will notice the bold green colour schemes of the dining and drawing rooms, as well as the ornate paper and fabrics decorating the bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms. They will also notice the antique furniture and beautiful bronzes on display throughout the house.

The previous owner enjoyed entertaining and the house is perfectly proportioned for social events. For instance, the dining room can accommodate forty people for dinner, while the kitchen was extended to include a light-filled breakfast area and the large half-landing between the first and second floors also enjoys the glorious garden views.

It’s now time for the house to be passed on to a new owner, who will have their own vision for the place. However, they will find inspiration in the rich history of the street and the elegant taste of its former owner. Taken together, this property shows how to mix the traditional grandeur of a London mansion with the comfort of a much-loved family home.


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