An elegant pink coloured 4,876 sqft (453 sqm) Victorian eight-bedroom family house on Albert Terrace, which fronts directly onto London’s Primrose Hill, which helped to inspire Dodie Smith’s ‘101 Dalmatians’ story that became a famous Disney classic, is being offered for sale by sole agent Beauchamp Estates.
Written in 1956 by author Dorothy “Dodie” Smith (1896-1990), ‘101 Dalmatians’ is the story (animated in 1961 by Disney into a film), of dalmatians Pongo and Perdita/Misses who live with their owners Roger and Anita and Nanny Cook in a “modest but pretty” Victorian house by the Outer Circle in Regent’s Park.
Alongside walks on adjacent Primrose Hill and adventures in the ponds of Regent’s Park, the dalmatians battle with the evil Cruella de Vil, who wants to turn them into a fur coat. Cruella lived in Hell Hall in Suffolk; the de Vil ancestral mansion based on real life Greys Hall near Finchingfield where Dodie Smith lived in her early years.
Regent’s Park, Primrose Hill and its adjacent houses and urban village helped to inspire Dodie Smith to write ‘101 Dalmatians’. Dodie Smith lived in nearby Dorset Square with her nine Dalmatians including one named Pongo.
Dodie took her dalmatians for daily walks around Primrose Hill and Regent’s Park and got the idea for the story during a dinner party at a friend’s house in Primrose Hill when one of the guests observed Dodie’s dalmatians would “make a lovely fur coat.”
The first edition 1956 book has a pink cover with illustrations by Janet and Anne Johnstone showing a semi-detached house with pillared entrance portico and glass panelled front door with a classic drawing room, entrance hallway and Roger’s study. Disney storyboarder Bill Peet later used the book as inspiration for the original concepts for the Disney animation which Dodie Smith said captured the illustrations of the original book.
This is where the history and the details of the Victorian house on Albert Terrace step neatly into the tale. The four-storey semi-detached house has a pretty pink façade with white stone detailing and sash windows, complete with a rooftop terrace overlooking Primrose Hill and pillared entrance portico with glass panelled front door.
The Albert Terrace house was built in 1847 under the auspices of historic landowner Charles Fitzroy, 3rd Baron Southampton (1804-1872), based on house styles devised by Fitzroy Estate architect James Adam. The original owners (between 1847-1860) were Peter and Emma Graham, the wealthy founders of renowned Victorian cabinet and joinery firm Jackson & Graham which provided cabinets and other luxury items to HM Queen Victoria and Emperor Napoleon III.
For the British and French Royal families Jackson & Graham made writing desks, cabinets, rocking horses, Royal dog kennels and horse boxes and even a Royal bathing carriage/machine for Osborne House.
During the early Edwardian era (between 1898-1910) the house was owned by Harry Newson, a barrister and financial wizard who worked in the City of London and specialised in shipping and marine finance and insurance. Harry lived at Albert Terrace with his wife Elizabeth, dogs and four servants, comprising two nannies, a cook and butler. Between 1910 and the late 1920s the house was owned by steel industrialist Charles Ash.
In the early 1950s when Dodie Smith was writing ‘101 Dalmatians’ she carefully researched the history of Primrose Hill. Her story talks about Roger being a “financial wizard”, granted a lifelong tax exemption for his work in the City of London, it also highlights two nannies, Nanny Cook and Nanny Butler, who fed and cleaned up after the dalmatians, with the Johnstone illustrations showing the dalmatians playing with beautifully crafted wooden prams and dog kennels.
Now the Primrose Hill house that helped to inspire a story is for sale. Complete with front and rear gardens, the property provides accommodation over lower ground, raised ground and two upper floors, with the higher levels offering sweeping panoramic views over Primrose Hill which Pungo and Perdita so enjoyed walking up.
The glass panelled entrance portico door leads into the hall. Just like the Disney classic it is here you can imagine Nanny Cook opening the front door to the evil fur-and-smoke enveloped Cruella de Vil. The entrance hall gives access to three ground floor rooms (reception and two bedrooms) and a kitchenette.
In the ground floor drawing room you can imagine Pungo and Perdita curled up in cosy dog baskets as Roger sings to Anita about the evil Cruella de Vil – captured so beautifully by Disney in the globally-adored movie.
On the first floor there is the main reception room interconnecting with the dining room and open plan family kitchen. Here Pungo and Perdita would have stood at the windows overlooking Primrose Hill wagging their tails and wanting a walk, whilst Cruella stalked the rooms impatiently interrogated Anita about when she could purchase more dalmatian puppies.
On the second floor is a bedroom suite with ensuite bathroom and a study. In the Disney classic this is Roger’s study where he plays the piano, trumpet and trombone singing about Cruella de Vil.
On the top floor there are two further bedrooms (one with ensuite) and a rooftop terrace. On this terrace Pungo and Perdita would snuggle up romantically under the moonlight and stars looking down onto their beloved Primrose Hill park.
On the lower ground floor are three bedrooms, a kitchenette and cloakroom. In the Smith and Disney classic this floor would have been the domain of Nanny Cook and Nanny Butler, just as it was used by the real life nannies and domestic staff of the Graham and Newson families during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Now the bedrooms provide ample accommodation for a large family or for contemporary domestic staff.
Jeremy Gee, Managing Director of Beauchamp Estates said, “Regent’s Park, Primrose Hill and its surrounding houses helped to inspire Dodie Smith and Disney in the world renowned ‘101 Dalmatians’ classic which has been loved by children and their parents down the generations. Beauchamp Estates is therefore honoured and delighted to be instructed to sell one of the classic Victorian houses, directly fronting onto Primrose Hill park, which helped to inspire this magical story.”
Rosy Khalastchy, Associate Director at Beauchamp Estates said, “This large and spacious Primrose Hill house provides ample accommodation for a large family and the upper floors provide panoramic views over adjacent Primrose Hill park. This is a rare and outstanding opportunity to buy into the magic that is Primrose Hill.”