A peek inside one of the most expensive houses in Britain

Tuesday 6th November 2012

Perhaps it is the profusion of decorative adornments found on the stone work on the exterior of the house, influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement.

Maybe it is the Classical influences more notable inside the home with its focus on symmetry and elaborate cornices.

Or it could just be the uneven roof line and individual roofs over large bays, all indicative of the Scottish Baronial influence, part of the Gothic Revival building style.

Whatever it is that attracts you to this unique Grade II listed private residence, originally constructed in 1910 for William Park Lyle of the Tate & Lyle family, you are sure to be in awe of the wide range of architectural characteristics on show at this magnificent property.

Originally designed and built by architects Henry Victor Ashley and F. Winton Newman, the house, located on The Bishops Avenue, north London, otherwise known as millionaire’s row, has been sympathetically restored to its full glory by a team of over 100 builders and master craftsmen. 

The owner of the property is Andreas Panayiotou, a self-made British tycoon, said to be worth around £500m and ranked 200th on the Rich List. He purchased the house in 2006, with a view to reviving the property’s architecture, which now reflects that of its rich history, while the interior has been updated and modernised to offer a perfect blend of the old and new.

He said: “As a developer, I saw the potential to restore the property, which was in disrepair, with just mere glimpses of what the house originally looked like. But I underestimated how much work was involved and just how long it would take to complete.”

The six-year project, which saw the rear of the property extended to increase the living space from 19,000 to 27,000 square foot, brought back to life many of the property’s period charms, such as concealed fire places and  original tiles.

Panayiotou also wanted to install the latest state-of-the-art technology, including a Crestron home-automation system which allows you to remotely control the heating, run your bath or monitor CCTV from anywhere in the world. Security is highly important, with a first floor dressing room with a steel wall which doubles as a panic room.

The result is a beautifully finished house called Heath Hall, formerly referred to as East Weald, which combines elegant classic interior with modern sophistication for contemporary living, to create a residence like no other in London.

Heath Hall features 14 bedrooms, six main reception rooms, two kitchens, a library, a cinema which has cream suede walls and a ground floor leisure complex, including a gymnasium and a white stone swimming pool. There is also an outdoor pool in black mosaic, a tennis court and off-street parking for 45 cars.

Upstairs there is an oval bath located just off the master bedroom which is cut from one single piece of magenta-veined Italian marble, at a cost of £220,000. The plasterwork and fireplaces throughout the property have been restored with some featuring white gold paint.

Externally, flora and fauna native to the British Isles can be found on the lead panelling, rainwater hoppers and the stone work, including holly, mistletoe, oak, rose, wheat, rabbits and squirrels.

A diamond motif is another key recurring theme in the architecture. The geometric pattern appears frequently, on brickwork, chimney stacks, tile panels, brick parapets, cornices and the oak balustrade.

Mr Panayiotou spent in the region of £65m restoring the property to its former beauty, but he admits that he did not have a fixed budget when it came to upgrading the home in order to do it justice.

“I never work with budgets,” he said. “I do whatever the asset requires, and quite frankly not a lot of people would have taken this property on.”  

When Panayiotou initially intended to live in the property with his family, but eventually decided to remain at his 25-acre country estate in Epping Forest, opting to put Heath Hall up for sale instead.

He has instructed estate agents Glentree Estates in north London to sell the property at an asking price of £100m, making it one of the most expensive homes on the market in Britain today.

Trevor Abrahmsohn, the managing director of Glentree Estates, who likens Heath Hall to a prized classic car, said: “This grand country-style property with sprawling land, a short distance from central London, is extraordinary in many respects. It also offers someone an opportunity to buy into a grand English lifestyle in what is arguably the most important capital city in the world.”

The estate agent believes that the property will probably be sold to a buyer from Asia, Russia or the Middle East, but Panayiotou does not appear to be in a rush to sell what he refers to as his “work of art”.





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