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Code-Name: Luxury

15.10.21

Around the corner from Baker Street Station, on a quiet road in Marylebone lies a set of apartments that once held a secret wartime intelligence base. Formed in 1940, the Special Operations Executive worked out of Bickenhall Mansions and came to be known as ‘Britain’s Underground Army’. They were a collection of spies dedicated to infiltrating and sabotaging Nazi plots and were famously ordered by Prime Minister Winston Churchill to ‘set Europe ablaze!’

The Victorian red-brick mansion block was built in 1869 by W.H. Scrymgeour and has gothic revival features, blue iron railings and Juliet balconies over several levels. The building became home to the British intelligence services in 1943 after the SOE expanded from their original headquarters at 64 Baker Street.

Given the dangerous and secret nature of the group’s work, few people knew of their existence during the war. Spies who were part of it would refer to themselves as the ‘Baker Street irregulars’, after their London headquarters, while others nicknamed themselves ‘Churchill’s Private Army.’

At Bickenhall Mansions, operatives were trained in guerilla warfare and used radio transmitters to communicate with resistance groups across Europe. They helped coordinate strikes against the Axis powers and aimed to disrupt the Nazi supply lines by blowing up trains, factories and bridges.

Although Bickenhall Gardens is no longer stocked with morse code machines, radios and homing equipment, it looks almost exactly the same as it did in the 1940s. Inside though, its interiors have undergone a drastic transformation. Today, the building has been renovated into a series of luxury apartments with uniformed security and a passenger lift.

One spacious flat on the fourth floor is currently on the market Dexters for £3,000,000. Designed by award-winning architects Sonnemann Toon, the property provides two double bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms with underfloor heating.

Entry to the property is through a lobby with a crittall style door that leads into the dining room featuring art-deco style lighting. The reception room has herringbone wood floors and a large south-facing bay window, while the kitchen opens up onto a private balcony that would be perfect for entertaining.

The apartment is  ideally located moments away from the Marylebone High Street and Paddington Station with direct links to London Heathrow that is just a short cab ride away. Regents Park is close by, as are several of London’s best shopping districts including Oxford Street and Bond Street.

James Staite, Director of Dexters Marylebone says, ‘this property is so unique because you’re not just buying a beautiful, interior designed flat in one of London’s most exclusive destinations. You’re also buying a piece of history. Bickenhall Mansions' hidden role as a World War II spy base adds the excitement and glamour of the secret services, gadgets and spies.’

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