This enchanting three-bedroom maisonette sits upon Steeles Road in Belsize Park, a grand tree-lined street of large late-Victorian townhouses. A short stroll from Primrose Hill, the maisonette occupies the uppermost floors of a five-storey house. It has unrivalled views of central London to the south and a private exterior terrace. Arranged over 1,000 sq ft, the spaces within offer great opportunity for versatility in living and sleeping quarters, with a stunning cast-iron spiral staircase connecting both floors. There is great potential to further improve the home as it will require some updating.
Setting the Scene
Built in the 1880s and positioned in the heart of the Eton conservation area, this was once the home of an author and her artist husband. The top floor and ‘artist’s garret’ is a beautifully preserved homage to the pair’s great sense of style, and a reflection of the author’s one-time work as an interior decorator. This home bears the traces of the years of their creative life, with a palpable sense of beauty and quietude that envelops once one steps inside. For more information on the house and surrounding area, please see the History section below.
The Grand Tour
The house is set back from Steeles Road behind a low wall and white stucco pillars at street level. A set of steps ascend to the main entrance and a large, red-painted door is set into a tall doorcase with a roundhead fan light. Private entrance to the apartment is on the second floor, opening to a hallway with a decorative cast-iron staircase that connects both floors; pitch pine floorboards run underfoot.
To the front of the plan is a large, open room with two sash windows and a secondary space to the side, once used as a utility room. These and the bathroom on this floor offer great scope for modification and improvement. To the rear of this floor is a study completely lined with bookshelves, where sisal carpet extends underfoot and windows frame incredible views. There is also a generous and deep storage cupboard on this floor.
Ascending the spiral staircase, the artistic air becomes most apparent. An exceptional quality of light enters the spaces care of dormer windows to the front and rear, and thoughtful apertures in the roof at the landing and in the secondary bathroom. Views are uninterrupted to St Paul’s Cathedral and beyond, while treetops gently frame the distant urban skyline.
The living room is formed of two connected spaces. Both are papered in a handblocked print from Paris and have louvre doors concealing convenient storage space. A sliding door opens to the kitchen, where handmade cupboards are painted blue and green. To the rear is a low built-in seating area, perfectly positioned to take advantage of the glorious cityscape. The literary theme continues: walls are full of bookshelves, creating the perfect spot for reading.
The main bathroom is located off the landing and accessed through a discreet pocket door. This room is particularly chic, with walls clad in lacquered cork tiles and featuring art deco antique brassware. A sheet of slate sits atop a vanity unit and a flattering quality of light enters from a skylight that punctuates the ceiling. The single bedroom is accessed via a separate set of steps from the landing. Lined in pretty wallpaper, it is characterised by French windows leading to a wonderful outdoor terrace. The views from here are at their most spectacular, and the south-facing aspect makes it the perfect spot to watch the sun rise and set.
Out and About
Steeles Road is located close to the shops and cafes of Haverstock Hill, Belsize Park Village and Hampstead Village. Nearby amenities include Gail’s bakery, England’s Lane café and numerous pubs and restaurants. Primrose Hill and the beautiful Regent’s Park are a short walk to the south; Hampstead Heath is also within walking distance of the apartment, offering freshwater swimming year-round in the men’s and ladies Bathing Ponds, as well as some of London’s most beautiful woodland walks. In addition to elevated views of the city from Parliament Hill, there are tennis courts, cafes and Kenwood House, a wonderful 17th-century country house and gallery.
The apartment is within walking distance of several independent day schools including the Hall, St Antony’s, South Hampstead High School, St Christopher’s, Trevor Roberts and Sarum Hall.
Chalk Farm (Northern Line) and Swiss Cottage (Jubilee Line) underground stations are within easy reach.
Tenure: Share of Freehold
Lease Length: Approx. 999 years remaining
An author took on this apartment in the 1960s when the area was at its most bohemian, and set about creating an enchanting eyrie for herself and her artist husband. Loosely based on the idea of the ‘chambre de bonne’ from her earlier time spent in Paris, a sense of romance and creativity still pervades, both from the former owner’s stylish interventions and the immediate area’s history. Indeed, most of her darkly romantic writing was conducted here, looking out to the London skyline. Something of a polymath, she was also an antique dealer and intimates designer in her earlier days.
Steeles Road was laid out in the 19th century for a planned suburb on part of Eton College’s Chalcots Estate, where an 18th-century rural landscape in Hampstead had existed since the 12th century. During medieval times, this then-hilltop village and the surrounding land were granted to the Abbott of Westminster in AD 986 by King Ethelred the Unready; the land was pastoral and provided grass and hay for London’s cattle and horses. Later, in the late-17th century, the area became a fashionable spa during the summer months. The locale eventually attracted the literary and artistic set, including John Constable and John Keats, and is today often referred to as Steeles Village by the local inhabitants. A great sense of creative community exists here, with the annual winter festival of special note.