AS ONE of Britain’s most revered playwrights, Harold Pinter certainly had a sense of place and class. By the time he moved into Hanover Terrace in 1964, Pinter was already celebrated as the author of The Caretaker and The Birthday Party. And while living here he published further classic works including Old Times and No Man’s Land.
The six-bedroom, Grade I-listed home — overlooking Regent’s Park, and complete with renovated 1,230sq ft mews house — became the backdrop for lavish parties Pinter hosted with his first wife, actress Vivien Merchant.
The Beatles, Michael Caine (Vivien’s co-star in Alfie), Peter O’Toole, Cary Grant and Dirk Bogarde partied here; Donald Pleasence recalled ‘a footpedal to flush the toilet so you didn’t have to touch a chain’ — a detail Pinter wrote into his play Tea Party.
The 5,372sq ft mansion has pedigree. Part of a terrace of 20 houses, it was designed by John Nash, whose neoclassicism typifies London’s Regency era. Built in 1822-23, its extraordinary stucco exterior features statues of Greek gods on two blue-backed friezes high above the porticos.
Originally owned by aristocrats, then a wealthy banker, it was home in the late 1950s to racing driver Lance Reventlow (son of heiress Barbara Woolworth Hutton, one of the world’s richest women). Then Harold and Vivien lived here together for 11 years. After extensive refurbishment, the house has a contemporary rear extension: two storeys of steel and glass offer unimpeded views over the west-facing landscaped gardens and pretty mews house. At the front, a full-width balcony leads via French doors to the huge living room, looking directly over Regent’s Park, a stone’s throw from the boating lake.
Most rooms have original coving, lofty ceilings and arched windows. The formal dining room has one of two restored marble fireplaces. The entrance hall and dining room’s quadruple-drop crystal chandeliers add drama. The Italian-marble kitchen leads to the less formal family room, which features a pitched glass roof with bespoke Italian blinds. On the lower ground floor are staff quarters, a gym and a vast room that would make a fabulous additional living area. The upper floors host five bedrooms, each with en suites and many with spacious walk-in wardrobes.
The living room’s original, panelled walls have been augmented with antique mirrored panels and, over the French doors, stunning glass curtain rods supporting the soft satin/silk curtains. Most furniture and fittings will be sold with the house.
The tones throughout are calm: grey and cream with hints of dusty pink, pale blue and stone in the bedrooms.
The hall and ground floor have wide-slabbed cream ceramic tiles, but the bedrooms and living room have soft wool-silk carpet in greys and creams. An old lift, accessible from each half-landing, was removed in the refurbishment, but the lift shaft still exists; if anyone wanted it reinstated, it should easily pass planning.
The mews house at the bottom of the garden is bigger than an average London two-bed flat, its living room leading to an outside terrace which looks back at the main house.
The Pinters left when Harold moved in with Lady Antonia Fraser in 1975, selling up in 1978. It’s an extraordinary property, which successfully blends the triumphant architecture of the past with the best of contemporary design — and thus entirely suitable for one of our greatest playwrights.
What you get for your money
■ 5,372sq ft home with six bedrooms — all with en-suite bathrooms
■ 1,230sq ft mews house (and garage) at the bottom of the garden which would make a perfect guest wing
■ Nash-designed house on one of the most beautiful Regency terraces in London
■ Recently refurbished and restored: now featuring a contemporary two-storey steel and glass addition at the rear of the property
■ Overlooking Regent’s Park, a stone’s throw from tennis courts and the Boating Lake
■ A slice of history: Harold Pinter and his then-wife Vivien Merchant lived here for several years, and hosted many celebrities
£16.95million. Alex Bourne on +44(0)20 7486 9665 or beauchamp.com