Winfield House

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Winfield House
Winfield House London.png
Winfield House 1936
General information
Architectural style Neo-Georgian
Location Regent's Park
London, England, United Kingdom
Coordinates 51°31′51″N 0°09′52″W / 51.5308°N 0.1644°W / 51.5308; -0.1644Coordinates: 51°31′51″N 0°09′52″W / 51.5308°N 0.1644°W / 51.5308; -0.1644
Current tenants United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom (since 1955)
Construction started 20th century
Completed 20th century
Owner United States government
Design and construction
Architect Leonard Rome Guthrie
Architecture firm Wimperis, Simpson and Guthrie

Winfield House is a mansion set in 12 acres (49,000 m²) of grounds in Regent's Park, the largest private garden in central London after that of Buckingham Palace. Since 1955, it has been the official residence of the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom. It is Grade II listed as an "exceptional ambassador's residence and as a notable Neo-Georgian town house containing numerous features of note."[1]

Property before Winfield House[edit]

The first house on the site was Hertford Villa, the largest of the eight originally built in the park as part of John Nash's development scheme. Later the Georgian villa was known as St Dunstan's, because of the distinctive clock that hung in front of it, purchased by art collector Francis Seymour-Conway, 3rd Marquess of Hertford when material from St Dunstan-in-the-West was auctioned off in 1829–30 prior to the church's demolition.[2] Later occupants included newspaper proprietor Lord Rothermere and the American financier Otto Hermann Kahn. Kahn lent it during World War I to a new charity for blinded servicemen, which took the name of St Dunstan's.[3] The villa was damaged by fire in the 1930s and was subsequently purchased by the American heiress Barbara Hutton, who demolished it.

1930s to 1955[edit]

In 1936, Hutton had a mansion built in the Neo-Georgian style, designed by Leonard Rome Guthrie of the English architectural practice Wimperis, Simpson and Guthrie.[1] It was at first known by the name of its predecessor, but Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, head of the charity, approached Hutton, explaining that the similarity in the name and location of her house and his organisation (still with an office in Regent's Park) caused confusion, and asking that she give up the historical name.[4] She agreed to the request and chose a new name, derived from her grandfather Frank Winfield Woolworth, who had an estate, Winfield Hall, in Glen Cove, New York. (In 2012 the charity changed its name to Blind Veterans UK.)

Hutton's only child, Lance Reventlow, was born in Winfield House.

During World War II, the house was used by a Royal Air Force 906 barrage balloon unit and as an officer's club. It was visited during the war by film actor Cary Grant, who was married to the owner at the time. Between February 1951 and June 1952, it was the home of comedian and actor Arthur Askey[citation needed].

After the war, Hutton sold the house to the American government for one dollar. In the early 1950s, the building was used as the London officers' club for the U.S. Third Air Force.

Ambassador's official residence[edit]

After extensive alterations, Winfield House became the ambassador's official residence in 1955. The first ambassador in residence was Winthrop Aldrich; others include Walter Annenberg, Anne Armstrong, and John Hay Whitney. The house has been visited by Queen Elizabeth II, several U.S. presidents and many distinguished guests.

The house is listed on the U.S. Secretary of State's Register of Culturally Significant Property, which denotes properties owned by the U.S. State Department with particular cultural or historical significance.

The interiors have undergone extensive alterations at several points, including 1969 by William Haines, decorator and former silent film star.[1]

Architectural features[edit]

Exterior[edit]

  • 13 bay entrance front with projecting three-bay ends flanking additional single storey entrance extension with central door flanked by Doric columns carrying a segment-topped parapet, containing a relief of the seal of the USA
  • Continuous heavy stone cornice on all sides, angle quoins to all corners
  • French windows with mullions and transoms to ground floor of each front
  • 6 over 9 pane sash windows to first floor elevations
  • 6 over 6 pane dormer windows to attic storey.[1]

Interior[edit]

  • Entrance hall with neo-Adam plasterwork
  • Reception hall entered via screen of paired fluted Doric columns
  • Pilasters with Doric entablatures, pedimented doorcases to walls
  • Green or Garden Room hung with Chinese wallpaper (originally from Townley Castle, County Louth, Ireland with Rococo carved chimneypiece
  • Second drawing room with 18th-century French boiseries and marble chimneypiece
  • Family dining room with English 18th-century-style panelling
  • State dining room with fine 18th-century French Rococo overdoor reliefs alongside later plasterwork
  • Staircase (altered 1969) with balustrade of wrought iron with lyre decoration and plaster ceiling top landing with screen of columns.
  • First-floor rooms, including bedroom (originally Hutton's own, now called the Hutton Room) with painted Etruscan decoration and a French marble chimney-piece with columns; several panelled bedrooms
  • Intact marble-lined bathrooms from Hutton's day.
  • Neo-Georgian wrought iron stairs with scrolled decoration and brass hand-rail to attic floor, on which numerous 1930s features (but not a mural) survive from the former nursery suite.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d [1] National Heritage List entry
  2. ^ Godwin, George; John Britton (1829). The Churches of London. London.
  3. ^ *My Story of St Dunstan's (1961) by Lord Fraser of Lonsdale
  4. ^ p361 My Story of St Dunstan's (1961) by Lord Fraser of Lonsdale

External links[edit]