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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." It is located near Quinlan Terry's Regent's Park villas.
The garden front in 2009
|Former names||St Dunstan's|
London, England, UK
|Current tenants||US Ambassador to the UK and family (since 1955)|
|Owner||United States government|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Leonard Rome Guthrie|
|Architecture firm||Wimperis, Simpson and Guthrie|
Property before Winfield HouseEdit
The first house on the site was Hertford Villa, the largest of the eight villas originally constructed in the park, in the development scheme of John Nash. The original house on the site, which became known as 'St. Dunstan's', was designed by Decimus Burton in 1825 for Francis Seymour-Conway, 3rd Marquess of Hertford, who used it for orgies. Burton's creation was described as, 'decorated simplicity, such as the hand of taste, aided by the purse of wealth can alone execute'. Burton's creation was subsequently reconstructed as a building with a modern exterior. 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.
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. 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.
1936 to 1955Edit
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. 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. 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. In the early 1950s, the building was used as the London officers' club for the U.S. Third Air Force.
Ambassador's official residenceEdit
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1389411)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
- Williams, Guy (1990). Augustus Pugin Versus Decimus Burton: A Victorian Architectural Duel. London: Cassell Publishers Ltd. p. 137. ISBN 0-304-31561-3.
- Stourton. Page 153.
- Jones, Christopher (2017). Picturesque Urban Planning - Tunbridge Wells and the Suburban Ideal: The Development of the Calverley Estate 1825 - 1855. University of Oxford, Department of Continuing Education. p. 209.
- Godwin, George; John Britton (1829). The Churches of London. London.
- My Story of St Dunstan's (1961) by Lord Fraser of Lonsdale
- p. 361 My Story of St Dunstan's (1961) by Lord Fraser of Lonsdale