Prop­erty News

A Rich­mond land­mark has been re­stored and con­verted to lux­ury flats. Eleanor Doughty re­ports on The Star and Garter

Country Life Every Week - - Contents - Edited by An­nun­ci­ata Wal­ton

Eleanor Doughty re­ports on the restora­tion of a Rich­mond land­mark

FOR years, res­i­dents of Rich­mond, in south-west Lon­don, have waited pa­tiently for work to be fin­ished on the town’s most adored land­mark, The Star and Garter. Now, the scaf­fold­ing is com­ing down, the gar­den looks beau­ti­ful and new apart­ment own­ers are book­ing their re­moval vans.

The Star and Garter was named for Ed­ward III, who founded the Or­der of the Garter (which has a star in its in­signia), the most pres­ti­gious or­der of chivalry, in 1348. Built in 1809 on the site of an 18th-cen­tury coach­ing inn (on land be­long­ing to a mem­ber of the Or­der), it was ini­tially the op­u­lent Star and Garter ho­tel, de­scribed by a con­tem­po­rary as ‘more like a man­sion of a no­ble­man than a re­cep­ta­cle for the pub­lic’. Its hey­day was the 1850s and guests in­cluded Wil­liam Thack­eray, Charles Dick­ens, Queen Vic­to­ria and Napoleon III. The 1870s saw Ital­ian Ro­manesque ad­di­tions, in­clud­ing the ball­room, but, by 1906, the ho­tel had been aban­doned.

In 1914, the mam­moth build­ing housed troops trained in Rich­mond Park and, in 1924, it be­came a mil­i­tary hos­pi­tal pa­tro­n­ised by Queen Mary, with a new build­ing by Sir Ed­win Cooper. In 2013, when the last res­i­dents of the Royal Star & Garter Homes, as the char­ity is now known, moved to their new sta­teof-the-art Sur­biton res­i­dence, the iconic prop­erty went up for sale, await­ing its next chal­lenge.

Devel­oper Lon­don Square snapped it up for £50 mil­lion and set to work con­vert­ing the Grade Ii-listed build­ing into 86 apart­ments, rang­ing from one to six bed­rooms. To cel­e­brate the ma­jor restora­tion, more than 50 artists have been com­mis­sioned to in­ter­pret the view to and from The Star and Garter—the only listed view in Bri­tain, as im­mor­talised by Turner. The ‘VIEWS’ ex­hi­bi­tion, a sale of these new works with an ac­com­pa­ny­ing book, runs from April 4 to May 4 in the newly re­stored grand mar­ble hall.

From the 20,000sq ft com­mu­nal gar­den, one can ob­serve the curve in the Thames as Turner must have seen it and, in the dis­tance, the Lon­don Eye, glint­ing in the sun. On the other side of the build­ing is 2,500-acre Rich­mond Park. In­side, the apart­ments have high ceil­ings and large win­dows—a wel­come re­lief, one sus­pects, for Lon­don’s new-build buy­ers.

The three-bed­room, three-bath­room pent­house apart­ment, for ex­am­ple, a 2,433sq ft unit on the mar­ket for £3.95 mil­lion, fea­tures a vaulted liv­ing area with triple-as­pect sash win­dows, a grand in­ter­nal stair­case and, in the mas­ter bed­room, a se­cret room be­hind the mir­ror. Down­stairs, in the for­mer ball­room, is a lux­u­ri­ous swim­ming pool, where, at one end, a por­trait of Ge­orge V sur­veys the bathers. The gym and spa are next door. There’s also a six-seater cin­ema room and Har­rods Es­tates will be run­ning the 24-hour concierge for res­i­dents, with a town-car ser­vice.

Although this is doubt­less a great deal of money to spend on any prop­erty— even if it is a pent­house over­look­ing a listed view—the apart­ments, which start at £1.65 mil­lion, are not un­rea­son­ably priced for the area, says Carsten Swift of Knight Frank’s Rich­mond of­fice (020–7861 1368). Buy­ers have been en­ticed south by the rel­a­tive good value, he says, and there are still apart­ments avail­able. ‘Peo­ple have been look­ing in and around Not­ting Hill and Hyde Park and, rather than buy­ing a small flat there, they’re get­ting a big flat here.’

To date, the ma­jor­ity of buy­ers, Mr Swift says, have been do­mes­tic. ‘There were half a dozen sold in Hong Kong, but all but one of those are Bri­tish ex­pa­tri­ates com­ing home.’ Hap­pily, the flats are be­ing bought by owne­roc­cu­piers, Mr Swift adds, with re­lief. ‘I will eat my hat if, when the 86th one is sold, more than a dozen are not be­ing used most of the time.’ At the time of go­ing to press, 22 of the 86 apart­ments re­main un­sold, priced from £1.65 mil­lion. View­ing by ap­point­ment only; visit http://thes­tarand garter­lon­ or tele­phone 0333 666 0102 for fur­ther in­for­ma­tion

The view from the build­ing was im­mor­talised by Turner and is the only listed view in Bri­tain

A draw­ing of The Star and Garter by Wil­liam Wal­cott for the ar­chi­tect Sir Ed­win Cooper. Af­ter the build­ing fell into dis­re­pair in the early 20th cen­tury, it was knocked down and re­placed by Cooper’s de­sign

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