The Bishops Avenue
The Bishops Avenue, London N2, connects the north side of Hampstead Heath at Kenwood (Hampstead Lane), Hampstead to East Finchley and is on the boundary of the London Boroughs of Barnet and Haringey. It is considered to be one of the wealthiest streets in the world, comparable to a select few ultra-exclusive roads in such other affluent places around the world as Beverly Hills, Monaco and Hong Kong. Many of the houses, including the Toprak Mansion, are influenced by designs of Ancient Greece and Rome and traditional English country houses. Average property prices on the avenue surpassed £1 million in the late 1980s and each property occupies a 2-3 acre plot. In 2006, the smallest houses in the street were selling for £5 million while a larger house, Turkish tycoon Halis Toprak's 30,000 sq ft (2,800 m2) Toprak Mansion, sold amidst great secrecy to the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, for £50 million in January 2008, making it one of the most expensive houses in the world, as listed by Forbes magazine. Homes on the street are on the market for up to £65 million.
It is named after the Bishops Wood through which it runs, formerly owned by the Bishop of London (as was much of the surrounding area) following a land grant in 704. In 1894 the Church of England let building plots for construction of homes on the road. In the 20th century much of the land was sold by the Church, which now only owns one house on the road (46, The Bishop's Avenue) and a nearby residential home.
The road is a favourite with the international 'über-rich' and is often referred to by its nickname of "Millionaires' Row" (although recently, it has been referred to as "Billionaires' Row"). The 66-house street and the parallel Winnington Road display a variety of architectural styles.
Ten of the houses are owned by the House of Saud, whilst other owners of houses on the street include the Sultan of Brunei and members of the House of Bolkiah, publisher and newspaper magnate Richard Desmond, art collector and philanthropist Poju Zabludowicz, and industrialist Lakshmi Mittal.
Former residents have included Sir Billy Butlin, Dame Gracie Fields, Katie Boyle, Sir Peter Saunders (producer of the play The Mousetrap), the businessmen Asil Nadir and Emil Savundra and Heather Mills (the former wife of Paul McCartney), who owned an apartment there.
The area's leading estate agent Trevor Abrahmsohn was quoted in 2006 as saying: "Among the wealthiest circles in the world, The Bishop's Avenue is better known than Buckingham Palace. It's a significant demonstration of status. If you live there, you don't need to explain to people that you're rich."
The Guardian revealed in 2014 that in total 16 of the properties (an estimated worth of £350 million) are derelict and have not been lived in for several decades. According to one resident, perhaps only three of the houses are occupied on a full-time basis.
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- "Andy Panayiotou owns most expensive house in UK". Parikiaki.com. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
- "Your chance to snap up a new home in Britain's 'blingest' street... that's if you have a spare £65million to spend". Mail Online. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
- New London Property Guide
- "Britain's blingest road". London: The Times. 2005-05-22. Retrieved 2009-09-21.
- Foggo, Daniel (2008-11-09). "Kazakh leader ‘secretly owns’ £50m home". London: The Times. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
- Booth, Robert (31 January 2014). "Inside 'Billionaires Row': London's rotting, derelict mansions worth £350m". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 8 February 2014.
- "Finchley Manors". A History of the County of Middlesex (British History Online) 6: 55–59. 1980. Retrieved 2007-05-16.
- "Down on Billionaires Row...". London: The Observer. 2006-04-30. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
- "Character Appraisal: The Bishop's Avenue". London Borough of Barnet. 1999-02-01. Retrieved 2007-05-16.
- Kamal, Ahmed; Barnett, Anthony; Morgan, Oliver & Connolly, Kate (2002-02-17). "Labour's steel king backs US, not UK". The Observer (London).
- "Heather Mills' £2.5m bargain pad". The People. 2008-12-28. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
- Abrahmsohn, Trevor. "Estate Agent". Retrieved 19 February 2014.
- Aerial photo of The Bishops Avenue. Other map and aerial photo sources. The relative plot size between The Bishops Avenue and Winnington Road, the parallel road to the west is striking.
- Barnet Council Planning applications. Full documentation, usually including detailed plans, is available for decisions since 2006. (Public userid/password: barnet/barnet).
- Alison Beard, Billionaire's Boulevard, Financial Times, 22 June 2007.