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From Secret Service Base To Luxury Villa

Posted 17 May 2021 by Keith Osborne

Domvs London has built a luxurious new home on a site in north London with a fascinating WWII history...

A top-secret WW2 listening post base used by MI6 to spy on German signals for PM Winston Churchill has been given a modern makeover and is now known as Rowley Ridge, a newly built 11,000-sq-ft country house set in landscaped grounds.

Unveiled by selling agents Beauchamp Estates and located in the village of Arkley in the London Brough of Barnet, the luxury residence has six double bedrooms and comes complete with state-of-the-art leisure facilities including a cinema, games room, gymnasium, swimming pool and spa steam room. It comes with a fascinating history.

Rowley Ridge and the village of Arkley’s role as a top secret MI6 base began at the start of WW2 when MI6 established a Radio Security Service which was used to intercept illicit wireless messages operated by enemy agents in Britain and transmissions from German U-boats. The work was so secret that the MI6 base was originally established in HMS Prison Wormwood Scrubs, with wireless transmitters set up on the roof of the prison and the radio operators and decoders working from the secure cells on an upper floor.

MI6 at ArkleyMI6 team at Arkley

As Wormwood began to suffer German air attacks in early 1940, it was decided to relocate the MI6 listening post to outer London and Arkley was chosen by Churchill because the leafy village is located at a decent altitude of 440 feet above sea level, making the location highly advantageous for capturing radio transmissions.

MI6 toured Arkley and selected half a dozen detached country houses set in large gardens – including the site of Rowley Ridge - which were then requisitioned and converted to house the Radio Security Service, the village base helping support the code-breaking taking place at Bletchley Park.

The MI6 houses were guarded by police and given bullet proof doors and windows with wireless transmitters and other top-secret technology placed on the roofs. Inside the houses a team of 55 analysts, who included historian Hugh Trevor-Roper (later Lord Dacre), monitored and transcribed suspicious broadcasts which were then sent by motorbike despatch rider to Bletchley Park for decoding before being passed to Winton Churchill and the War Cabinet for review. During 1944 the MI6 houses at Arkley were also used by Churchill to send out strategic radio messages to mislead the Germans about the D-Day landings.

After WWII the original Edwardian villa at Rowley Ridge, along with some of the other MI6 houses in the village such as Arkley View, were demolished for security reasons and the role of Arkley as an MI6 base was largely forgotten apart from fans of military history.

Rowley RidgeLuxury developer Domvs London into Rowley Ridge has now built a country house which benefits from views across a private golf course and greenbelt land, with a sweeping gated entrance driveway and large rear gardens with the grand double-fronted façade offering bays to the front and rear and striking oval and dormer windows as well as feature chimneys to the roofscape.

With architecture inspired by the original Edwardian-era villa, it provides luxurious accommodation over basement, ground and two upper floors. The entrance hall leads to a spectacular central oval-shaped, three-storey atrium with galleried landings on each floor overlooking the atrium space, surmounted by an oval glass roof cupola.

The atrium adjoins the main staircase and the ground floor hallway gives access to a study and family room to the front of the house with a 70-ft-wide triple reception room spanning the entire rear elevation. This main reception room incorporates a lounge area, drawing room area and dining area, with two bays with French doors opening onto the rear garden.

The fully fitted, custom-designed family kitchen is located off the main reception room and has a veined marble central island/breakfast bar, Gaggenau appliances and bespoke units and cupboards which can be concealed behind folding doors. There is also a guest powder room and separate utility room on this floor.

basement floor provides the extensive health and leisure facilities. There is a large Dolby Atmos sound-proofed cinema room with cocktail bar area, a games room and a health spa which incorporates a pool room clad in natural stone offering a large swimming pool bordered by leisure decks, a separate gymnasium, a steam room and a changing room with shower and toilet facilities.

The principal bedroom suite spans the entire rear façade of the first floor incorporating a bedroom opening onto private balcony, a separate walk-in dressing area and a main bathroom with a sculptural freestanding bathtub set on a marble plinth and doors onto a private balcony. The first floor includes three further bedroom suites, each with en suite bathrooms. On the top floor there is a guest suite with walk-in dressing room and bathroom, a safe/panic room and a store room.

Rowley RidgeThe luxurious specification fine materials throughout including marble, rare stone and oak, beautifully designed architraves and doors, bespoke joinery to all cupboards and wardrobes, oak parquet flooring to all principal rooms, underfloor heating throughout and bespoke bathrooms with integrated waterproof TVs. The house has the latest Crestron i-pad intuitive Smart Home technology, air-conditioning and mood lighting.

Other security features “which would make MI6 proud” include the bespoke panic/safe room, CCTV throughout, including remote monitoring, biometric entry system, and the house can be fully controlled from anywhere in the world, even to the extent of allowing guests access.

The extensive landscaped front and south-facing rear gardens of Rowley Ridge have been designed by Chelsea Garden Show Gold Award winner Luciano Giubbilei. The house is complete with a double garage large enough to accommodate two Rolls Royces or Range Rovers, with substantial private parking for guests.

Jon O’ Brien, chairman and CEO of Domvs London, said: “Rowley Ridge by Domvs London is an outstanding newly built house with the architectural design providing an elegant classical exterior façade, with the beautiful interiors designed around the three-storey central atrium with the generously sized living spaces designed to maximise space and light.”

Rosy Khalastchy, head of Beauchamp Estates (St John’s Wood office), said: “Set in beautiful landscaped grounds “Rowley Ridge is arguably the finest newly built country house in the Arkley area, with the beautiful interiors designed to maximise light and space, along with five-star leisure facilities.”

Jeremy Gee, managing director of Beauchamp Estates, says: “As a local resident I am naturally biased, but I truly believe that Arkley is a true leafy oasis, one of London’s most exclusive enclaves, bordered by both greenbelt countryside and the private golf course, yet only nine miles from London’s West End. Arkley’s hidden role as a WW2 MI6 base adds the excitement and glamour of the Secret Services, spies and gadgets.”

Rowley Ridge is for sale for £8.5million. Find out more at [email protected] or www.beauchamp.com.


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