Winter in the City: five lovely London listings giving reasons to be cheerful
From a tall Georgian townhouse south of the river full of cosy details, to a Victorian apartment with a villagey feel, this selection of homes for sale in the city make the most of the wonders of winter. ’Tis the season!
As William Blake once advised: “In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy”. In other words: each season has its purpose. Though it has its challenges, winter is also a time to come together and to enjoy the little things in life. And there’s no better place to do so than London. Built for the cold, and beautiful in the dark, this city comes alive when the days are shorter. Think candlelit suppers with friends; the pitter-patter of rain on the pavement, twinkling lights aglow; the still morning air and gold winter sun. There’s nowhere quite like London in winter – making these five listings even more desirable.
Hanover Road, NW10
There’s no getting around it: winter can be demanding. And so, as short days and cold weather make their way doggedly into our bones, it is only natural we seek out warm places, full of colour and life – and there are few better examples than this wonderful home in Kensal Green. Refusing to bow to the seasons, Hanover Road blends traditional British design with joyful expressions of north African colour and Andalusian style.
From the outside, the home exudes quintessential Edwardian charm, yet inside the owner – renowned homeware designer Alice Palmer – has created a sunny atmosphere, with bold patterns and pale hues of terracotta, honey and spring green. The rear kitchen extension blurs the line between exterior and interior and brings in masses of light, even when wintery skies hang heavy with cloud. The room’s raw-plaster walls and pastel-green cabinets create a mellow, welcoming atmosphere to congregate friends and family for Sunday lunch, after kicking up the leaves on a walk around nearby Queen’s Park.
Birch Lodge, SW20
The mere mention of Wimbledon gives rise to thoughts of hazy summer days, freshly cut grass and the muffled thud of tennis ball on racket. Just a five-minute drive away from the All England club and Centre Court, this two-bedroom flat is ideally located for those few weeks every July, when the eyes of the world turn to tennis. But you don’t need to dig much deeper to find the other pulls of this place. In winter, Wimbledon is a vibrant village that feels somewhere between between city and country, with its weekly farmers’ market, Grade II-listed theatre and vast common, where frosty tussocks of grass and hardened muddy paths invite you for a brisk morning walk. Meanwhile, from mid-November, Christmas stalls – selling all sorts of special presents – will be trading on Wimbledon Piazza every weekend until 18 December.
This classically proportioned flat, part of a 19th-century Italianate villa, is a calm, pared-down refuge from the thrum of village life. Inside, its grandeur is obvious. An airy communal entrance space leads to the first-floor reception hall. Inside, a balance of sophisticated finish, warm textures and an earthy colour scheme create a stylish yet cosy retreat.
Lyndhurst Way, SE15
Until the turn of the 19th century, Peckham was little more than a farming village set among woodlands and fields. A hundred years later, however, the railways had transformed it into a respectable London suburb, populated by an affluent merchant class wanting elegant townhouses. On Lyndhurst Way, many of these homes still stand. This Grade II-listed building in particular is proud of its heritage, its décor celebrating and enhancing its handsome bones with sensitive contemporary design. Deep colours hark back to the luxurious palette of the Victorians, while intricate joinery pays homage to the period’s stylistic detailing. The rear has been landscaped as a “Victorian collector’s garden”, bursting with exotic ferns and hardy evergreens.
Whatever the season, there’s a splendid vitality to this home, but in winter, the vibrant community in Peckham comes alive. As well as the festive markets that dot its streets, the area’s traditional pubs throw open their doors, inviting visitors to settle beside well-stoked hearths. The most famous of these is the White Horse, a 10-minute walk from Lyndhurst Way and a favourite haunt of Dougal Douglas, the protagonist of Muriel Spark’s beloved celebration of south London, The Ballad of Peckham Rye.
Church Row, NW3
Long favoured by artists and writers for its tranquillity, leafy streets and village-like feel, the charms of the old world live on in Hampstead still. On a cold clear morning, the stories of London past and present feel present in its pavements and cobblestones. Take Church Row, a street lined with 18th-century Queen Anne townhouses that leads to the beautiful Grade I-listed St. John. This particularly pretty street is home to this listing, full of its own rich history.
Poets, artists and architects have all passed through its door. The painter William Rothenstein lived here, as did the author Ludovic Kennedy and his wife, the dancer and actress Moira Shearer. Perhaps its most notorious resident, however, was Lord Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas, whose affair with Oscar Wilde ultimately led to the writer’s imprisonment. If only walls could talk…
Once inside, you’re transported back in time by the abundance of original architectural features. The sophisticated elegance of bygone times is seen in the raised wood panelling, intricate cornicing and grand sweeping staircase. Big open fireplaces, inset with faience tiles, beckon when the frost starts glazing the box sash windows.
Another poet who lived down the road, John Keats, is well known for his ode To Autumn, but in this corner of London, we prefer winter’s charms – and there’s nowhere better to enjoy them than amid the historical elegance of this home.
Kennington Road, SE11
There’s a time and a place for the sleek lines and efficient compositions of modern design, but come winter in south London, the old school still rules. There’s comfort in timelessness – and therefore in this listing on Kennington Road, which combines the architectural styles of nearly three centuries. Originally constructed in c1792, the house was built a shopfront in the mid-19th century, which, nearly 100 years later, was sensitively converted according to contemporary tastes. The result is a space of distinct character rooted in historical style.
On a winter’s day, perhaps after lunch at local favourite the Prince of Wales on Cleaver Square, to returning here is to return to a refuge. Among the period features found throughout the house are an original cast-iron cooker, shuttered sash windows and half-height stripped wood panelling frame. Best of all, however, is an impressive marble fireplace in the reception room. Curl up on the sofa and spurn the cold outside.
If you feel brave, head to the river for a bracing walk down the Embankment to take in views of a frosty London. In the evening, pop around the corner to the White Bear, a pub with an intimate fringe theatre attached known for the quality of both its productions and its pints.
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