The Steeple Times: Laurence Olivier’s Love Nest
- By Adam Foster
- 09 May 2015
Built in 1850, Durham Cottage in Christchurch Street, Chelsea is a house “hidden behind a high dusty brick wall” that was the love nest of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh between 1937 and 1956. Now, in totally unmodernised condition, the house is for sale after failing to sell at auction(despite a bid of £6,980,000).
Totalling just 2,042 square foot in size and featuring 4 bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen, reception room and garage, Olivier and Leigh came to live there after splitting from their respective partners whilst working together on Fire over England.
For the next two decades, this former coachman’s cottage was the London home of the couple and run by their small staff of a cook-housekeeper, Lady Olivier’s personal maid and a daily cleaner.
Of living there, Lady Olivier told The Sydney Morning Herald in 1954:
“It is in London and we’ve furnished it for our life here… It has a lot of drawbacks. Nobody visiting it would ever dream it could be inconvenient or that those ‘fascinating’ stairs winding around, with the landing forming a balcony in the drawing-room, could be a nuisance”.
“Several years ago we built on the dining-room. Before that we used to eat in the entrance hall – you can imagine the drawbacks to that”.