For sale: Daphne du Maurier’s childhood home in heart of Hampstead
PUBLISHED: 19:18 29 September 2014 | UPDATED: 10:58 02 October 2014
A rare opportunity to purchase one of Hampstead’s most historic houses has arisen as Cannon Hall is put on the market.
This is a house with history seeping from every pore. Built in 1730, it was bought in 1916 by Gerald du Maurier, the first actor to play Captain Hook and real-life uncle to the J.M. Barrie’s inspiration for the Lost Boys in Peter Pan.
His daughters Angela and her sister, Daphne spent much of their childhoods in the house.
A sweet anecdote relates how Daphne du Maurier, a youthful fan of Katherine Mansfield’s books, would wave goodnight to a light in a window of a house that backed on to Cannon Hall from East Heath Road. Years later she would discover that Mansfield had lived on that street and would work there late into the night.
While Gerald du Maurier gets the blue plaque distinction, the property has housed many equally enthralling residents. The private physician of King George III, Sir Noah Thomas, lived in the mansion in 1780, while a number of local magistrates lived in the house, which at one time had the original Hampstead Lock-up next door.
Cannon are used as bollards outside the front gate and are also dotted about the grounds as ornamental features, a distinctive feature which gives the property its name.
Trevor Abrahmsohn director of Glentree Estates who are joint selling the house said: “To own this house says a lot about the buyer – you’re walking in the steps of cultured figures. And it’s got provenance. What other house has got provenance? It’s steeped in history and you feel it, its history is almost palpable.
“These properties usually stay in private hands for generations. The opportunity to be able to buy this type of property is very rare.”
The £32,000,000 price tag reflects the special nature of the six bedroom house, which covers 10,000 square feet and sits on half an acre of land in the half of Hampstead Village.
“You can’t see much of the house from the outside, just the outside wall. It’s so English and restrained,” continues Abrahmsohn.
“My favourite feature is the main salon. To me it represents what’s perfect about Hampstead on a Sunday: peace and quiet, the ticking of a clock, natural light and fresh air, gentle classical music in the background, dogs that have just come in from a walk on the Heath, reading the papers. It’s a quintessentially English property.”
Although the house boasts a swimming pool and fulfils all the requirements of modern luxury, neither Glentree nor Savills, the other agents for the property, are expecting it to sell to a flashy international buyer but are expecting a passionate Hampstodian will fit (and foot) the bill.
It’s not only the historic pedigree that has the agents excited. Indeed, Frank Townsend, director of residential at Savills Hampstead says: “Only 6 per cent of listed homes have a Grade II* listing. That emphasises what an iconic architectural structure it is.
“Everything about the building’s architecture is wonderful, right down to the granite sets in the courtyard and the clock tower.
“If you didn’t know you were in Hampstead, you’d think you were looking at a Georgian rectory in the countryside.
“There’s a handful of these properties left and they come up every 20 years or so when people have a life change,” warns Townsend.
“It’s a once-in-a-property-lifetime chance to buy this property. It really is a bit of a must view.”