Winfield House

Winfield House

Winfield House 1936
General information
Architectural style Neo-Georgian
Location Regent's Park
London, England, United Kingdom
Coordinates 51°31′51″N 0°09′52″W / 51.5308°N 0.1644°W / 51.5308; -0.1644Coordinates: 51°31′51″N 0°09′52″W / 51.5308°N 0.1644°W / 51.5308; -0.1644
Current tenants United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom (since 1955)
Construction started 20th century
Completed 20th century
Owner United States government
Design and construction
Architect Leonard Rome Guthrie
Architecture firm Wimperis, Simpson and Guthrie

Winfield House is a mansion set in 12 acres (4.9 ha) of grounds in Regent's Park, the second largest private garden in central London, after that of Buckingham Palace. Since 1955, it has been the official residence of the United States Ambassador to the Court of St. James's. It is Grade II listed as an "exceptional ambassador's residence and as a notable Neo-Georgian town house containing numerous features of note."[1]

Property before Winfield House

The first house on the site was Hertford Villa, the largest of the eight originally built in the park as part of John Nash's development scheme. The actual house was designed by Decimus Burton for the notorious Regency rake, Francis Seymour-Conway, 3rd Marquess of Hertford, who used it for orgies.[2] Later the Georgian villa was known as St Dunstan's, because of the distinctive clock that hung in front of it, purchased by the art collecting Marquess when material from St Dunstan-in-the-West was auctioned off in 1829–30 prior to the church's demolition.[3]

Later occupants included newspaper proprietor Lord Rothermere and the American financier Otto Hermann Kahn. Kahn lent it during World War I to a new charity for blinded servicemen, which took the name of St Dunstan's.[4]

The villa was damaged by fire in 1936[2] and was subsequently purchased by the American heiress Barbara Hutton, who demolished it.

1930s to 1955

In 1936, Hutton had a mansion built in the Neo-Georgian style, designed by Leonard Rome Guthrie of the English architectural practice Wimperis, Simpson and Guthrie.[1] It was at first known by the name of its predecessor, but Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, head of the charity, approached Hutton, explaining that the similarity in the name and location of her house and his organisation (still with an office in Regent's Park) caused confusion, and asking that she give up the historical name.[5] She agreed to the request and chose a new name, derived from her grandfather Frank Winfield Woolworth, who had an estate, Winfield Hall, in Glen Cove, New York. (In 2012 the charity changed its name to Blind Veterans UK.)

Hutton's only child, Lance Reventlow, was born in Winfield House.

During World War II, the house was used by a Royal Air Force 906 barrage balloon unit and as an officer's club. It was visited during the war by film actor Cary Grant, who was married to the owner at the time. Between February 1951 and June 1952, it was the home of comedian and actor Arthur Askey.

After the war, Hutton sold the house to the American government for one dollar.[2] In the early 1950s, the building was used as the London officers' club for the U.S. Third Air Force.

Ambassador's official residence

After extensive alterations, Winfield House became the ambassador's official residence in 1955. The previous residence at 14 Prince's Gate having been deemed inadequately secure.

The first ambassador in residence was Winthrop Aldrich; others include Walter Annenberg, Anne Armstrong, and John Hay Whitney. The house has been visited by Queen Elizabeth II, several U.S. presidents and many distinguished guests.

The house is listed on the U.S. Secretary of State's Register of Culturally Significant Property, which denotes properties owned by the U.S. State Department with particular cultural or historical significance.

The interiors have undergone extensive alterations at several points, including 1969 by William Haines, decorator and former silent film star.[1]

Architectural features



See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 National Heritage List entry
  2. 1 2 3 Stourton. Page 153.
  3. Godwin, George; John Britton (1829). The Churches of London. London.
  4. My Story of St Dunstan's (1961) by Lord Fraser of Lonsdale
  5. p. 361 My Story of St Dunstan's (1961) by Lord Fraser of Lonsdale


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