belgravia property lygon place for sale

Property of the Month: A former Italian embassy in Belgravia with bags of style

18 Mar 2024 | |By Anna Solomon

With a diplomatic past spanning World Wars, this ultra-luxe property is on the market for the first time in a century

Embassies tend to be rather grand places. Just take a look at Kensington Palace Gardens, the street which, as of February this year, was London’s most expensive, according to HomeViews. The address is home to various diplomatic buildings, including the Russian, Nepalese, Lebanese, Slovakian and Israeli embassies, and you need only take a peek beyond its elegant gate grounds to see why its properties fetch top dollar.

This month’s Property of the Month served as the Italian embassy, and later the office of the Italian Defence Attaché, for the best part of a century, and boasts a level of luxury to match, coming to market at a hefty £21.5 million. 

belgravia italian embassy property for sale
All images: Beauchamp Estates

This particular former embassy is not on Kensington Palace Gardens, but an equally distinguished Belgravia address: Lygon Place. This terrace of eight townhouse mansions has housed various notable residents, including diplomat Freeman Thomas, the Marquess of Willingdon and Viceroy of India, shipping tycoon Sir Fenwick Shadforth-Watts, and aristocrat Thomas Anson, the Fourth Earl of Lichfield. The address is also believed to have inspired the fictional home of Sir Hugo Drax, the protagonist in the James Bond novel, Moonraker; Ian Fleming lived on nearby Ebury Street for nearly a decade.

But the history of this Grade II-listed property goes back even further. The Edwardian building was constructed in 1900-1901, with a red-brick façade, Portland stone bay windows, and a gabled roofline.

In 1923, the mansion was acquired by the Italian government to serve as its embassy. During the ‘30s, the then-ambassador, Count Dino Grandi, used the property to entertain famous guests including aristocrat Lady Alexandra Curzon, wife of ‘Fruity’ Metcalfe, who was equerry (attendant) to Edward, Prince of Wales. Other guests included aristocrat and fascist Diana Mitford (sister of Nancy), David Lloyd George, and wife of Edward VIII, Wallis Simpson. Grandi sought peace between Italy and Britain prior to WWII but, in 1939, Mussolini removed him from his post, putting an end to the peace attempts.

Belgravia property for sale lygon place

Planning consent to convert the Lygon Place property back to residential was granted in 2006 and, between 2009 and 2011, the building was converted into a private home. It is now available on the open market for the first time since 1923 – over 100 years.

The former embassy is now a 7,948 sq ft residence located behind a gated driveway with a porter’s lodge. On the ground floor, an entrance hall boasts gorgeous chequered marble flooring and a guest cloakroom, next to a grand staircase that leads to the principal upper floors.

Entering these floors, you discover three reception rooms with parquet flooring, wall panelling, Regency-style marble fireplaces, and ceiling coving. The family kitchen is kitted out with high-gloss white and timber cabinets, marble worktops, and stone flooring, while the breakfast room is bordered by a bay window overlooking the garden. 

belgravia property Lygon Place garden

There are six en suite bedrooms, with the principal suite occupying a private floor; it has two separate walk-in dressing rooms and a bathroom with twin marble basins, a marble bath, and a walk-in shower. Elsewhere, the Lygon Place property boasts a cinema room, a fitness studio, a passenger lift, a terraced garden, staff quarters/studio accommodation, and direct access to an underground car park with two allocated bays.

A property of this calibre, with a history this rich? One might call it a once-in-a-century proposition.

The Lygon Place property is for sale with a guide price of £21,500,000. For more information visit

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