The Bishops Avenue

The Bishops Avenue, Barnet

An ultra-exclusive street running from the northern tip of Hampstead Heath to East Finchley

Royal Mansion, formerly Toprak Mansion

The avenue’s name derives from the bish­ops of Lon­don, who owned a large hunt­ing park in the area in the late Mid­dle Ages. High­gate golf course lies to the east and Hamp­stead Gar­den Sub­urb to the west.

Over the course of the 20th cen­tu­ry ever larg­er and grander prop­er­ties were built here and this is now prob­a­bly the most ‘desir­able’ address out­side cen­tral Lon­don – at least as an invest­ment, if not as a place to live. Neigh­bour­ing Win­ning­ton Road is almost as expen­sive.

One house on the Bish­ops Avenue, the Tow­ers, sold for around £10 mil­lion in 1992 – a phe­nom­e­nal price at that time. Its fea­tures include an island with palm trees in the mid­dle of its indoor swim­ming pool.

Anoth­er, the twelve-bed­room, eleven-bath­room Sum­mer Palace, was built in 1991. It has a brass and crys­tal glass lift, a com­pre­hen­sive leisure com­plex and a cen­tral atri­um. It is present­ly owned by the steel baron Lak­sh­mi Mit­tal but is not his main place of res­i­dence in Lon­don.

Toprak Man­sion (shown above) was sold in 2008 to the Kaza­khstani bil­lion­airess Horel­ma Pera­mam for £50 mil­lion. The house had been nick­named Top Whack Man­sion but is now for­mal­ly known as Roy­al Man­sion.

Hidden London: A new house on the Bishops Avenue

Oth­er prop­er­ties are owned by mem­bers of the Sau­di and Brunei roy­al fam­i­lies.

In May 2013 a High Court judge gave receivers KPMG the go-ahead to sell Carl­ton House, a £20 mil­lion Bish­ops Avenue man­sion that belonged to Mukhtar Ablya­zov, who was alleged to have mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ed bil­lions of dol­lars of his Kaza­kh bank’s assets.

London’s res­i­dent bil­lion­aires most­ly pre­fer to live in Kens­ing­ton or Bel­gravia and in recent years sev­er­al Bish­op’s Avenue prop­er­ties have lain emp­ty – some­times prompt­ing squat­ters to move in for a while.

Accord­ing to a 2014 Guardian inves­ti­ga­tion, sev­er­al huge hous­es (includ­ing the Tow­ers) are falling into ruin after stand­ing almost com­plete­ly vacant for up to a quar­ter of a cen­tu­ry.

Late­ly, a few hous­es have been replaced by high-price, low-rise apart­ment blocks – but one new man­sion, Jer­sey House, was sold for £33.7 mil­lion in Decem­ber 2014.

Successful singers and musicians to have owned homes on the Bishops Avenue have included Gracie Fields, Lulu, Ringo Starr, Sting, George Michael and Annie Lennox.

“Why not talk about Bishops Avenue / I’ve got a lovely house on Bishops Avenue,” sang Elton John in his 1988 parody of ‘Give Peace a Chance’.

Postal district: N2