For ten years or more now Compton Avenue has been crime free. We went to find out why and see a house for sale on this quiet, understated London avenue - home once to both Lulu and Ringo Starr.
Stand at the front of Compton Lodge and the impression is that a West Sussex country home has been moved, brick-by-brick, to London’s northern suburbs.
Its steep tiled roof and overhanging eaves, when compared to the modernist villas or rococo palaces to be found around Hampstead Heath these days, mark this house as a rare example of modern traditionalism.
Despite being cutesy-pie on the outside, its interior is a different world. Compton Lodge’s owner, who runs a Mayfair-based hedge fund, bought it in 2000 and completed a radical remodelling. Only the outside walls are original because, he says, it was the only way to avoid a painful planning application.
The main allure of Compton Lodge despite its beauty is not its new insides or that it's an ideal family home in an area famous for show-mansions, is rather Compton Avenue, the eponymous road it’s on.
Liveried guards run a round-the-clock security gate at the entrance as well as half hourly patrols of the pavement making the road one of the - if not the - safest in the UK. Only Courtenay Avenue, also in north London and Kensington Palace Gardens (or ‘Embassy Row’) in central London are likely to be as safe, says its agent Glentree Estates.
The upshot of such tight security is that one's usual qualms about crime and traffic in London soon evaporate when you move in. Children play in the street unafraid of speeding cars and many of its homes’ back doors are left unlocked. Over the past decade the only crime has been an attempted but unsuccessful car theft, and owners get a part share in the company that runs security system with each property's title deeds.
Such a burglary-free track record would raise most Londoners' eyebrows and it is this that’s attracted several celebrities to Compton Avenue including singer Lulu and, most famously, Ringo Starr who owned the property at the end, closest to the Highgate Golf Club course. A sheikh also lived here until recently, often bringing over his dozen or more wives.
But at 8,000-9,000 square foot Compton Lodge is one of the smaller properties. The other 17 houses are said to reach up to 30,000sq feet but are suited to what is an demanding resident profile looking usually for opulence and space.
Buy Compton Lodge and neighbouring houses will be the London addresses of either a Nigerian or several Russians – one of which has bought two of the mansions at the end of the avenue and is in the process of building a super-mansion on the combined plot. The house is far too homely and practical for buyers of this type, the owner reckons because it was designed by him around his family including his three children.
At the bottom of the garden there’s a separate spa/gym and the ground floor holds three reception rooms, a swimming pool and large kitchen – plus garage. Upstairs there are four bedrooms – all en-suite and accessed via walk-in wardrobes. Upstairs there is a maid’s suite and a huge, award-winning cinema and games room.
So who will buy this home? The owner thinks it will be a growing family tiring of the traffic, tiny gardens, pollution and police sirens of Mayfair, Knightsbridge or St John's Wood and looking for a small piece of near-countryside not too far away. Watching the neighbour's children cycling off to mountain bike on Hampstead Heath, it's hard not to agree with him.
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Liveried guards run a round-the-clock security gate at the entrance