Chelsea's symbol of Sixties jet-set put up for sale at pounds 1.8m

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The Independent Online
ANNE SPACKMAN

Commissioned by the Tennant family, designed by the architect of Annabel's and photographed for Vogue by Norman Parkinson, number 23 St Leonard's Terrace, Chelsea, could easily have challenged Centrepoint for listing as an architectural symbol of the Sixties. The building and the people who passed through it represented the Chelsea jet-set - as it was then called - in the way Bloomsbury stood for the Thirties.

The house is one of a row of listed Georgian terraces overlooking Sir Christopher Wren's Royal Hospital in west London. James Tennant needed the help of Sir Hugh Casson, then president of the Royal Academy, to negotiate planning permission for its redevelopment in 1969.

He commissioned the decorator John Fowler, of Colefax and Fowler fame, to pull out the interior and rebuild it as a contemporary home, and Fowler in turn brought in the distinguished architect Philip Jebb, who carried out work for the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and designed the Gorillarium at John Aspinall's Howletts Zoo. This was despite Jebb's reputation as a traditionalist and Fowler's name being inextricably linked with chintz.

The house was built on a 70ft steel frame with a central staircase of glass, marble, chrome and brass. A 20ft window forms part of the double cube glass dining room at the back. The handles on the glass doors in the 50ft marble hall are made from elephant tusks set in silver with inlaid lapis lazuli.

But the house is not a shrine to the Sixties. It features furniture by Le Corbusier as well as Anthony Redmile and one of its three gardens is in the 17th century Italianate style.

The house, which has five bedrooms and three bathrooms, is now being sold on behalf of Elizabeth Edwards, James Tennant's widow, by Knight Frank and Rutley, Russell Simpson and Berkeley International for pounds 1.8m.

It would make a suitable palace for a member of the rock royalty.

Homing device, Magazine

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