A London palace for sale with a poetic past

Lord Byron's former Mayfair home, which could be worth in excess of £70 million after refurbishment, comes on to the market

Mayfair townhouse 139 Piccadilly was once the London home of English Romantic poet Lord Byron. Photo: Casa e Progetti / Tony Murray
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An illustrious private palace in London's Mayfair that was once the home of Lord Byron and later of French banking heiress Baroness Catherine d’Erlanger has come up for sale.

It's not often that a property of the calibre of 139 Piccadilly comes on to the market. The 15,339-square foot Grade II town house has accommodation over six floors and most recently was used as offices.

However, planning permission is in place to restore this historical gem overlooking Green Park – and a short stroll from Buckingham Palace – to a family home. It is on the market at £29.5 million, but once refurbished could be worth in excess of £70 million.

The property is essentially a blank canvas with an impressive historical pedigree.

Whoever acquires the residence will be able to create a family home to their own style, from the ground up, at a central London address where that opportunity is not normally available.

That family home could be a mega mansion of eight to 10 en suite bedrooms, with a lower-ground-floor swimming pool and spa, seven reception rooms, a roof terrace and parking for four cars.

The property, which is on sale through Mayfair estate agents Wetherell, lies at the far west end of Piccadilly, the famous thoroughfare that is home to the Ritz Hotel, Fortnum & Mason and the Michelin-starred restaurant Hide.

“Buildings of this scale and importance and in such an ultra-prime Green Park location rarely come up for sale in Mayfair. It is an outstanding opportunity for someone wanting a trophy property in one of London’s finest addresses,” said Robert Britten, sales director at Wetherell.

Literary history

The original mansion was built between 1760 and 1764 and served as the Mayfair home of William Douglas, the 4th Duke of Queensberry. Following his death, the property was renovated and in 1815 became the London home of the English Romantic poet Lord Byron and his new bride Annabella.

Byron wrote both his tragic verse Parsinia and his narrative poem The Seige of Corinth at 139 Piccadilly before leaving the mansion forever, having divorced his wife, a little over a year later.

By the late 19th century, the mansion was being rented by one of France's wealthiest families, and by 1910, Baron Emile Beaumont d’Erlanger and his wife Baroness Catherine d’Erlanger had bought it.

With Baroness Catherine at the helm, the house became one the centres of London society, with a guest list that included Winston Churchill, the poet William Butler Yeats, the songwriter Cole Porter and the photographer Cecil Beaton.

In the 1920s the Duchess of York, later to become the Queen Mother, lived next door.

By 1939, Baron d’Erlanger had died and, as war threatened to engulf Europe, Catherine moved to Los Angeles.

Following the Second World War, the building briefly served as a private members' club, before being used for many decades as commercial offices.

Having acquired it in 2011, the current owners have spent 12 years securing the various planning permissions to refurbish the property and, once again, create a substantial and palatial family home in the heart of central London.

CGI shows potential

The property boasts well-preserved original period features throughout, including ornate ceilings and fireplaces, tall doors with elegant architraves and a spectacular cantilevered Portland Stone staircase.

There is a lift to all floors. On the lower-ground floor is a spacious courtyard garden terrace and there are ornamental balconies on the first floor.

The planning permissions would allow for the creation of a magnificent subterranean swimming pool and spa area.

To help a potential buyer envisage how the home might look post-refurbishment, award-winning interior design company Casa e Progetti has created images of the main rooms. These fuse English and French aristocratic styles to reveal an elegance and grandeur that could be the bedrock of house's future decor.

“These detailed CGI drawings by Casa e Progetti are based on detailed research for an authentic interior design,” Peter Wetherell, founder and chairman of Wetherell estate agents told The National.

“The images are not simply AI-generated or without thought, as every single aspect of the rooms – from the paint colour to the accessories – has been researched. There is a full specification list available, so if a buyer wanted to bring these visions to life they can.

“Casa e Progetti looked at the work of legendary French interior designer Stéphane Boudin of Paris interior decorating firm Maison Jansen for the Louis XVI interiors, to create a comprehensive set of images fit for how the property could look as a palatial family home.”

That is what makes this property so rare – at an exclusive and historic London address, it affords the new owner the chance build their own vision, rather than adapting someone else's.

“£70 million is an indication of what value the property could have as a single family home, looking at comparable properties in the area,” Mr Wetherell said.

“This would, of course, depend on the level of specification a buyer chooses for the restoration.”

Mayfair boom

The buyer of 139 Piccadilly will certainly be in good company. According to a recent survey by Beauchamp Estates, the market for super prime properties in Mayfair boomed in 2023, with the luxury homes being purchased by ultra-wealthy buyers from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the US.

The soaring market in Mayfair was illustrated recently with the biggest London real estate deal of 2023, when Aberconway House in South Street was sold to the Indian billionaire Adar Poonawalla for £138 million.

The 25,000-square foot mansion commanded the second largest-ever price tag in London.

Indeed, twice as many Mayfair super-prime homes sold in 2023 than in 2022, generating combined sales of £313 million, more than triple the £123 million generated in 2022.

“Mayfair is currently the most sought-after address in prime central London for wealthy homebuyers from around the world,” said Gary Hersham, founding director of Beauchamp Estates.

“The £10 million-plus deals landscape in Mayfair has been dominated by American and Middle East buyers who have undertaken cash purchases and taken advantage of preferential exchange rates for dollar buyers.”

Updated: December 21, 2023, 9:57 AM