The semi-detached house is now an unmodernised 1960s time capsule with original oak-panelled ceilings and bespoke wooden cabinets and furnishings. The property, which has a spacious south-facing garden and comes with a private one-bed cottage at the rear with its own separate access.
The Guardian: 19 Upper Cheyne Row Former Spy Pad
- By Adam Foster
- 03 July 2015
On the market with Russell Simpson for £6m is the former home of Greville Wynne, one of Britain’s top spies and a key man in MI5 and later MI6. In fact, 19 Upper Cheyne Row played a key role in shaping the events of the Cold War.
Wynne conducted secret meetings in this five-bedroom Grade II listed house with KGB informant Colonel Oleg Penkovsky, whose revelations played a major role in assisting the US during the Cuban missile crisis. Gatekeeper to critical Russian military information but secretly a British informant, Penkovsky was notoriously wary of meeting in public (correctly so, as he was eventually discovered and executed by the KGB in 1963) and would only meet with Wynne at his family home.
Both men enjoyed a drink and, during these meetings, they hatched a plan to construct a private bar in the four-storey house. They set out to convince their respective agencies – the KGB and MI5 – to fund its construction at Wynne’s home, each arguing that this would lead the other one to spill vital information once suitably seasoned with booze.
To the spies’ surprise, both agencies agreed to fund the project and provided £500 each – roughly equivalent to £10,000 today. It actually cost Wynne only £100 to have the bar built, leaving a £900 surplus which the pair spent on drinking and other forms of entertainment. The bar was the venue for numerous meetings between the two spies, as well as a host of parties made famous in the “Swinging 60s”.
It is still in the house and Wynne’s design is largely untouched. The house’s vendor heard this story directly from Wynne who sold the home to the current vendor’s grandfather in 1974 but continued to visit the infamous bar, sharing tales with the family of his life as a spy.