Tim Koch writes:
I occasionally come across a really nice piece of rowing memorabilia that I would very much like to own but cannot justify paying the price asked. Recently just such a situation occurred but this time the sum that I was unwilling (or rather unable) to pay was a little higher than usual – £8.5 million ($12.8 million) to be precise.
Following my recent piece on four generations of the Beresfords, I determined to do something that I had been meaning to do for a long time, that is visit the house where Jack Beresford Junior grew up to see the British Heritage Blue Plaque affixed to the outside. These plaques are installed in public places to commemorate a link between that location and a famous person or event. The wikipedia page for the Blue Plaque Scheme says this about it:
The original blue plaque scheme was established by the Royal Society of Arts in 1867 and since 1986 has been run by English Heritage …. There are currently some 880 plaques in London; historically there were more, but about 100 have been removed or destroyed because of demolition over the years. English Heritage plans to erect an average of twelve new blue plaques each year in London.
Jack Beresford spent the first forty years of his life in the prosperous and desirable (then and now) West London suburb of Chiswick. He was born in 1899 at 36 St Mary’s Grove but in 1903 his father, Berry, and his mother, Ethel, moved the family a few streets to Belfairs, 19 Grove Park Gardens. Greg Denieffe has previously written about Jack’s early life. He says of Belfairs:
(Jack) lived there throughout his youth, during his time as a border at Bedford School, and throughout his glittering rowing career and up to his marriage in 1940. According to (local historian) Gillian Clegg…….. the house, the largest in Grove Park, was built in 1898 with its own coach house and rooms above.
Jack’s son, Berry’s grandson, John, unveiled the plaque at an event hosted by Thames Rowing Club on 16 August 2005. It is the only ‘official’ Blue Plaque to an oarsman.
On visiting Belfairs, I found not only the plaque but also a ‘house for sale sign’. The estate agent’s website gave the asking price as the aforementioned £8.5 million.
Anyone who lives in London will not be too shocked by this, the capital’s property prices have been ludicrous for many years and show no signs of changing. Many Londoners have found that the annual increase in the value of their property is more than their yearly income – i.e. their house earns more than they do. The estate agent describes what you get for your millions:
The property boasts ten bedrooms, five reception rooms, off street parking for multiple cars, staff accommodation, a passenger lift, a pool complex and integral garage….. The rear garden is approximately 109 x 107 foot and incorporates an outside kitchen, seating area and pizza oven……. There are two kitchens, a utility room, family and guest bedrooms and bathrooms, and ample storage…..
I am sure that most of these facilities did not exist when Berry was the owner and I am certain that he did not decorate it in its present ‘French bordello’ style. Perhaps I am just jealous – it would make a very good HTBS London headquarters.