An 18th-century villa fit for a marquess

The first of the few refurbished listed houses at Bentley Priory in Stanmore, from where the Battle of Britain was co-ordinated, have been unveiled.
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When Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding set up Fighter Command HQ at the start of the Second World War, he chose the 18th-century mansion in north-west London because of its elevated position offering sweeping views of the capital. From here in 1940, Fighter Command directed the efforts of the 3,000 pilots who fought and defeated the Luftwaffe.

The location is still strategic today, at least for commuters, with Stanmore being at the end of the Jubilee line and one of 20 "supersuburbs" ringing London, according to estate agent Savills. The mansion is a significant landmark of historic importance, with a celebrity visitors book ranging from Lord Nelson to Queen Victoria to General Eisenhower, while distinguished architect Sir John Soane was responsible for much of the design.

As well as converting the main house into grand flats, City & Country, a specialist heritage developer, has brought back to life a terrace of red-brick houses called Marquess Villas The three-bedroom homes have up to 2,110sq ft of space and terraces overlooking the 50-acre landscaped grounds. Prices from £1.3 million. Call 020 8950 5959. 

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