Kosovo’s London embassy is to move to a Hyde Park mansion once owned by the comedian Spike Milligan.
9 Orme Court, a 5,697 sq ft townhouse situated in Bayswater, has been purchased by the embassy of Kosovo for £6.5 million in a deal negotiated by Mr Ilir Kapiti, the country’s ambassador. The embassy of Kosovo is currently located on John Street in Clerkenwell.
“Soon in the new and permanent home of the Republic of Kosovo — in the United Kingdom,” wrote Kapiti on his Facebook page.
“As always, our doors will be open to the emigration that has always contributed and continues to contribute to Kosovo. Relations with the UK will be strengthened further - congratulations Kosovo!”
The Arts and Crafts-inspired building, which dates from the 1890s, was owned by Milligan and his collaborator Eric Sykes between 1962 and 1979.
As well as living in the property, they used it as the headquarters of Associated London Scripts (ALS), a writers’ co-operative founded with fellow television and radio heroes Ray Galton and Alan Simpson.
They opened the building up to other industry talents, including Peter Sellers, Terry Nation and Dennis Spooner, offering rooms in exchange for low rent.
9 Orme Court saw The Goon Show, Hancock’s Half Hour, Dr Who and the Daleks, Genesis of the Daleks, Steptoe and Son, Thunderbirds and Stingray all produced within its walls.
Today, the building has two Blue Plaques to celebrate Milligan and Sykes’ lives at the property, installed in 2003 and 2013 respectively.
Arranged across six floors, the building had been used as office space before the sale, and was advertised by listing agents Beauchamp Estates as “a rare opportunity to purchase a freehold building in one of Bayswater’s most prestigious addresses.” It was listed for sale in June last year.
With a private courtyard and balcony, the ground and first floors have a series of large rooms, with high ceilings and tall windows which provide useful spaces for diplomatic meetings and receptions. Upstairs, where Milligan lived, there is space for private accommodation and offices for embassy staff.
“This grand townhouse has the benefit of a long history of being used as both offices and living accommodation making a transformation into an embassy a logical step,” says Gary Hersham, who negotiated the purchase for Beauchamp Estates.
“The spacious interiors and prime location, on the doorstep of Hyde Park and just a short drive to Buckingham Place, makes it a perfect venue for a diplomatic mission.”
Bayswater is a popular location for embassies, with Gambia, Guyana, Laos and Sri Lanka’s embassies all in the area.
There are 163 embassies and other diplomatic buildings in central London, with the most popular locations being close to Buckingham Palace, 10 Downing Street and Hyde Park. Kensington has 37 embassies, followed by Belgravia and Marylebone, both with 23. Westminster has 18 embassies and Mayfair has 15.
The Kosovan Embassy has been expected to relocate from Bloomsbury for some time. With property prices in super-prime areas of London at an all-time high, governments have been cashing in on their lucrative assets for much of the past decade.
Starting the trend in 2009, the US sold their embassy in Grosvenor Square to the property development arm of the Qatari royal family for an estimated £500 million. It is now being turned into a luxury hotel and top-end residences, where one apartment sold for £111 million in 2020, according to Land Registry records. The US embassy, meanwhile, moved to Nine Elms.
In 2013, a number of other governments followed suit, with more than 20 diplomatic missions and residences earmarked for sale.
That year, the European Council of Foreign Relations near St James’s Park was sold to the developer Galliard Homes for £21.5 million, the Kazakh embassy in South Kensington sold for £8.6 million and the Brazilian embassy on Green Street for £40 million.
The long-vacant Algerian embassy at 54 Holland Park has been on the market since 2020, when its price tag was an estimated £25 million.