Charlton Place EXT ANGLE

Take 5… Homes connected to notable women

Charlton Place EXT ANGLE

International Women’s Day has been celebrated for over 100 years as a movement which strives for greater gender equality. The first gathering, in 1911, saw women and men come together to campaign for women’s rights to vote, work and hold public office. Since then, the day has been celebrated across the globe – each year with a different theme and initiatives to strive for greater change. This year, the focus is on inspiring inclusivity.

As we look back to the history of the celebrations of this day, we’ve gone back to the archives of properties we’ve sold over the years, as well as those we are currently selling, which have connections to notable women.

Jane Austen:

It is perhaps difficult to look back in history at the most beloved English authors and not think of Jane Austen.

She helped to shape the literary sphere we know today and, through the generations, we have never lost the love affair with her writing. Her novels cover the lives of the English gentry – which often explored women’s social standings, marriage and economic security - and she made us fall in love with the country houses that provided such charming backdrops.

 Austen never included detailed descriptions of the properties she included – rather using them to demonstrate symbols of status and allow the readers imagination to build their walls. Because of this, we are not always fortunate to see the homes that gave her inspiration. At least not until Charlton Park came to the market via our Canterbury office. In the 1700s, Austen was a frequent visitor to the property and it is said that here she got the idea for one of her most famous books, Pride and Prejudice.

Nancy Mitford:

Another female novelist that told tales of life in the upper class was Nancy Mitford.

The first-born of the iconic Mitford sisters, Nancy wrote eight novels in her lifetime – including her most famous read, The Pursuit of Love. The book, published in 1945, is a tale of interwar aristocratic life that we still just can’t get enough of – in fact, we’ve just witnessed its third television adaptation.

If the book alone – which is based on her life – doesn’t give you a big enough insight, you can now buy the place she called home during the Second World War in Mayfair. 45 Curzon Street, which belonged to one of her close friends and was where Mitford resided during her time as part of the Auxiliary Fire Service. The Georgian townhouse has since been extensively rebuilt and renovated and now carefully blends modern finishes and period features.

Anne Boleyn:

Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.

Some of the famous courtships in history are attributed to Henry VIII and his six wives, but perhaps the one we remember most is Anne Bolelyn. She is undoubtedly the wife that has held the most attention – both then and now. Their courtship lasted several years while Henry was still married to Catherine of Aragon, with Anne’s sights set firmly on becoming Queen.

Yaldham Manor in Kent, which neighboured the Bolelyn’s estate, provided the settings for one of their early encounters. When the house was under the ownership of Reynold Pekcham, Elder of Yaldham, the pair danced in the Medieval Great Hall. Today, the Manor House, which was sold in 2017, is still set around that very hall – and her signature can still be seen on one of the windows underneath the Peckham’s family crest.

Emily Bronte:

The Bronte sisters, Emily, Charlotte and Anne, were writers that now take their rightful place amongst the ‘classics’, recognised for their exceptional literary talents.

But this wasn’t always the case. During the 19th century, the three sisters were navigating gender bias so initially published works under male pseudonyms. This meant they were not largely recognised for their novels during their time.

Emily, the middle sister, is now widely celebrated for her only novel, Wuthering Heights. This meant that when Ponden Hall came to the market back in 2020, it came as no surprise that its connections to this book attracted the attention of so many. It was here in the 19th century that Emily Bronte was a frequent visitor thanks to the property’s extensive library – and where she found inspiration for Thrushcross Grange.

Meredith Etherington-Smith:

It would be difficult to sum up Meredith Etherington-Smith in just a few words given her life achievements.

A journalist, editor and biographer across art and fashion covers a great proportion of her career. But, arguably, she is best known for her successful charity-fundraising sales at Christie’s, auctioning clothes owned by Diana, Princess of Wales, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor.

Meredith married Jeremy Pilcher, a merchant banker, in 1981 and they lived together Seymour Walk in Chelsea, throwing parties with an eclectic mix of journalists, artists and writers. In 2010, the house was too big for ‘Minky’ and ‘Pilch’ as they were affectionately known to each other, and they downsized to a three bedroom maisonette, which was recently sold through our Chelsea office. The couple kept entertaining at Finborough Road – swapping evening soirées to sophisticated lunches.

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