This fantastic, Victorian, five-bedroom house is found on beautiful Bonnington Square in Vauxhall. Home to a wonderful communal garden, as well as the popular Italo Deli, the square is a particularly quiet and verdant oasis, despite its central London position. The back of the house faces the square garden, so each room, the balcony and the roof terrace have incredible green views.
Setting the Scene
Bonnington Square was built in the 1880s to house railway workers. After some heavy bombing during the Second World War, the square was compulsorily purchased by the Inner London Education Authority in the 1970s, which intended to redevelop the square in order to build a sports ground for the school on Langley Lane.
By the 1980s, the square was almost entirely occupied by squatters, who established a volunteer-run vegetarian café, a community garden, a bar, a nightclub and a wholefoods shop. They also formed a housing co-op, successfully negotiating the right to buy the buildings from the GLC. Brilliantly, the café and pleasure garden still exist today. The square is now filled with vines climbing up the houses and a combination of sub-tropical and native plants growing in every available space; all of the trees were planted by guerrilla gardeners.
The Grand Tour
Entry to the house is through an arched entrance and into a hallway. Arranged as an ‘upside-down’ house, the living space is at the top of the building, benefitting from the associated views and light. Stairs ascend to the second floor, where there is an open-plan kitchen and dining room. This is a wonderful, bright, airy space with high, voluminous ceilings and a large skylight. The kitchen is composed of white cabinetry set against wooden countertops, and a combination of open shelving and cupboards has been used. The brick chimney breast has been left exposed, and a beautiful bench seat by furniture designer Luke Pearson runs along one side of the room. There’s also a mirrored wall with storage behind. A small set of stairs lead from the kitchen onto a fantastic roof terrace with incredible far-reaching views.
The first and second floors follow exactly the same floorplan, each comprising a double bedroom with its own shower room and private balcony overlooking the pleasure gardens to the rear. The first floor is home to the principal bedroom. Two large sash windows bathe the room in light, and there is a luxurious en suite bathroom, where handmade Zellige tiles clad the walls and an encaustic patterned tiled floor runs underfoot. Handily, a laundry shoot connects these two floors, dropping the laundry into the utility room below.
Two double bedrooms occupy the ground floor, which could operate like a separate annexe. A utility room with a kitchenette has a glazed door that opens onto the garden. The bedroom at the front of the plan has an open fireplace, and the further bedroom, which could easily be used as a study, also has access to the Zen garden through French doors. A useful coat cupboard on this floor is next to the entrance to the basement/cellar.
A mezzanine level at the top of the house is a brilliant office space with a smart, built-in desk with a skylight that frames impressive views over London.
The Great Outdoors
A wonderful roof terrace crowns the house, with a new wooden floor and bespoke planters filled with different plants such as lavender, rosemary and daffodils, which provide additional privacy for the space. The current owners have cleverly installed a discrete barbeque in the old chimney breast. The views are sensational, over the garden square, nearby rooftops, to Vauxhall and beyond. In the distance, it’s also possible to see a train passing by. There is ample space for outdoor dining, and it enjoys the sun for most of the day since there is very little blocking its path.
There are new double-glazed windows and reclaimed salvaged antique mahogany floors throughout the property.
Out and About
In the square itself is the ever-popular Italo, as well as the newly refurbished Bonnington Community Centre and café. Close by is the recently renovated Vauxhall Park, with a café, playground, dog runs, tennis, ping pong, and lavender fields, alongside a swimming pool, sauna and gym.
Nearby Kennington & South Lambeth Roads have excellent amenities, including the Tate Library, and ‘Little Portugal’. There is good coffee and cake to be found at Vanilla Black, Sally White and Urban Botanica, and there is a daily vegetable and flower market nearby. The Prince of Wales on Cleaver Square is loved by locals, while a little further afield is the bastion of good pub cuisine, The Canton Arms, as well as Oval Farmers’ Market and the newest outpost of Theo’s Pizzeria.
The Grade II-listed open spaces of Kennington Park are a short walk from the house. There are football, tennis and basketball courts, an outdoor gym, cricket nets and table tennis tables, plus excellent pizza from Collective and fresh bread by Cable Bakery. It is a short walk to the South Bank of the River Thames. The Kennington Triangle has undergone something of an artistic rebirth in recent years; within a short walk are the Newport Street Gallery, The Sunday Painter, Cabinet Gallery, Gasworks, and The City & Guilds London School of Art.
The nearest stations are Vauxhall (Victoria Line and National Rail services towards Waterloo), Kennington and Oval (Northern Line). Lambeth North and Elephant and Castle (Bakerloo Line) are also within easy reach. There are good bus routes into central London from Kennington Road.
Council Tax Band: D
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