Property: Neo Abyssinia in mock Tudor land

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The Independent Online
AVALON may mean to you a Roxy Music song, but in 1936 it was the Paternoster Square of its day. It was the creation of Frances Stevenson, Lloyd George's mistress and later wife, who wanted to build an uncompromisingly modern house on his estate at Churt in Surrey.

Lloyd George himself, who gave her pounds 2,000 to build Avalon, described the house as 'neo- Abyssinian'. The local council's attitude is recorded in the diaries of Countess Lloyd George, as she became.

'We had some difficulty in persuading the local authorities to pass the plan, as with its Continental air, its flat roof, white walls and large expanse of glass, it was not at all what a conventional council would approve of. 'Would not a house of mock-Tudor style be more traditional and in keeping with the landscape?', the puzzled council enquired.'

But the countess and her architect stuck to their guns. The end result was a house plus staff cottage and swimming pool in 27 acres of lawns, terraces, orchards and meadows.

Avalon is now for sale for only the second time, having been bought from the countess by an American family in 1963. They have planted 2,500 new trees in a wild flower meadow.

Inside, the house has a master bedroom suite with sitting-room, three further bedrooms, two reception rooms and a detached billiards room. John D Wood (0252 737115) is looking for offers in excess of pounds 650,000.

IF YOU prefer your luxury in a more conventional style, Finlayson Hughes (0463 224343) is looking for a tenant for Gordon Castle, an 11- bedroom stone mansion between Aberdeen and Inverness. Though the roof is turreted, the property itself is much simpler than the typical Scottish castle and more like a grand country house.

The huge rooms include two octagonal halls and a library, as well as a drawing-room, dining-room and sitting-room. In the gardens there is an orangery and tennis court. The agents are seeking a rent of about pounds 12,000 a year for a lease of one to five years.

WITH THE Japanese colonising Ealing and Finchley, and the Americans in St John's Wood, we now have the Russians in Hampstead Garden Suburb. Glentree Estates, which dominates the market in pounds 1m homes around The Bishop's Avenue, has seen 12 Russian buyers in the past few months.

According to Daniel Broch, the director of Glentree Estates, they are paying with cash. One Russian company is looking to buy five houses. 'We have been amazed at the amount of ready cash the Russians have,' he said. No one is asking where it came from.

Mr Broch said the Russians he had dealt with were very straightforward. 'They don't try to be too clever,' he said. 'They pay a good price for a good house.'

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