Friday, August 20, 2010

D.V., 17 HANOVER TERRACE...


Yesterday afternoon I was in Marylebone and had a bit of time to kill. It was the perfect opportunity to walk through Regent's Park and after all this time, have a look at the house Diana Vreeland lived in between 1929 and 1937.


The only people I saw in Hanover Terrace were workmen and chauffeurs, who were milling around outside some of the other houses. I got a few looks as there's no reason to walk up the terrace unless you live there or are visiting someone. Luckily they were all at the other end of the terrace, which is made up of 20 houses facing the park. I counted at least three blue plaques on houses marking notable people who had lived there: H.G. Wells was one, but there was no plaque to be seen on D.V.'s house. Maybe I should start a campaign to get her one. It would have to be red though, and that probably wouldn't fly with English Heritage.


The house and the whole terrace looked unoccupied as those extremely wealthy areas of London often do - I'm sure the owners are off on their superyachts somewhere or at one of their other properties. When I got to number 17 I stood and stared for a while, imagining how it was when D.V. lived there. (I didn't have my camera, so had to Hipstamatic it for posterity.)

D.V. and her husband left England in 1937 but there is a story in her memoirs about revisiting the house late at night in 1978 with Jack Nicholson and David Bailey, as you do. She talks about the house in detail, but it's too long to post here, and of course I only saw the outside. All the houses in the terrace are identical but when she lived there she put a topiary bear on either side of the front door. The front door was "pickled, every surface removed and then polished." The little hand door knocker she bought from someone whose door it was on in St. Malo. Orange trees were at the windows, which overlook the park and the ducks, and they would hear the lions roar in the zoo at night...

{Update: I went ahead and proposed a blue plaque for D.V. to English Heritage!}

9 comments:

Bombay Beauty said...

It is a lovely spot, right near where I used to go for my occasional runs. But indeed never saw any residents - you've located the real ones - memories. xo BB

Claire * Lola Is Beauty said...

I hope those runs were very occasional! It's funny that people don't seem to live in those places, you only ever see a little man come out of a gate and pick up a fallen leaf that was spoiling the otherwise pristine front steps, or someone in overalls painting out a smudge on the masonry...x

If Jane said...

oh good on you claire that you proposed to the english heritage a blue plaque! (oh i a have a slight attachment to DV especially since her husband's mistress was from montréal!)

Claire * Lola Is Beauty said...

Yeah, the one who she said the famous line to: "You are young and beautiful etc etc..." I think he had a lot of mistresses - he was pretty hot!

Madelene said...

I've been to her house two times, admiring it or something similar..

Sarah said...

Great idea on proposing the blue plaque - maybe a 'Diana Vreeland Plaque' group should be set up on facebook? I know I'd join...

Claire * Lola Is Beauty said...

Sarah - I haven't heard back yet, but she has only fit one of the the criteria for the last year (must be deceased for at least 20 years) so it's possible it's in the works already. I think they'll agree, but if not facebook group pressure is a good idea!

MOJJ said...

I happen to live here - we had no idea that Diana Vreeland lived in the house! We knew about Wilkie Collins and Edmund Gosse, and tried to propose a plaque for the former but English Heritage were not so interested as he has one or two already. The Diana Vreeland one could be something to follow up! Did EH get back in touch?

lola is beauty said...

MOJJ - Yes they did eventually, but they rejected it - saying that as she only lived in London for 4 years it wasn't long enough. However, in her book she says she lived in London, in that house, for twelve years. I didn't follow up again because I couldn't find another source to prove she was there for the longer period, and who knows if it would have made a difference. Anyway her memoir D.V. talks about the house in detail in the first couple of chapters. How amazing to live there!