Bankside was once considered one of the most disreputable areas of London in the 17th century, renowned for its brothels and animal baiting pits. And now a piece of that scandalous history can now be yours, as a notable Grade II listed property goes on sale…
This luxurious four-bed Grade II listed property on Park Street SE1 was once a notorious bear pit, and even makes an appearance in Samuel Pepys’ diaries. Regarded as some of the most important primary sources of the restoration period, the diaries provide eyewitness accounts of key historical events including the Plague and the Great Fire of London between 1660 and 1669.
The property, known as Pepys House, was built in 1860 on the site that Pepys describes as the bear pit in 1667, where dogs would set upon a bear for the spectators’ entertainment (excavation has revealed that parts of the bear pit remain underneath the building). The property, which has been in owner Andrew Davidson’s family since the 1930s, has also functioned as a factory creating bespoke lifts and manufacturing spares for marine engines in WWII.
When renovating the property, the major challenge for the architects Ray Thompson and Carolina Baroni, of thompson + baroni architects was to update the property while conserving its rich history and character.
‘As the building is Grade II listed we had to work closely with the historic buildings officer from Southwark Council,’ says Thompson tells me. ‘He was very clear that any element of the original building that was of any significance had to be either retained or replaced with a new version of the same material and detail.’
It has been a long wait for the area to benefit from long-sighted policies from developers and luminaries like Sam Wanamaker with the new Globe
That meant the tiles had to be genuine Welsh slate, the original wooden trusses had to be retained and the staircase was placed so that it would minimise disruption of the building fabric. The result is four double bedrooms, a formal drawing room, utility room, storage and three bathrooms, as well as zoned underfloor heating, a Lutron lighting system and surround sound built into the walls and ceiling of two of the rooms. There’s also a vaulted entertaining space on the top floor with a double height ceiling showcasing the original wooden beams, a luxury Alea kitchen and private terrace.
Davidson has watched the area around the property come alive in the time he has owned the house: ‘I was the development surveyor for the first phase of Hays Wharf in the early seventies – Hibernia Chambers next to London Bridge – and it has been a long wait for the rest of the area to benefit from some long-sighted policies from both developers and luminaries like Sam Wanamaker with the new Globe.’
In an area typically dominated by modern apartments, the house offers the rare find of historic grandeur surrounded by luxurious amenities, as well as a rich history would certainly be a talking point at parties…
Pepys House is on the market for £3.5m with Savills Wapping