Hidden London

The Bishops Avenue

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Barnet

An ultra-exclusive street running from the northern tip of Hampstead Heath to East Finchley. Neighbouring Winnington Road is almost as well-heeled. Highgate golf course lies to the east and Hampstead Garden Suburb to the west. The name derives from the bishops of London, who owned a large hunting park in the area in the late Middle Ages. This is probably the most ‘desirable’ address outside central London, if you like ostentatious displays of wealth. One house, the Towers, sold for around 10 million in 1992 – a phenomenal price at that time. Its features include an island with palm trees in the middle of its indoor swimming pool. Another, the twelve-bedroom, eleven-bathroom Summer Palace, was built in 1991. It has a brass and crystal glass lift, a comprehensive leisure complex and a central atrium. It is presently owned by the steel baron Lakshmi Mittal but is not his main place of residence in London. Prices on the avenue have continued to spiral and Toprak Mansion was sold in January 2008 to the Kazakhstani billionairess Horelma Peramam for 50 million. The house had been nicknamed Top Whack Mansion but, according to the Times, it will now be known as Royal Mansion. The council has taken exception to some of the most vulgar monstrosities that have been put up here in the last decade or two, but realistically the avenue is beyond redemption and should be allowed to continue as an object of amazement and amusement. However, London’s billionaires mostly prefer to live in Kensington or Belgravia, so some properties have lain empty in recent years and the latest trend is for their replacement by high-price, low-rise apartment blocks. The modest new house shown below is a recent exception to the trend.

New house on the Bishops Avenue

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Built by a Turkish business mogul, Toprak Mansion has been nicknamed Top Whack Mansion

The entertainer Gracie Fields used to live on the Bishops Avenue. ‘Why not talk about Bishops Avenue / I’ve got a lovely house on Bishops Avenue,’ sang Elton John in his 1988 parody of Give Peace a Chance.

Postal district: N2

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