Hayden Hall House has a fascinating history, besides its links to two screen legends and knights of the realm
Sir Richard and Sir David Attenborough’s childhood home – well, part of it – has gone on the market. The three-bedroom property within Haydon Hill House, Bushey, was once home to two of the most famous brothers in showbiz. But that’s only a part of the story of its illustrious past.
The Grade II-listed property was commissioned in the 1830s by author and artist Thomas Fonnereau, who had spent time in Italy and requested that it be built the style of a Tuscan villa. His architect, Decimus Burton, was one of the most celebrated of the 19th Century, and the man behind Wellington Arch at London Zoo, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and much of Hyde Park, including the gate and screen at Hyde Park Corner.
Construction began in 1841 on the former site of Cottage Orme, which itself was the former home of Dr. Thomas Monro, George III’s physician. Monroe was a huge patron of the arts and not too shabby a painter himself. He even founded a watercolour school, where none other than J.M.W. Turner was a student.
Haydon Hill House was purchased by the Attenborough family in the 1870s. They remained there in the 1920s and 1930s, when David and Richard were children. During the war, the house was commandeered by the RAF. Together with nearby RAF Bentley Priory, it was used as mapping centre during the Battle of Britain.
Post-war, the house was converted into a retirement home by Harrow council. Then, in the late 1980s, it was sold and converted into a series of spacious luxury apartments.
This particular three-bed property is arranged over three floors, with its own entrance hall at ground level.
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On the first floor you’ll find a large sitting room with dual aspect of the gardens from tall sash windows. The original marble fireplace and a chandelier enhance this already grand reception room.
There’s also a kitchen/breakfast room, a cloakroom, and a master bedroom with en suite and mezzanine.
Climb a further flight of stars and you’ll reach two guest bedrooms and a third bathroom.
The neat communal gardens – set in 3.5 acres – are a far cry from the jungles of Africa, where David famously got up close and personal with rare mountain gorillas. We wonder if Sir Richard ever pretended he was being chased by dinosaurs, Jurassic Park style, as he played on these lawns?!
While you probably won’t see a giant ape or T Rex, you might spot horses and other animals grazing the council-owned land beyond. The area is named Attenborough Fields in honour of its former neighbours.
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London commuters will love the mansion’s location. There’s easy access to the M1 and M25 motorways and it’s only 0.7 miles from Bushey station, with direct trains to London Euston. It’s on the market with Savills for £875,000.
All images Savills.