A recent Movers and Shakers breakfast presentation by the LSE’s Tony Travers highlighted the huge competitive advantage London gains in the global market from its great estates, including The Crown Estate (dating back to 1066), Grosvenor, Howard de Walden, Portman and Cadogan to name some of the largest.
They are so much part of the fabric of London life that we tend to undervalue all this heritage on our doorstep. We were mildly surprised when millions around the world tuned in to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, to observe our uniquely British pageantry and aristocracy at play. In real estate terms, this is a huge point of differentiation for London.
In contrast, New York and Hong Kong’s real estate dynasties are relative newcomers and lack the history lurking behind our every street name. As well as the eponymous Grosvenor, Cadogan and Portman squares you only have to stray slightly off Marylebone High Street to find the site of the former Ragged School in the delightfully named Grotto Passage.
Aristocratic owners began building on open land west of the City in the 17th century. As Travers pointed out, the landed estates have not always been held in high esteem; their elitist nature and feudal holding of land in perpetuity didn’t play well as the UK became more democratised.
Read Susan Freeman's full column in Property Week here.