Our opportunity to reside in Albany came through knowing Nigel Nickelson who was aware of John Richardson's departure to N.Y.C. as Knoedler's Vice President. It allowed us to take residence in the Seventies for some years.
Said to be the oldest apartment block in London, 1774, it's proved to be a home, once inhabited, you never quite leave or forget.
First known as Melborne House after Viscount Melborne, later occupied by Prince Frederick Duke of York & Albany 1763-1827, left to the son of King George III, and known as York House.
It was decided that 69 "Sets" should be erected in the rear garden, Apartments for Gentlemen and Aristocrats. To name just a few of the residents:
Lord Byron William Gladstone Lord Palmerston Sir Edward Heath Lady Thatcher Aldous Huxley Patrick Hamilton Graham Greene J B Priestley Sir Harold Nicolson Georgette Heyer Baroness Pauline de Rothschild Somerset Maugham Sir Thomas Beecham Sir Terence Rattigan Terence Stamp
Our chambers were situated at the northern end of Ropewalk convenient to the back entrance leading to Savile Row and Bond St.
We had a large ground floor "set" which came with lower ground floor and top floor, our neighbour J B Priestley having the middle floor.
Being an artist, the first pleasures on entering the chambers were to be found in the entrance hall. Six beautifully framed life-size drawings by Edward Burne Jones. The works specifically for church windows, were superb!
From there one entered the Salon, a generous room with high ceilings and a huge Georgian window facing the Ropewalk. Walls were covered with wide stripe olive green flock, and the wainscot below marblised by French craftsmen. All the woodwork and doors painted to resemble Birdseye walnut gave a continuity to the adjoining rooms hung with French striped mattress ticking. The very large bath-dressing room came with a mahogany enclosed bath and gold taps.
Richardson's art collection was impressive
Reynolds large painting of George III, Tissots, Degas, Picasso, Leger, many beautiful prints and drawings. The furnishings being mostly Empire with a sleigh bed, Roman busts and many books.
So much at hand on Piccadilly, the Royal Academy of Art, Hatchards, Fortnam & Masons, plus Theatre and the Concert Halls.
Each weekday morning to arrive at my art school, I would walk along Piccadilly, turn left into Green Park to walk south and cross the Mall to enter my favourite park, St James. On the small bridge I would look towards Buckingham Palace, so proud to be British, so happy to have residence on Piccadilly.
Indeed the pleasures of Albany were many. One can't live there uninvolved with its magnificent history. I have enjoyed the hours of researching
:The Best Address in London: Lesley Deacon