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5, Hamilton Place, London, England

Lionel de Rothschild (1808-1879) acquired the lease of 5 Hamilton Place situated behind his house at 148 Piccadilly bordering Hyde Park. He bequeathed it to his youngest son, Leopold (1845-1917).

Re-modelling in 1881

Initially planning to rebuild the house altogether, Leopold finally decided to keep the existing structure but make alterations. The house became a vast mansion of white stone, a pastiche of various styles not really typical of late Victorian architecture. William Rogers, of the firm William Cubitt & Co., who designed the alterations in 1881, added two storeys, a conservatory the whole height of the north front, and open arcades along both sides of the ground floor.  The basement storey was extended underneath the terraces and part of the garden, and at the top of the property, the roofs and attics were removed and the walls raised several feet higher to obtain two storeys of bedrooms. Additional space was added on two sides of the house, as high as the level of the second floor.  This created an open corridor or arcade on both sides of the ground floor; but on the first floor, an open loggia was created in the central portion of the west front, and a glazed gallery the whole length of the north front.

Decoration

Inside, Leopold employed 40 Italian craftsmen from the Florentine workshop of Rinaldo Barbetti, who worked for two years to complete the superb panelling in the library, handcarved in maple and mahogany. There was a serpentine staircase and a kitchen where a whole ox could be roasted on a spit. The house also boasted a hydraulic lift, supplied by huge water tanks stored under the new roof.

The gardens

The house had private gardens to the north and west, and from the drawing room windows there were magnificent views of Hyde Park.  These views were even more splendid from the upper floors. The space over the loggia on the west front was an open terrace, frequently used for entertaining in the summer, and the gardens boasted a tennis court.

The house was sold of after the death of Leopold’s wife, Marie, in 1937, later becoming a well-known London club, Les Ambassadeurs.

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