There is a house in Lord North St

Catherine Pepinster reveals an address with a chequered history

Forget the car with the personal number plate, the best address in town, or the Rolex watch. The new status symbol is a history of the street where you live - or, better still, your own house, and written by a Cambridge historian.

Baron Sheppard of Didgemere, better known in the business world as Allan Sheppard, former chief executive of the brewing giant GrandMet, has just commissioned a history of his London town house to document its occupants, their parties, guests and travails during the past 150 years.

The five-storey terraced house in Lord North Street, in Westminster's political heartland, is surrounded by houses with histories of intrigue and power-broking. Harold Wilson lived in the street; other current residents include Jonathan Aitken and the Tory chief whip Alastair Goodlad. Lord Sheppard's next-door neighbour is Eurosceptic MP Teresa Gorman.

The proposal that the Cambridge historian Bunny Smedley should write the history of Lord Sheppard's house was made after the completion of her history of Lord North Street itself, which will be launched at a party on Thursday night at the headquarters of the right-wing think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs (based at number 2).

But what will make the story of Lord Sheppard's home an even more gripping read is the combination of political history and showbiz anecdotes about the house. Past occupants include a former society hostess, the Marchioness of Ripon, who entertained the social circle of the Liberal Prime Minister Asquith, and the theatrical impresario Binkie Beaumont, whose soirees brought John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Katherine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, Noel Coward, Terence Rattigan, Cecil Beaton and Marilyn Monroe to the gas-lit street, winding between Smith Square and Millbank.

Census returns, electoral registers, letters and biographies have all helped Ms Smedley carry out her detective work on Lord North Street. Built in 1722, its Georgian houses are small - three or four bedrooms - with no gardens and little space for car parking. Such is the demand, however, that these days they change hands for about pounds 750,000.

Lord North Street's early history was not so salubrious. "Although these houses were built for professionals, they did go downhill from 1830 to the end of the century," said Ms Smedley. "There were sometimes 20 people living in one house, and rather a lot of actresses - the ones where you wonder about the term 'actress'."

If the street's early dramas featured members of the oldest profession, those of the second oldest have coloured its life for most of this century.

It was Harold Wilson who put the street on the map, when he moved there soon after losing the 1970 general election. On his return to power in 1974, his wife Mary refused to move back into Downing Street, and instead much of the premier's work was conducted in Lord North Street rather than at Number 10.

Ms Smedley is completing a PhD at Cambridge Unversity.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a number ...

Recruitment Genius: Facilities Coordinator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Facilities Coordinator is required to join a...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager - Software House - PRINCE2, PMP

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A dynamic, customer oriented Pr...

Recruitment Genius: Relationship Sales Advisor

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an inbound relationship...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate