February 20, 2015
Lord Byron would have liked the sauna
by Kirsten Reach
Looking for some serious real estate in Mayfair? Lord Byron‘s former home is up for grabs. It’s 17,800 square feet, in a prime location, and about to be converted from office space to a fancy-schmancy mansion.
Patrick Sawer reports for The Telegraph:
David and Simon Reuben have been given planning permission by Westminster Council to convert the building into an eight-bedroom mansion with swimming pool, sauna and staff quarters, worth an estimated £45 million.
The developers say the restored building – which is likely to be snapped up by a wealthy foreign buyer attracted by its prime location close to Green Park and Buckingham Palace – will be almost 20 times bigger than the average British home.
Lord Byron was living in 139 Piccadilly when he wrote The Siege of Corinth and Parsinia. It was known as Piccadilly Terrace.
His marriage also fell apart within those walls. As James Essinger recounts in Ada’s Algorithm, Byron met Annabella Milbanke at a waltzing party in March, 1812. (A waltzing party!) The party’s host was Lady Caroline Lamb, with whom Byron was having an affair–though Annabella didn’t know it. She found him brooding, brilliant, and misunderstood. Byron proposed to Annabella in October, though the author says it was a strange proposal. Byron was in the bad habit of gossiping about Annabella with her aunt.
Annabella rejected him. They exchanged increasingly flirtatious letters over the next two years, and Annabella finally accepted his second proposal. They were married in January 1815 and lived together in 139 Piccadilly.
Around their first anniversary, Byron suggested they put the property up for sale. He was in debt and poetry didn’t pay so well, even in 1816. He suggested Annabella stay with her parents for a while. She was convinced he’d lost his mind, and sought a doctor’s help. The doctor told her to go to her parents’.
It’s hardly a surprise that she left Byron in the night, taking their only daughter, Ada Lovelace. These were not the best years of Byron’s life, but they could be yours. And £45 million is a bargain, if you’re sharing your sauna with the ghost of Byron.
Kirsten Reach was an editor at Melville House.