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Park to the majestic squares of Belgravia, stucco screams style and exclusivity. “If you want to live in prime central London, then you’re likely going to be looking at a stucco fronted property,” says Director of Dexters Mayfair Showroom, Russell Ball. Stucco’s origins, however, are rather more humble. Russell explains: “Stucco is a render made of lime and sand used to dress less attractive stonework. It gave buildings a smooth finish without the builder of the day having to buy expensive bricks or stone.”

FIRST FAÇADES Stucco started to appear in London around the later part of 18th century, and the Regency fashion for evenly covered house fronts lasted until the early Victorian period when tastes changed and the cost of stone fell. While stucco was used by London builders as a pocket-friendly alternative to stone, it wasn’t long before it was seen as a material with its own unique qualities, inspiring renowned architects to create some of the most attractive architecture in London. John Nash (1752-1835) was a favourite of the Prince Regent, George IV. Nash is responsible for the stucco terraces and villas of Regent’s Park, in addition to Regent Street and indeed, Buckingham Palace. His work and influence reach across the capital and beyond. MODERN MARKETS Dexters recently sold a property within a terrace on Great Russell Street that Nash designed and lived in. Today, you can see the English Heritage blue plaque on the building in the heart of Bloomsbury. Russell says of the sale: “As well as its architectural significance, this property has a wonderful view of the British Museum. In the end there was a bidding war which was won by an international cash buyer who wanted a base in London, paying over the asking price.” Many of the other most beautiful stucco properties in London are in Belgravia. Thomas Cubitt (1788-1855) was commissioned in 1824 by Richard Grosvenor, 2nd Marquess of Westminster, to create buildings on Belgrave Square. Cubitt is also partly responsible for the stucco of the much-desired Eaton Square (see Dexters selection of featured properties). All stucco fronted properties tend to have an enduring appeal which attracts buyers and tenants from home and abroad. However, both

Clockwise from top left: stucco frontage appears in the most exclusive areas of London; Ulster Terrace was built by Regency architect John Nash; Nash’s blue plaque in Bloomsbury


homeowners and landlords should be prepared to take extra care. It’s important to keep gutters clear and avoid anything else that risks excessive water soaking in. Russell explains: “Stucco fronts generally comprise of three layers: the undercoat, the floating coat and the finish coat. Once water gets behind these layers they can literally start to fall off. These properties tend to be listed, so if there is damage, you’ll need to hire specialist builders approved by the local authority.” But, for a great many architecture aficionados and lovers of prime London homes alike, the additional attention is well worth it. As Russell says: “There’s nothing quite like a freshly painted stucco fronted home, gleaming in the morning light. These properties will look good for years and years to come.”

Dexters Magazine Winter 2017  
Dexters Magazine Winter 2017