Few properties and sites have more fascinating stories to tell than those that played a part in the First and Second World Wars, though for security reasons their roles often weren’t acknowledged at the time.
All these homes currently on the market harboured secrets that helped to keep the nation safe. If only the walls could talk …
1. Tobacco Warehouse, Liverpool, from £260,000
When competed in 1901, this was the biggest brick warehouse in the world.
During the Second World War it was converted into a US military base responsible for the storage and shipment of supplies to US army personnel based in the UK while preparing for the D-Day landings.
One of the floors became a US field hospital, another stored valuables captured from Nazi ships, and such was its importance that it was toured by US first lady Eleanor Roosevelt in 1942.
It’s now being repurposed as 550 spacious one, two and three-bedroom loft-style apartments. From Stanley Dock properties.
2. Terlingham Gardens, Folkestone, Kent, from £320,000
A thriving over-55s community of two-bed apartments and homes has been built on part of the former RAF Hawkinge airfield, which closed in 1961.
As the closest major fighter base to occupied Europe, RAF Hawkinge was kept extremely busy throughout the Second World War.
During the Dunkirk evacuation in May/June 1940 its aircraft provided essential air cover for the Allied forces, and fighter squadrons gave aerial support in the run up to the D-Day landings in June 1944 and afterwards. From Pentland Homes.
3. The Links, Porthcawl, Bridgend, from £425,000
Founded by a local doctor, The Rest opened in 1878 as a convalescent hospital for local miners and other industrial workers.
It was used by St John’s Ambulance Association in the First World War as an auxiliary war hospital, with almost 2,500 soldiers receiving treatment, and again in the Second World War before reverting back to its former function.
The listed hospital building has now been converted into luxury apartments alongside sympathetically-designed new-builds, all overlooking South Wales’ top surfing beach. Find out more from Acorn Property Group.
4. Royal Arsenal Riverside, Woolwich, London, from £475,000
More than 5,000 homes, plus shops, restaurant, bars and a new cultural quarter are being delivered on a riverside site previously occupied by the Royal Arsenal in London. Prior to the development, weapons were manufactured almost continuously since the 16th century.
At its peak in the First World War, more than 80,000 people were employed there, making it the country’s largest producers of munitions, and many of the homes are in converted heritage buildings.
Discover what’s available at the site in Woolwich by contacting Berkeley.
5. Trent Park, Enfield, London, from £790,000
There can’t be many housing schemes that boast such an illustrious history as Trent Park, an estate which formed part of Enfield Chase, one of Henry IV’s hunting grounds.
In 1912, it was inherited by socialite Sir Philip Sassoon, who entertained eminent guests such as the Duke of Windsor, Sir Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin.
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At the outbreak of the Second World War, it was requisitioned by the government and turned into a state-of-the art surveillance centre for captured German officers, with teams of secret listeners gathering vital intelligence from bugged conversations.
Two-bedroom apartments and three and four-bedroom houses are currently for sale on the site, and homes in Sassoon’s restored mansion house will be released at a later date. For more information see the Berkeley website.
6. The Clock Tower Penthouse, Gun Hill Park, Aldershot, Hampshire, £850,000
The Grade II-listed Cambridge Military Hospital – the main army hospital in both world wars and the first to receive to receive casualties direct from the battlefront in 1914 – is now a collection of 140 apartments and houses.
At its apex, in the 109 foot-high clock tower, is quite possibly the UK’s quirkiest penthouse.
Arranged across six floors, it incorporates three bedrooms, a cinema room, a cupola with a fifth floor viewing platform and the clock turret. From Weston Homes.
7. Bickenhall Mansions, Marylebone, London, £2.75m
A two-bedroom, two-bathroom architect-designed apartment on the fourth floor of a Victorian red-brick mansion block that was taken over by an intelligence unit during the Second World War.
The Special Operations Executive – also known as Churchill’s Private Army – specialised in infiltrating and sabotaging Nazi plots and communicated by radio with resistance groups across Europe. Now it's for sale through Dexters
8. Rowley Ridge, Arkley, London, £8.5m
This contemporary country house is on the site of a MI6 spy base of the Second World War, where analysts monitored and transcribed suspicious broadcasts which were then sent to Bletchley Park for decoding before being reviewed by the War Cabinet.
Complete with six double bedrooms, a cinema, games room, gym, swimming pool and steam room, the house bristles with enough security features to make MI6 proud, including a panic/safe room, CCTV with remote monitoring and a biometric entry system. If you are interested send a communique to Beauchamp Estates.
9. Domaine la Sylviane, Valbonne, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France, valued at €20m, subject to offers
Dating back to the 13th century, this beautiful 14-bedroom house conceals a network of cellars and a tunnel built by local monks.
In the Second World War it was commandeered by south-east France’s resistance leader Camille Rayon, who successfully hid Allied airmen and soldiers and helped them travel to Spain and Portugal for repatriation. Contact Carlton Group for more information.
10. Twenty Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, London W1 from £17.5m
General Dwight Eisenhower orchestrated the D-Day landings from this imposing building, which was the HQ of the US Naval Forces in Europe during the Second World War.
Today it’s the world’s first standalone Four Seasons Private Residences, comprising 37 grand, light-filled apartments with access to a private wine cellar, a spa, pool, fitness centre, cinema and host of other top-end amenities. Find out more at Twenty Grosvenor Square.