The home where Woolf lived out her Night and Day

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

Night and Day, Ja­cob’s Dal­loway The Com­mon Reader Mrs ous house, too. In 1917, Vir­ginia and Leonard bought a hand print­ing press for £19 5s 5d. They kept it in their draw­ing room and used it to pub­lish “at low prices short works of merit” that would not ap­peal to a large pub­lic. They called it Hog­a­rth Press, af­ter their house. Within five years, Hog­a­rth Press had pub­lished works by TS Eliot, EM Forster and Sig­mund Freud. What started as a hobby, to give Vir­ginia dis­trac­tion from writ­ing and her de­pres­sion, soon grew into a large com­mer­cial pub­lisher, re­leas­ing 527 ti­tles in 29 years. To­day, Hog­a­rth Press is part of pub­lish­ing gi­ant Pen­guin Ran­dom House, and the prop­erty where it all be­gan – com­plete with blue plaque – is now on the mar­ket. It has been di­vided into two town­houses, for sale through Sav­ills at £3.75mil­lion each, fol­low­ing an ex­ten­sive re­fur­bish­ment by Ber­wick Hill Prop­er­ties. The de­vel­oper bought the Grade II listed build­ing in 2012 but it took two years be­fore plan­ning per­mis­sion was granted. The idea to split it into two was a fi­nan­cial one: “the mar­ket wasn’t there” for a sin­gle larger house, says Jonathan Carey of Don­ald In­sall As­so­ciates, the con­ser­va­tion ar­chi­tec­ture prac­tice that worked on the project. But the lo­cal con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cer was not con­vinced. “She said, you can’t do that, you’re ru­in­ing a Vic­to­rian prop­erty,” Carey re­calls. But over the fol­low­ing months of re­search, he had a stroke of luck. Af­ter notic­ing some­thing “not quite right” with the stair join­ery, he came to “the most ex­tra­or­di­nary con­clu­sion: that the build­ing we were look­ing at then had in fact al­ready been con­verted into two houses.”

The prop­erty, built in 1750, had been di­vided in 1870 when the house fell into dis­re­pair fol­low­ing the area’s de­cline in so­cial stand- ing. Vir­ginia and Leonard Woolf ini­tially moved into the left town­house, buy­ing the other one in the early Twen­ties. It was turned into busi­ness premises in 1934, and the two halves were re­united in the Seven­ties.

The 18-month project took twice as long as ex­pected, says Hannah Dur­den, de­vel­op­ment man­ager at Ber­wick Hill. Some 15 lay­ers of paint had to be stripped off the hand-carved wooden pan­elling, and decades worth of dirt (not to men­tion porno­graphic mag­a­zines from the Six­ties) had to be cleaned from un­der the floor­boards. Now, both five-bed­room houses have re­stored pe­riod fea­tures, plush mod­ern in­te­ri­ors and court­yard gar­dens. The left house is called “Leonard”, and the right, “Vir­ginia”, bears the blue plaque.

“We knew from day one that this was a very im­por­tant build­ing,” says Jeremy Richard­son, di­rec­tor of Ber­wick Hill. “There aren’t many op­por­tu­ni­ties in life to own a house that has played such an im­por­tant role in English lit­er­ary his­tory.” And, Dur­den adds, of all the blue plaques in Lon­don, only one in 10 re­lates to women. “That makes this even more of a rare com­mod­ity.”

Both town­houses now boast re­stored pe­riod fea­tures and plush, mod­ern in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tion; Vir­ginia Woolf, far left, lived at Hog­a­rth House from 1915 to 1924 The 1750 villa is now for sale as two town­houses, ‘Leonard’ on the left and ‘Vir­ginia’ on the right, with the blue plaque mark­ing one of lit­er­a­ture’s most in­flu­en­tial fig­ures

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