William Hanham's Last Albany Apartment at Piccadilly, London

House Call

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Name: Ali & William Hanham
Location: Albany, London, England
Size: Two bedrooms, one bath
Years lived in: Since 1811

During my visit to England this past month, I visited William and Ali's amazing ancestral home in Wimborne and then took a peek at William's elegant and modest London apartment at Albany. Across the street from Fortnum & Mason, Albany was originally built in 1770-74 for Viscount Melbourne, converted in 1802 into 69 "bachelor" apartments by William Hanham's family, and since have become known as the most prestigious bachelor pads in London. This is the last flat still owned by the family.

Bachelor pad? Why yes. In the good old days, aristocratic bachelors would have need of a place to stay in London for regular visits. Not wanting a whole house, a small bachelor apartment next to other aristocratic men where they has a servant in residence was the perfect solution. Albany allowed only men within its walls until recently, and still children under the age of 14 are not allowed to stay here.

"The residents have included such famous names as the poet Lord Byron and the future Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, and numerous members of the aristocracy. Nonetheless, occupants have been known to complain that the accommodation is often rather cramped." (Wikipedia)

As you walk off of Piccadilly you enter the front of Albany (the original house) and then pass through the back into the string of apartments that it now supports.

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This is the walkway that runs down the inside of the complex with entrances to the apartments on either side.

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The entrances are all delightfully stripped down and understated as befits bachelor pads dating back to the 19th century.

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As you walk in, the bottom floor opens out to a large dining and living room area with a smaller sitting room along the side. A kitchen was added later on this floor, moved down from the upstairs where the man's servant would live and cook for him.

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Ali Hanham has restored, fixed and redecorated over the past five years with pieces from their country house. All the paint in this apartment has been redone in the past few years with Farrow & Ball colors, which give it the deeply hued and elegant historical appearance.

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The sitting room lies at the end of the hall as you enter. This smaller room used to be the main bedroom in the small apartment.

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Here's a little peek into the small kitchen on the bottom floor, which appears to your right as you enter the apartment.

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Upstairs is a very short trip, and there are two smallish rooms with a bathroom (that used to be the kitchen) up there. This would have been the servants quarters.

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Recently wallpapered and in the process of being fixed up for the family's short stays in the city, this is now the master bedroom, while the children's room is next door.

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As you look out the window back down into the central courtyard you can see the lovely walkway roof, the other apartments and the renovation construction currently in progress.

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