Buckingham Palace aside, London’s biggest private home is Witanhurst House in Highgate, a Grade II-listed mansion currently undergoing a £50 million renovation of the most regal kind.
The identity of the Eastern European owners of the property, who paid a reported £50 million for it via an offshore company, Safran Holdings, in 2008, is a closely guarded secret. But a clue to their identity may be revealed in the pair of entwined C’s picked out within the elaborate cornicing.
New exclusive images are the first to show the plans for the 65-bedroom mansion’s opulent restored interior.
Visitors to Witanhurst will arrive at a grand entrance hall with a huge ceiling mural featuring a naked warrior on a chariot, surrounded by equally poorly clad attendants and a bevvy of naked maidens reclining on clouds.
The piece is modelled on a similar painting at Houghton Hall in Norfolk. A report by Adam Architects, one of Britian’s top conservationists, and a favourite firm of Prince Charles, says the new decor is designed to restore the “original impact” of the main ground floor entertaining rooms in a house that has had a history of lavish entertaining. The receiving room will be painted duck egg blue, with details picked out in gold leaf.
The dining room also has an astonishing gilded ceiling, and the walnut panelled ballroom has a blue and yellow baroque style ceiling mural.
A similar design, this time in pink and yellow, is planned for the billiard room - if Camden Council grants Listed Building Consent for the proposals which were lodged with its planning department earlier this month.
“The proposed works to improve the quality of the ceilings at Witanhurst are part of the comprehensive restoration of the Grade II-listed mansion,” said Holly Rhoades, of Planning Potential, who is acting for Safran Holdings.
"The ceilings were in a serious state of disrepair. They have now been restored by high quality craftsmen to add to the character and interest of this significant heritage building. The owners wish is to create new designs that reflect the original design ethos of the building as an awe inspiring suite of interiors in the Baroque manner. Highly appropriate for a house with a history of lavish entertaining,” says Rhoades.
Building work on Witanhurst, which is on Highgate West Hill, began well over a year ago and was due to be completed by this autumn. But London’s glitziest mansion remains, for now, shrouded in hoardings.