Property of the Week: Aviation Tycoon’s Former Mayfair ‘Pied-à-Terre’

Homes with history always make for great dinner party conversations, and this Mayfair property is pretty hard to beat in terms of dinner party guests…

The former home of aviation tycoon Sir Frederick Handley Page in Mayfair – which hosted the likes of American tycoon Howard Hughes, HM The Queen Mother and Sir Arthur Harris, the wartime Commander in Chief of the Royal Air Force Bomber Command – has just hit the market following a substantial refurbishment.

The third floor apartment at 18 Grosvenor Square extends the entire depth of the building, has four bedroom suites and a south-facing, double-volume reception room totaling 43.6 ft in length with five tall windows overlooking the world-renowned square.

The property, currently on sale with Wetherell for a cool £18.75 million, has a grand entrance hall with double doors leading into that magnificent reception room, a large family kitchen and breakfast room, master bedroom suite with walk-in dressing room and master bathroom, three further bedroom suites (each with en suite), a study, long gallery and guest powder room.

In total, the property provides 3,541 sq ft of lateral living space, and one of the bedrooms has been designed to serve as a media room or private cinema.

It’s being touted as one of the finest residences on Grovesnor Square, and it comes complete with an English Heritage Blue Plaque boasting Sir Frederick’s residence.

‘The property is being touted as one of the finest residences on Grovesnor Square, and it comes complete with an English Heritage Blue Plaque’

Number 18 Grosvenor Square was built in 1938-1939 in a neo-Georgian style to designs by Detmar Blow, Estates Manager to the Duke of Westminster, and Fenand Billerey, the French Beaux-Arts architect. The internal fit out was disrupted by WWII, so residents were unable to move in until after 1945.

When Sir Frederick and his wife Lady Una moved into the apartment in 1946, he was already a legend in the global aviation industry. His company, Handley Page Limited, established in 1909, was the first British public company to build aircraft.

The Handley Page Factory built bombers essential for British success in WWI. During WWII, Sir Frederick’s factories produced the famous Halifax bomber, a major component of Bomber Command. In 1942 he was Knighted by King George VI for the Halifax and his contribution to the war effort.

Postwar Sir Frederick and Lady Una spent weekends at Limes House in Middlesex, their magnificent country house. When in London during weekdays, the 18 Grosvenor Square apartment served as the couple’s luxurious Mayfair pied-a-terre.

Post-War Handley Page Limited produced the V-Bomber, part of Britain’s nuclear deterrent, and also the Herald airliner, a favourite of HM The Queen Mother for her journeys from London to Balmoral and Birkhall.

In 1959 American aviation tycoon Howard Hughes made a rare visit to London, visiting Sir Frederick at 18 Grosvenor Square to discuss Hughes Aircraft acquiring Handley Page Limited, but a deal was never agreed.

After Lady Una’s death in 1957 Sir Frederick spent most of his time at the Mayfair property until his death in 1962, at the age of 76. Following his death, Handley Page Limited went into decline and – despite attempts by Howard Hughes to rescue the company – went into liquidation in 1970.

‘Grosvenor Square itself is currently being revamped with a new landscaping scheme and enhanced public realm scheme’

Today, Sir Frederick’s former apartment has recently been completely modernised and refurbished with Statuary marble flooring to the entrance hall, marble fireplaces at each end of the reception room, panelled walls, marble-clad columns between the windows, and handcrafted European oak flooring.

The room is dressed to provide a living area, entertaining area with grand piano, and a 10-seater formal dining area, while the handcrafted family kitchen has bespoke cabinetry and integrated Sub-Zero Wolff and Miele appliances.

The master bedroom suite has luxury carpets and a walk-in dressing room lined with bespoke, fully-fitted wardrobes, as well as marble, walls and vanity unit in the en suite bathroom, which also features a free-standing bath, walk-in rain shower/steam room and underfloor heating.

Grosvenor Square itself is currently being revamped with a new landscaping scheme and enhanced public realm scheme, while the former Canadian Embassy and US Naval Building are being transformed back into luxury apartment buildings, and the former US Embassy is set to become a 5-star Rosewood Hotel with cafes and luxury boutiques.

‘With its iconic address and garden square views, this expansive Mayfair residence at 18 Grosvenor Square is the finest newly refurbished apartment in Grosvenor Square,’ says Peter Wetherell, Chief Executive of Wetherell.

‘It is here that aviation pioneer Sir Frederick Handley Page lived and entertained for almost two decades with guests including war heroes, captains of industry, Royalty and American tycoon Howard Hughes. This is an exceptional trophy property, which would serve as an excellent long-term investment and main London residence.’

18 Grosvenor Square is for sale for £18,750,000, with use of the Four Seasons Residence Health Club and Spa part of an additional service charge offering. Viewing is strictly by appointment. Call Wetherell on 020 7529 5566 or see