This fine Grade II-listed late-Georgian townhouse lies on a quiet street just off the coveted Dorset Square in Marylebone. Of significant historical importance, as it is the last remaining Georgian square north of Marylebone Road, the private garden square is incredibly peaceful for such a central location. Wonderfully preserved, the four-bedroom house’s sympathetic contemporary interventions blend beautifully with original features. Laid out over five levels, it is built on an east-west axis to enjoy an excellent quality of light throughout the day; internal accommodation extends to over 2,100 sq ft. The house is a short walk from Regent’s Park and the countless fashionable shops and restaurants in Marylebone village; immediate transport links are exceptional.
Setting the Scene
Positioned within the parish of St Marylebone (the grand neoclassical church on nearby Marylebone Road), this house is situated just north of Dorset Square on Balcombe Street in the Dorset Square Conservation Area. Regency in design, the house and surrounding streets were once part of the Portman Estate. James Thompson Parkinson, a noted architect of the time, built these houses in collaboration with master-builder of the day David Porter. Direction and control came from the Portman Estate, while Parkinson and Porter were responsible for providing building services (and providing the subsequent rents in Porter’s case).
Built between 1815 and 1820, the terrace features Stock brick with channelled stucco on the ground floor and a concealed Welsh slate roof with a stucco parapet wall. Spanning five storeys and two bays wide, the house is set behind original cast-iron railings at street level, with pineapple and tasselled spearhead finial details. There is a cast-iron geometric anthemion-patterned balcony spanning the width of the full-height fenestration on the first floor; the original door is positioned in a doorcase with pilaster jambs carrying cornice-heads beneath the elegant roundhead fanlight. For more information, please see the History section below.
The Grand Tour
Wreathed in a beautifully mature wisteria at ground level, entry to the house is immediately to the private hallway, laid with black and white chequerboard tiles. To the front of the plan is the library, lined wall-to-wall with exceptionally handsome custom-built oak bookshelves and cabinetry; sisal carpet runs underfoot. A wonderfully enveloping and rich room, the walls are painted deep red to create an intimate space.
To the rear of the ground floor is a conservatory and home office; a peaceful room, it has an excellent quality of light care of a large, pitched roof lantern; a guest cloakroom is set discreetly off the hallway.
Descending to the lower ground floor, oak flooring leads to the spacious kitchen and dining area. Granite rests above ivory-colour panelled cupboards, with a double sink set beside the window and in front of the lightwell; a range cooker is positioned within the original hearth, and a door leads to two exterior vaults.
A guest bedroom and a separate WC sit at the rear of this floor. The bedroom is lit from above by a glass aperture spanning the width of the room, bringing a wonderfully subtle light into the space; it has an en suite shower room.
The first floor is home to the drawing-room, an elegant room with cream deep pile wool carpet underfoot and exquisite ivory silk-lined walls. Original cornice is set in an acanthus leaf pattern, while a stone chimneypiece in a classic Georgian bullseye design is positioned centrally. Two full-height box sash windows with panelled shutters lead to the Juliet balcony and allow for lovely early-evening light.
The second floor has two bedrooms, both sharing a bathroom featuring Lefroy Brooks nickel-plated brassware. The uppermost floor at the apex of the house is home to the main bedroom, lined in a beautiful striped wallpaper and with a wall of fitted panelled wardrobes offering plentiful storage. A further bathroom on this floor is used as the en suite.
Out and About
Balcombe Street is brilliantly located and within walking distance of the West End, Marylebone Village and Harley Street. Particularly popular are both Marylebone High Street and Chiltern Street, home to countless excellent shops and restaurants. Firm favourites include Fischer’s, Orrery and Chiltern Firehouse. Marylebone farmers’ market is exceptionally popular, and takes place each Sunday on Aybrook Street. The Wallace Collection on Manchester Square is a remarkable museum with an excellent permanent collection of masterpiece paintings and world-class antiquities, while for more bohemian distractions, nearby Church Street to the north is home to one of the best antique markets in London.
The wide-open parkland of Regent’s Park is less than five minutes’ walk away, with its boating lake, famed rose gardens, open-air theatre and large wetland area. Laid out over some 395 acres, it is one of London’s eight Royal Parks and was named after the Prince Regent, though has a history dating back to originally being King Henry VIII’s hunting ground.
Local schools are excellent, with independent day schools including Hope Montessori, Wetherby prep and senior schools, Queen’s College and Francis Holland. The favoured local state schools are St Vincent RC Primary School at primary level and St Marylebone School and Marylebone Boy’s School for older children.
Transport Links are exceptional with both Marylebone Station (Bakerloo line and National Rail) and Baker Street (Hammersmith & City line, Circle line, Jubilee line, Metropolitan line, and Bakerloo line). Paddington station, for connections to the Elizabeth line (Crossrail) and Heathrow, is just five minutes drive away, while Marylebone station is a one-minute walk from the house. Both Kings Cross St Pancras and Euston Stations are also nearby, as is the A40 via the Westway.
Council Tax Band: H
Dorset Square and the surrounding streets were built as part of the late-stage northern development of the Portman Estate, owned and operated by the aristocratic Portman family.
Development of the greater area initially started in the early 18th century, just to the north of Oxford Street, from Oxford Circus to what is now Marble Arch. The Portman family originally acquired Dorset square in 1532 from the Order of St John of Jerusalem, when it was a rural area with open fields.
The squares of Dorset, Harewood and Blandford (the latter two both demolished in the 1890s to make way for Marylebone station) were laid out in the late 18th century, with the adjacent roads, including Balcombe Street, a little later. The streets were all named after parts of Dorset, where the Portman family (including the Duke of Dorset) had land.
Despite the compulsory purchase of both Harewood and Blandford squares to make way for the opening of the Chilterns railway in 1899, the estate and properties remained with the family until 1948, when death duties amounting to two-thirds of the estate’s value were due to HM Government. The northern parts of the estate, including Balcombe Street, were sold off in 1951, with this house consequently enjoying a rare freehold status for a central London home.