OPEN HOUSE 2014: THE ARGENTINE AMBASSADOR'S RESIDENCE IN BELGRAVIA
For those of you reading on-line novel Belgravia by Downton Abbey's Julian Fellowes, this will give you a few peeks at the neighborhood to supplement the material in the app.
Entry of 49 Belgrave Square
This was our last stop on Open City Sunday in September, 2014, and our Finale to the Pre- and Post-Duke of Wellington Tour. Victoria here, admitting that Kristine and I were about exhausted. In fact, beyond exhausted. But heck, we were in London and we couldn't pass up ANYTHING. So we took a taxi across town -- or actually, not very far, to Belgrave Square from Whitehall.
In Belgravia, the atmosphere is quite different. It is primarily a residential neighborhood, though rarely single-family homes, for which these buildings were created. A number of embassies, institutions and apartments are now found here, and the attractive mews, once the home of the horses, carriages and grooms of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, are now quaint houses and condos.
WE walked all around this particular house to see every angle...though sadly, no pictures were allowed in the elegant interior.
49 Belgrave Square was part of Thomas Cubitt's development of the area in the 1850's. The houses were designed for wealthy London residents, with ample space for large families, many servants, and space for entertaining.
Wikipedia tells us it is a Grade II listed house, first owned by Sidney Herbert, 1st Baron Herbert of Lea, and later by the Duke of Richmond, then the Beit family.
Sir Otto Beit in his study, 49 Belgrave Square by William Orpen, 1913, Johannesburg Art Gallery
Wikipedia says, "The building was acquired by Argentina in 1936, and has since been used as their Ambassador's official London residence...In World War II, the house became a meeting place and haven for Argentines who volunteered in the British forces, mostly as pilots."
By now both Kristine and I had bluddy stubs for feet...and though we tried one more nearby club where the limited spaces had all been filled, we were satisfied with our day. One more flight of stairs and I would have sat down and sobbed.
We couldn't even broach this entrance!
As close to getting inside the Caledonian Club as we came
So, sated with all the sights we had enjoyed, we fumbled our way "home" to Hampstead, grabbed a bite of dinner, and sadly packed for our flights back to the States the next morning.
But, never fear, fellow travelers. Intrepid tour guide extraordinaire, Kristine herself, will be masterminding more tours in the near future. Watch this spot for further information and save your pennies, shillings, and pounds.