Oakley Street property

Property of the month: A quirky Chelsea townhouse on a celebrity-studded street

19 Oct 2022 | |By Anna Solomon

Oscar Wilde, David Bowie and George Best have all lived on Oakley Street. Needless to say, its credentials are abundant

Living in London, we’re slightly spoiled when it comes to historical residences – blue plaques are as common as swimming pools or guest houses – and sometimes we become complacent. Tom Ford once worked there? So what? Mick Jagger’s former hangout? Snore. With this Property of the Month, then, we’d like to shine a light on the value of a home of historical significance and remind ourselves how wonderful it is that our capital is brimming with memories of former iconic inhabitants.

Oakley Street property reception

Few locations can identify with this claim better than Oakley Street, which runs from the King’s Road down to Cheyne Walk and the River Thames. This Chelsea road was built on the former site of Winchester House, the residence of the Bishop of Winchester. After it and its 2.5-acre grounds fell into disrepair, it was sold to the trustees of the Cadogan Estate – one of the earliest London property developers, credited with turning much of Chelsea into residential space as the urban population swelled during the industrial age. Winchester House was demolished in 1836 and, by 1851, Oakley Street consisted of 14 houses.

Like much of the modern Cadogan Estate, Oakley Street is highly sought after, with many of its addresses appearing on the National Heritage List. Over the years, it has drawn all manner of high-profile individuals, from Donald Maclean of the Cambridge Five spy ring to Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott. No. 87 was home to Oscar Wilde and his mother, and, many years later, the footballer George Best. David Bowie lived at no. 89 from 1973 to at least 1976. No. 42 was where Bob Marley moved with his wife Rita in January 1977, following an attempt on his life in Jamaica.

Oakley Street exterior

The property we’re spotlighting is directly next door to Marley’s blue plaque-anointed ex-residence. The for-sale home was built in 1870 and, unbelievably, has only had three owners since then. The current proprietor bought the house 15 years ago, and recently undertook a 12-month total renovation.

The result is beautiful and unique in equal measure. The British entrepreneur owner has not opted for neutrality; this isn’t a blank canvas for you to put your stamp on, but a turnkey home for someone with bold taste. Features include 17th-century terracotta tiles, wooden beams sourced from a French chateau, reclaimed wood panelling, and steel beams clad in old railway sleepers.

The Oakley Street property is family-sized at over 4,300 sq ft, with plenty of living space including a double reception room with a balustrade overlooking the dining area, and a sitting room with a feature window framing the swimming pool. The principal bedroom suite occupies the entire first floor, and there are four further double bedrooms and three bathrooms. The lower ground floor comprises a laundry area and a staff bedroom with ensuite shower and kitchenette.

Chelsea property garden

Then there’s the outdoor space. The 40m garden is one of the largest in Chelsea, landscaped with specimen planting and featuring a listed wall that dates back to the 16th century. The 12m swimming pool is heated, while the summer house comes with a kitchen, shower room and sauna – perfect for home-working or for extra guest accommodation or entertaining space.

Musicians, footballers and agents of espionage have frequented Oakley Street. Much loved (and hated) public figures have called the postcode home. If the thought of imbibing this history appeals, this might be the home for you – or maybe you’re just on the lookout for a super-luxe, newly-renovated home in a prime area, which also works.

The Oakley Street property is on the market for £10 million. For more information visit tedworth.co.uk

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