This period townhome, on elegant Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, combines antique charm with contemporary cool. It belongs to Sol Campbell, a soccer star, who’s played for England as well as for Arsenal and Tottenham, and interior designer Fiona Barratt-Campbell. It’s listed with Savills at £23.75 million, about $33 million in US dollars.
Campbell has had a long and storied career in English football. In 1999, he captained the team that won the 1999 Football League Cup Final. He also won two FA Cups, and captained the English national team in six consecutive tournaments, including the European Championships and the World Cup. Now retired, Campbell is considering a political career.
In 2004, Campbell purchased this house on Cheyne Walk. The street, which runs parallel to the river Thames, has long been considered one of the most sought-after addresses in London. It has been home to artists — Dante Rossetti, who was banned from keeping peacocks in his garden because of the noise, Algernon Swinburne, J.M.W. Turner, James Whistler, Gerald Scarfe — and actors, among them Laurence Olivier and Elizabeth Taylor. In the 60s, Rolling Stones Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Ron Wood all called the street home, and writers such as Henry James, T.S. Eliot, Somerset Maugham, and Bram Stoker, all lived here. Charles Dickens wrote in 1879, “Cheyne Walk is a bit of old London, with its quaint old fashioned houses and its row of noble trees.”
The spacious house measures nearly 7,300 square feet arranged over five floors — an elevator serves all levels, and is connected to a mews house out back via a subterranean passageway. A mews is like an alley that runs behind grand mansions. Mews buildings originally stabled horses for the family, with rooms for servants above. They’re analogous to a carriage or coach house.
Interiors are coolly monochromatic, which is not surprising considering Barratt-Campbell trained with the queen of taupe, Kelly Hoppen. The style is sumptuous and modern, in keeping with the period charm of the house, and textures — suede, linen, glass, metal — substitute for color. The second floor of the house comprises a trio of reception rooms, which make the most of the stunning views across the Thames and to the Albert Bridge. Upstairs are six bedrooms and five bathrooms.
On the first floor is the kitchen-diner, and, as is very popular in London, the living space has been extended into the garden with bi-fold doors. The kitchen is by Italian maker Boffi. The 55-foot-long walled garden is contemporary in style and includes a sitting area, outdoor fireplace and long stretch of evergreen fake grass for a kickabout with the kids. Entirely self-catering, with a kitchen, sitting room, and two bedrooms, the two-story mews house is a contemporary bookend to the main house.
While Barratt-Campbell did an impressive job updating this place, new owners should take note that this house is grade II listed. In England, a register is kept of structures of national importance. Buildings listed on the register are legally protected from being demolished, extended or significantly altered without permission from the local planning board. Grade II is the most common listing, meaning the building is considered “of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve it.” More extensive renovation likely would not be permitted.
The Campbells, who bought the property in 2004 for $7.37 million, used to own Hallington Hall, a Georgian mansion in the north of England, set on 62 acres. They sold it at a substantial loss in 2019 for $6.05 million. The family won’t be homeless, though, as they own a flat in Carlyle Mansions, a 19th century apartment house also on Cheyne Walk, that has been home to many theatrical and literary luminaries; the Campbell’s flat used to be owned by James Bond creator Ian Fleming.