Winfield House

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Winfield House
Winfield House ambassadorial residence.jpg
The garden front in 2009
Former names St Dunstan's
General information
Architectural style Neo-Georgian
Location Regent's Park
London, England, UK
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 US Ambassador to the UK and family (since 1955)
Completed c. 1936
Owner United States government
Design and construction
Architect Leonard Rome Guthrie
Architecture firm Wimperis, Simpson and Guthrie

Winfield House is a mansion in Regent's Park, London, England, commissioned in 1936 by American heiress Barbara Hutton. The grounds are 12 acres (4.9 ha); the second-largest private garden in the British capital after that of Buckingham Palace. Since 1955 it has been the official residence of the United States Ambassador. The house is Grade II listed as an "exceptional ambassador's residence and as a notable Neo-Georgian town house containing numerous features of note."[1] It is located near Quinlan Terry's Regent's Park villas.

Property before Winfield House[edit]

The first house on the site was Hertford Villa, the largest of the eight homes originally built in the park as part of John Nash's development scheme. That house was designed by Decimus Burton for the notorious Regency rake, Francis Seymour-Conway, 3rd Marquess of Hertford, who used it for orgies.[2] Later, the Georgian villa was known as St Dunstan's because of the distinctive clock that hung in front of it, which was purchased by the art-collecting Marquess of Hertford when material from St Dunstan-in-the-West was auctioned off in 1829–30 prior to the church's demolition.[3]

Subsequent occupants of the home included American financier Otto Kahn and British newspaper proprietor Lord Rothermere. During World War I, Kahn lent the house to a new charity for blinded servicemen, which took the name of St Dunstan's.[4] Later, Lord Rothermere returned the clock to the new St Dunstan's church in the Strand to mark the Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935. After a fire in 1936, the house was purchased by Barbara Hutton and then demolished.[2]

1936 to 1955[edit]

Hutton commissioned a new mansion to be built in the Neo-Georgian style, which was designed by Leonard Rome Guthrie of the English architectural practice Wimperis, Simpson and Guthrie.[1] The house was at first known by the name of its predecessor (St Dunstan's), but Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, head of the charity, approached Hutton to explain 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 he asked that she give up the historical name.[5] 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 St Dunstan's charity changed its name to Blind Veterans UK.

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 Hutton at the time. After the war, Hutton sold the house to the American government for one dollar.[2] 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 previous residence at 14 Prince's Gate had been deemed inadequately secure.

The first ambassador in residence was Winthrop Aldrich; others included 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 in 1969 by William Haines, a 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 Great Seal of the United States
  • 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 Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1389411)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  2. ^ a b c Stourton. Page 153.
  3. ^ Godwin, George; John Britton (1829). The Churches of London. London.
  4. ^ My Story of St Dunstan's (1961) by Lord Fraser of Lonsdale
  5. ^ p. 361 My Story of St Dunstan's (1961) by Lord Fraser of Lonsdale

Bibliography[edit]

  • Stourton, James (2012). Great Houses of London (Hardback)|format= requires |url= (help). London: Frances Lincoln. ISBN 978-0-7112-3366-9.
  • Tuttle, Maria; Binney, Marcus (2008). Winfield House (Hardback)|format= requires |url= (help). London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 978-0500976784.

External links[edit]