Inside the Spectacular 7.5m Home With a Musical History
Sat 22 Nov 2014
Its one of the most memorable tunes in the history of pop. Acker Bilks 1961 hit Stranger On The Shore is the biggest-selling instrumental single of all time and became the first British recording ever to reach No.1 in the US Charts.
Now, 53 years after its release, and in the month in which clarinettist Acker Bilk sadly passed away at the age of 85, the premises in Londons Holland Park where he recorded the famous track have been put on the market for 7.5million as a four-bedroom flat.
Until eight years ago the property was Lansdowne Studios one fo the most famous recording spaces in London where, besides Bilk, stars such as Shirley Bassey, Queen, Bryan Ferry and John Lennon laid down tracks. Spatial and Interior designer Audrey Lovelock and her husband Jeff, 50, bought the property from the studios owner and engineer Adrian Kerridge in 2006.
Audrey, 52, recalls the couple living in the space for a year with their teenage sons before she began realising their dream of converting it into the apartment it is today.
We hadnt even got full planning permission when we bought it and a number of things had to be ironed out before we could get started, she says. Of course, it had the huge studio window which separated the mixing desks from the studio area. The boys loved it because of the soundproofing, they could have 20 mates around and we wouldnt even know they were there.
The flat is in Lansdowne House, which was built in 1904 as a place where struggling painters could work. There are 11 other flats in the building.
At Lansdowne Studios, besides the studio space there was a smoking room and a thermal bath. The transformation of the property into a luxury living space took five years and Audrey not only needed her design skill but a great deal of logic, too, as she wrestled with complex problems involving wiring and plumbing. I didnt know what I was letting myself in for, she jokes.
Such was the transformation of the property that it was featured in magazines and on TV shows, including Grand Designs. Audreys job was made easier by some of the natural features of the space, which is spread over three floors lower ground, ground and first floor, including its 12ft windows in the ground floor reception room, and the original fireplaces (Audrey has restored the buildings 90ft chimney). She also rescued some parquet flooring, which has been put into use in the reception room. Taking centre stage in the flat are two beautifully crafted skylights, installed by the Lovelocks.
The four double bedrooms each has an en-suite bathroom, and theres a luxury wet room, gym, cinema room and wine room. There are two terraces, one of which can be used for parking. What was once the studio space is now the vast kitchen/dining area.
Adrian Kerridge clearly remembers the day Acker Bilk arrived to record his most famous song in this space.
It was a three-hour session and Acker was recording with the Leon Young String Chorale. There were about 25 musicians in there violins, violas, cellos. In those days they all played live together there was none of the individual takes you get now and they had it all wrapped up in 25 minutes. The song was then called Jenny, as it was written for his wife. Acker called everyone Dad for some reason and he kept saying, Is that alright, Dad? when we were recording it.
Location: Holland Park, London
Unique Features: Luxury wet room, gym, cinema room and wine room; starred in Grand Designs; fascinating history as a recording studio; the place where Acker Bilk recorded Stranger On The Shore.
Kerridge has a very different memory of the day riotous punk band The Sex Pistols came to record at Lansdowne.
They were a very rough-and-ready crowd, he recalls. They were doing a night session and I came in the following morning. They had sprayed foam all over the studio window, their dog had messed on the carpet and they had spilled wine over the mixing decks!
Audrey is keen to keep alive the musical memories of her flat and has portraits of a number of the artists who recorded there including The Sex Pistols on the wall.