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January 16, 2014
Where to Live in London: Belgravia
Belgravia is situated South-West of Buckingham Palace in West London in the City of Westminster, just a short distance from Knightsbridge, Chelsea and Sloane Street. Belgravia is an address rich in history that has been made famous by its elegant stucco façade properties, garden squares as well as some of the celebrated residents who have lived here throughout time. Notable residents of Belgravia have included Roger Moore, Sean Connery, Vivien Leigh, Jose Mourinho, Neville Chamberlain, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Ian Fleming and Mozart.
Belgravia is named after Viscount Belgrave, one of the titles of the Duke of Westminster. Before developing the land in the 19th Century, the district was well known for another reason. The area was made up of marshland and was waterlogged, inhabited with highwaymen and other criminals. This was soon to change as Thomas Cubitt, a renowned builder of the time, was commissioned by the Grosvenor family to drain the land in order to build the foundations of property. Development of Belgravia began in the 1820s in the form of the classic elegant squares, streets and crescents that you can still see to this day.
Many of the properties in Belgravia are still owned by the Grosvenor Estate who typically grant long leases with various restrictions. As such the area has retained a strong sense of character as the residences are only used for residences, charities, embassies or professional institutes. This has meant that Belgravia still maintains its charm and elegance from the Regency period.
A lot of the properties in Belgravia converted from homes to embassies and the headquarters of charities and institutes after the Second World War. This gives the area an added sense of security. As the high-end residential property market continues to boom in London many of these are now being converted back to residences.
Within walking distance to many of London’s top attractions, and yet maintaining a sense of privacy amongst the leafy parks and gardens of the district, Belgravia is a fashionable and cosmopolitan address and a sought out area of London for the rich and famous, especially if your property is one of those that has a view of a leafy square.
So where would you choose to buy a home in Belgravia?
Eaton Square is the largest of Belgravia’s garden squares, situated around 6 private gardens with a tennis court for the sole use of residents. Consisting of 118 luxury apartments and houses, Thomas Cubitt started work on Eaton Square in 1826. Many of the original houses have now been converted into apartments by the Grosvenor Estate and have proven popular with overseas buyers.
In April 2013 a 4-bedroom property on Eaton Square sold for £10,950,000 (£4,156 per square foot).
Home to the first resident of Belgravia, the Earl of Essex, Belgrave Square was planned as the centrepiece of Belgravia Estate. People of prestige have resided in this square throughout history with Queen Victoria renting a home for her mother the Duchess of Kent. Today there are only a few remaining private homes in Belgrave Square, with the majority of buildings being occupied by embassies and offices.
It is rare for a property to come on the open market in Belgrave Square due to the dominance of the diplomatic property in the area. However, back in 2010 a 3 bedroom property was bought for £12,500,000 (£3,623 per square foot).
Once home to Mary Shelley, the creator of Frankenstein, and the late Baroness Margaret Thatcher, as well as other renowned historical figures such as Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands and the poet and critic Matthew Arnold, Chester Square is a smaller residential garden square, named after the city of Chester.
Back in March 2010 the BBC News website reported that Chester Square had an average property value of £6.7 million.
In 2012 a 7-bedroom house on Chester Square sold for £32,500,000 (£3,956 per square foot).
Lowndes Square runs parallel with Sloane Street and has recently been in the spotlight because of Chelsea FC owner Roman Ambramovich, who purchased two stucco houses consisting of apartments in 2008. He had planned to convert these properties into an 8-bedroom luxury home but Ambramovich later sold the property uncompleted for a rumoured £52 million.
In June 2012 a 4-bedroom property sold for £15,000,000 (£4,076 per square foot).
Wilton Crescent is located northwest and just a stone’s throw away from Belgrave Square. It has been the home to British politicians and ambassadors since the 19th century and is another sought after address in Belgravia.
In February 2013 a 7-bedroom house sold for £32,000,000 (£3,515 per square foot).