Home of the United States Ambassador, the 12 acre private gardens are the second largest in central London, beaten only in size by Buckingham Palace. The land was used for hunting or entertaining dignitaries by various English Kings and Queens until the end of the 17th century when King Charles had the area disparked and it was given to Lord Arlington as one of the first private leases. By the 19th century, architect John Nash had created an elaborate plan to convert the land from rural countryside to 56 villas and a zoo. However by the time the plans were actually approved, costs had skyrocketed and only eight villas were built. The largest of these villas was Hertford Villa (later St. Dustan’s), commissioned for the 3rd Marquess of Hertford and designed by Decimus Burton. A fire partly destroyed the neglected St. Dustan’s villa in the 1920’s, where it was then acquired by 24-year-old heiress Barbara Hutton (granddaughter of Frank Winfield Woolworth, founder of the Woolworth store chain). Leonard Rome Guthrie was commissioned to tear down the old Villa and replace it with a red brick Georgian style house, named Winfield House. By 1939, World War II and Huttons divorce to Count Reventlow saw her return to America, and Winfield House used by an RAF barrage balloon unit. After the War, Hutton gifted Winfield House to the US Government to be used as a residence for the American Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s, for the price of one US dollar. Since 1957, Winfield House has been the home of the American Ambassador in England, with contributions over the years including the bronze sculpture ‘The Creation of Adam’ (a symbol of the British and American friendship) which sits in the garden to the right of the terrace, two stone eagles guarding the rear terrace and a statue of a young Barbara Hutton in the centre of the Parterre Garden. Care has been taken to preserve the pastoral ambience of the 12 acre gardens, with extensive lawns and gentle mounds framing sweeping natural views.
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