In the late nineteenth century, demand for prime London property was checked by a lack of available land for development. The solution was a new class of apartment building: the mansion block. We take a look at the history of these beautiful Victorian and Edwardian homes and explore a range of available properties from £465k-£6m+.
“At a challenging time for prime central London real estate, mansion block properties are swimming against the tide and retaining their appeal as well as anything else in Zone 1."
Felicity Walker is our sales manager for South Kensington, and has extensive experience dealing with this type of property. She summarises the main reasons for their sustained popularity: "Mansion blocks are a brilliant investment; solid, well-run and well-laid-out."
What are mansion blocks?
Mansion blocks are apartment buildings from the Victorian or Edwardian eras, often constructed from red or yellow brick. They tend to be found in more prestigious areas of the city, offering ornate facades and lateral flats with period features and high ceilings.
After a significant housebuilding push during the 18th and early 19th centuries, land in desirable London locations was becoming scarce. Wealthy buyers still wanted homes in these areas, but blocks of flats were then perceived as housing for the lower classes or foreign buyers. House builders took a big risk by trying to change this association, but the early success of developments such as Kensington's Albert Hall Mansions cemented the popularity of the mansion block.
Mansion block vs. period conversion
Buyers and renters looking for a period apartment in London's more upmarket areas generally now have the choice of either a conversion property or a mansion block flat. Georgian townhouse conversions are popular but mansion blocks offer a variety of attractive benefits that house hunters may not be aware of. Felicity Walker explains the particular appeal of these heritage homes:
“Mansion block flats offer period charm with a historically lower price point than conversion apartments in Georgian properties, and are particularly attractive to families," she states. "Although some people prefer the white stucco-fronted Georgian style to the red brick of mansion blocks, they offer a range of benefits that most period conversions of Georgian townhouses will not."
“One appealing feature – for families in particular – is the inclusion of a lift in many mansion blocks," she adds. "The majority of conversion properties will not have a lift."
As Felicity goes on to state, mansion blocks are purpose-built as apartments, often giving them the edge over conversion properties in terms of space and practicality:
“Mansion block apartments also benefit from more proportional layouts as they are purpose-built as apartments and enjoy better zoning – with living areas on one side and bedrooms on the other. More lateral space is offered, whereas some conversions can suffer from wasted areas of space due to awkward layouts.
“Another attractive feature of mansion blocks is the quality of soundproofing between floors. Being specifically designed as individual homes, the space between the ceiling and the floor above in these properties is much wider than you would find in a period conversion."
As well as imposing exteriors and often marble-floored hallways, most mansion flats also offer plenty of original interior features.
“Mansion blocks offer a wealth of period details, such as picture rails, cornicing, fireplaces, large windows and high ceilings (some up to 5m high). In my experience they are also, without exception, extremely well-managed. Porter services are usually included, offering excellent security and providing an additional draw for buyers."
Prince of Wales Drive, SW11
1 bedroom flat | £465,000
This prestigious block on Prince of Wales Drive overlooks Battersea Park and includes a porter service – as found in most mansion blocks. High ceilings and large sash windows create a bright and airy interior, while the communal courtyard provides the perfect spot for al fresco dining during the warmer months.
Hurlingham Court, Hurlingham, SW6
2 bedroom flat | £850,000
A sought-after building in Fulham's highly desirable Hurlingham neighbourhood, this two bedroom apartment has recently been refurbished to create a bright and modern interior. A very spacious master bedroom includes built-in storage, while Hurlingham Court's communal grounds offer stunning views over The Thames. Members of the renowned Hurlingham Club nearby will enjoy some of the finest tennis facilities in London, as well as a range of other leisure and dining facilities.
Heath Drive, Hampstead, NW3
£1,250,000 | 4 bedroom apartment
Albemarle Mansions is a magnificent Hampstead block offering easy access to Hampstead, West Hampstead and Finchley Road stations. This lateral four bedroom apartment offers bright and generous living space, including a reception room and second bedroom that both feature fireplaces and bay windows, plus master bedroom with en-suite.
Artillery Mansions, Victoria Street, Victoria, SW1H
£1,395,000 | 3 bedroom apartment
An imposing building in the heart of Westminster, Artillery Mansions is built around a private courtyard, providing a sense of exclusivity and seclusion from the busyness of Victoria Road. This three bedroom apartment is laid out over the raised ground and lower ground floors of the building, and offers a wealth of beautifully-finished space with en-suite to the master bedroom, as well as a family bathroom and separate WC. Residents in the block also benefit from concierge services.
Embankment Gardens, Chelsea, SW3
£4,500,000 | 2 bedroom apartment
Recently remodelled to the highest standards, this beautifully-positioned apartment within Embankment Gardens enjoys a south-facing aspect with views across Chelsea Embankment to The Thames. The double reception room and adjoining kitchen / dining area provides ample entertaining space, while each bedroom features an en-suite and plenty of fitted storage space.
Pont Street, Knightsbridge, SW1X
£6,100,000 | 3 bedroom apartment
A truly magnificent apartment in a stunning apartment block located between Sloane Square and Knightsbridge. Arranged across the first and second floors, the luxurious yet restrained decor emphasises the sense of space created by the high ceilings and French windows out onto the balcony from the reception area. The large kitchen and dining area also benefits from a balcony, while the master bedroom boasts a screened dressing area and en-suite with walk-in shower.
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