The Resident explores the former Belgravia home of London’s 19th century master builder, Thomas Cubitt. Cubitt laid down the famous Pimlico Grid (now protected as the Pimlico Conservation Area) and was also responsible for the east front of Buckingham Palace. The property, where past and present meet in natural light, soft neutrals and open space, is currently up for sale
WORDS Mark Kebble
The name Cubitt Lodge may point to an interesting past, but it barely scratches the surface of the Belgravia property purchased by Talal Chamsi-Pasha back in 2012. ‘A friend of a friend has been living there for 30 years,’ he recounts. ‘It was dated and hugely underrated in terms of potential, so we made him an offer. We then decided to hire a historian to look into the history of the property further, who revealed what a gem it was.’
Gem may well be an understatement. The property is part of the former building that was used by Belgravia’s master builder Thomas Cubitt as his company headquarters and workshops. His importance to the area is unrivalled: in 1824 the Marquess of Westminster commissioned Cubitt to create the first housing on an expanse of fields in what would become known as Belgravia. It took 30 years to complete, with Lyall Street being among the last laid out, connecting Westminster and Chelsea, with numbers 3-4 serving as Cubitt’s last HQ during the completion of the Belgravia estate. During the 20th century 3-4 Lyall Street and the adjoining mews were used purely for domestic purposes, and in 1970 Cubitt Lodge was created as a single mews house separate from 4 Lyall Street.
‘It had a 1970s feel to it and needed a major overhaul,’ Chamsi-Pasha brings us up to speed. ‘We inserted structural beams to get what we wanted, but treaded very carefully due to the history and Grade listing. We took out various plinths and columns and opened the space up. We removed the floor next to the windows to give a luxury loft feel whereby it was more open plan.’
A contemporary feel is certainly prevalent, but the distinguished history hasn’t been swallowed up. ‘The bricks actually have a “C” in the middle,’ Chamsi-Pasha reveals, ‘so Cubitt made his own bricks back in the day. We preserved the outer façade to keep the essence alive. The existing colour palette was hideous and tasteless, so we brought it back to how it would have been 120 years ago. Neutral, classical yet modern in certain touches. You feel it as soon as you walk in.’
You feel it and certainly see it with the amount of natural light that floods in. ‘Light was always great in the house due to the unusually large windows, so the glass we introduced was more a modern feature of sleekness,’ Chamsi-Pasha explains. ‘We could have added glass to the stairs going up too, but we decided to keep a mix. The rear windows were opened to give more light from the back [of the property].’
There is a real welcoming feel to Cubitt Lodge, and certain design touches have ensured the home is open to all. ‘When it came to accessorising the property we wanted it to be inviting and practical above everything,’ Chamsi-Pasha says, ‘yet we wanted to stay true to the history. We expended a lot of effort on the stove and floors downstairs, for example, as that was truly nostalgic. The kitchen is very much a family area. Considering you are in the basement, you don’t feel at all claustrophobic, again with the use of colours, lighting and the glass steps that, to a degree, permit more light in, but only variably.
‘It’s a house that grows on you as the adventure unfolds from first walking into a great living room’
The reception area is spacious and feels large and unobstructive,’ we move on. ‘It’s geared at entertaining and has a little pensive area next to the window with the glass floor. That is a perfect area to sit by the window, with light protruding whilst reading a great book. The lighting at the last arch is where that area has been specifically dimmed to allow the fire and TVs to work at optimum levels. Then with the bedrooms, you will see they are clean, fresh and light with modern day trappings and plenty of storage.’
In total, Cubitt Lodge’s accommodation spreads over three floors, with a large reception room, master bedroom suite, guest bedroom suite, kitchen/dining room, study, sitting room/third bedroom and a rather fabulous steam room. All wrapped up, it has quite a story to tell, as Chamsi-Pasha perfectly sums up: ‘It’s a house that grows on you as the adventure unfolds from first walking into a great living room, to ascending to the comfortable bedrooms with silk carpets, to the real piece de resistance in the basement.’ Thomas Cubitt would have been impressed.
Cubitt Lodge, SW1, is currently on the market with a guide price of £6.05m. For more information, contact joint agents Savills Knightsbridge (020 7581 5234) and Knight Frank Belgravia (020 7881 7722)