Grand London mansion with a hint of historical scandal on sale for £23.5m

Having played host to royalty and socialites, this Belgravia mansion was linked to the disappearance of Lord Lucan

The mansion in Lyall Street, Belgravia. Photo: Beauchamps Estates
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Belgravia is a remarkable area of London. From Hyde Park to Victoria, bordering Buckingham Palace on one side and the retail delights of Chelsea and the King's Road to the west, you'd expect it to be overrun with tourists and shoppers.

But the elite streets of Belgravia are a haven of peace in London – grand residences look down on small, well-kept leafy squares, which are open only to the area's residents.

The list of rich and famous residents, both former and current, is lengthy. Royals from all over Europe, ultra-wealthy socialites and famous actors have all lived in Belgravia at one time or another – it's rumoured that a young Mozart composed his first symphony in its quiet streets, where later, two James Bonds, Sean Connery and Roger Moore, had houses.

As such, a rare opportunity to live in this most sedate and exclusive part of London has presented itself – the former Belgravia mansion of the casino tycoon and zoo owner John Aspinall has come on the market priced at £23.5 million ($29.4 million).

'Magnificent trophy home'

It was at the magnificent 5,456 square foot, five-bedroom property on Lyall Street where Mr Aspinall, known to his friends as Aspers, partied with Lord Lucan and Sir Jimmy Goldsmith.

The day after Lord Lucan's disappearance in November 1974, when the peer seemed to have fled the country after the murder of his children's nanny, Mr Aspinall and his friends Charles Benson, Dominic Elwes and Bill Shand-Kydd gathered for lunch in the dining room.

Tabloid newspapers have since speculated, with no evidence, that the group had plotted and assisted in Lord Lucan's disappearance. Nonetheless, a whiff of scandal remains to this day, even though the elusive Lord Lucan was never found and was declared dead in 2016.

"Lord Lucan was a regular guest and the house gained global publicity when it was involved in the events surrounding his disappearance, which remains a mystery to this day," said Gary Hersham, founding director of Beauchamp Estates, the agent for the mansion's sale.

"Now fully refurbished, modernised and interior-designed, it offers a magnificent trophy home for a family wanting a large house in Belgravia, one of London’s most sought-after addresses.”

After John Aspinall's death in 2000, the mansion became the London home of property developer Charles Delevingne, where his daughters Chloe, Poppy and Cara grew up.

Socialites and actresses, the Delevingne sisters have modelled for Burberry, Chanel, Stella McCartney, Versace and Louis Vuitton and also count Princess Beatrice and Sienna Miller among their friends.

As an actress, Cara is best known for playing Margo Roth Spiegelman in the romantic mystery film Paper Towns (2015), the Enchantress in the comic book film Suicide Squad (2016), and Laureline in Luc Besson's Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017).

At 18 years old, Poppy made an appearance in the Sunday Morning music video by Maroon 5. Later, she would play the role of Clara Von Gluckfberg in Kingsman: The Golden Circle. She also appeared in The Boat that Rocked and Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie.

Eldest daughter Chloe now lives with her husband and two children in Finstock, a quiet village in the Cotswolds north-west of Oxford, having spent her teenage years in the Belgravia mansion.

By 2014, the Delevingnes had moved on and within a couple of years, the mansion was bought by its current owners who launched an impressive refurbishment and upgrading project, creating an interior which is both homely and grand; both cosy and, let's face it, nothing short of fun, with a stunning design partly inspired by the 1960s glitzy Aspinall casino and private members' club heritage of the property.

Immaculately presented, the Grade II mansion, built in 1839, has a classic grand double frontage that leads into an exceptionally ornate entrance hall, with marble slab flooring, a Regency marble fireplace and a sweeping staircase hall giving access to the upper floors.

The substantial accommodation of nearly 5,500 square feet is spread over lower ground, ground and three upper floors, all of which are connected by a lift.

The dining room where Mr Aspinall and his friends met after Lord Lucan's disappearance is now a sitting room with a distinctly elegant eastern feel. The room has a beautifully Chinese-style blue and ivory design scheme, with furniture and carpets inlaid with Japanese dragons.

To the rear of the ground floor is the state-of-the-art, fully-fitted family kitchen, with Gaggenau appliances and a central island.

The first floor is home to a huge main drawing room, which stretches the full width of the house and can be divided into a reception room and a dining room. It's from this space that French windows open on to a generous first-floor terrace, which sits above the mansion's pillared entrance portico.

The current owners have created a drawing room that pays homage to the fun and entertainment that is so much part of the house's history, with marble flooring, tall windows, beautiful chandeliers and deep carpets.

Resplendent with faux leopard skin throws, lavish red curtains and bespoke furniture, this is the vibrant space where Belgravia's rich and famous rubbed shoulders with members of Europe's royal families and England's landed gentry.

Spacious bedrooms

One floor above, the jade-themed principal bedroom suite takes up the entire second floor, complete with a very spacious main bedroom suite, walk-in dressing room and marble en-suite bathroom.

Elite visitors who have had their fill of excitement and entertainment in the drawing room can retire to the principal guest suite on the third floor, with its spacious bedroom, dressing room and en-suite bathroom.

The fourth floor plays host to two more bedrooms, one with separate dressing room and en-suite bathroom. A 40 foot-long roof terrace garden can be found on the top floor, with its own covered cocktail bar/kitchenette area ideal for outdoor entertaining.

More delights are below ground level in the Lyall Street mansion. The lower ground floor includes the fifth bedroom suite, an outside patio garden, cinema, gym, steam and spa room, professional chef’s kitchen and two storage vaults.

Houses of this calibre in areas such as Belgravia are a rarity on the open market. The new owners will be buying a slice of British history, a luxury family home and an elegant entertainment space that would be the envy of many.

“Offering both width and depth, this substantial Belgravia mansion benefits from large entertaining rooms, a wonderful roof garden with cocktail bar and a garden patio, alongside a range of luxurious leisure amenities including a cinema with cocktail bar and steam/spa room," said Charles Lloyd, head of Beauchamp Estates for Mayfair and Belgravia.

"It is one of the best houses currently available for sale in Belgravia and is immaculately presented and beautifully interior-designed.”

Updated: May 10, 2024, 3:20 PM