The capital is awash with history. But London’s new crop of residential schemes hardly reflects this. Prime London developer Sons & Co.’s latest luxurious hidden gem in Holborn, Pinks Mews is among the notable exceptions
1st July 2017 was the 150th anniversary of Canada’s founding as an independent nation, known as Canada Day. The day was marked in Trafalgar Square with much fanfare – bands played, doughnuts were served, and visitors to the square were festooned in red capes or t-shirts embossed with the nation’s signature maple leaf.
Some days later, on 4th July, American Independence Day rolled out across the capital. As punters consumed beers and hung bunting, the irony of London celebrating the anniversary of a nation declaring independence from its rule was cheerily forgotten. Our capital city, it seems, enjoys weaving the commemoration of other countries’ pasts into its own history.
History on hiatus
This tendency is, of course, welcome and something that makes London a truly global place. But it comes with downsides: the city can feel, for instance, a little as if it’s overlooking positive aspects of its own history – especially the architectural and cultural sides.
A point confirmed by much of the housing stock currently under development in the capital. Although functional and well-equipped, the homes often lack a sense of – for want of a better word – “past” that makes an owner feel part of something bigger. This isn’t just a concern for the historically interested, it has solid investment ramifications. Create something more poignant than the sum of its bricks and mortar and it will be more valuable as a property. A building’s history is what an accountant might term an intangible asset.
A bridge to the past
One development that’s certainly not suffering from a dearth of historical life is Pinks Mews – a secluded mews development just off Chancery Lane in the heart of Holborn. Holborn itself has a long and interesting history, dating back to the 12th Century, when it was the site of Temple Church, headquarters of the famed and feared Knights Templar. The area’s reputation as a meeting-point for the powerful continued into the Late Medieval period with the establishment of the Inns of Court on its turf, before steadily morphing into its present day form as a locus for big law firms, banks and accounting houses.
The story of Pinks Mews is intertwined with that of Holborn. The first incarnation of Pinks Mews is as the 16th Century ‘Dyers’ Buildings’, so-named because the set of buildings were where professional dyers would dye coats with the pinky-red pigment of the exotic Madder Plant. The buildings also served as an almshouse, first under the benefaction of wealthy philanthropist Henry West, and then the City Livery Company. By the mid-1800s, Dyers was an enclave of workshops and offices for the artisans and craftsmen needed to support a city undergoing the Industrial Revolution, before transforming – as much of the area had done – into barristers’ chambers and then residential property.
From almshouses to luxury penthouses, suffice to say Pinks Mews has had a history as colourful as its name suggests. This gives it a clear value advantage over other properties in the area, especially at a time when foreign buyers are looking for something different in the £1m+ market. After all, not everyone can say they live on the site that dyed fox-hunters tailcoats their distinctive bright red.
This character and charm is reinforced by Pinks being a mews scheme – one of London’s few remaining mews developments and all the more sought-after for it. At the same time, however, it offers modern, luxury accommodation the likes of which would normally be found in Mayfair or Knightsbridge, with 24-hour concierge facilities as standard. Pinks Mews is a place where history and the high-end meet: few London developments can boast the same advantage. Take a look round, be taken aback and take away a piece of Holborn’s heritage