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A home that changed history I


t was a scandalous love affair between the heir to the throne and a married American socialite, which shocked the world and threw the royal family into turmoil.


And now a flat is available to rent in the Mayfair property where King


Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson began their clandestine romance. Located on the lower ground floor of Farm House on Farm Street, the


two-bedroom, self-contained apartment has its own private entrance, two en-suite bathrooms and a secluded courtyard. The half-timbered house, with its gothic-looking windows and heavy wooden doors, was a working farm before Mayfair was developed, and the deeds still reportedly include a right of way for sheep. The property was rebuilt in the early 1900s by a Mrs M Strakosch, who installed a large oak front door that is carved on both sides with the heads of the 12 apostles.


In the 1930s it was occupied by Thelma Furness, wife of Marmaduke,


the 1st Viscount Furness and the mistress of the Prince of Wales, who would later become King Edward VIII. Thelma was close friends with Wallis Simpson, and introduced her to the prince at a party at her country home. When the viscountess travelled to America for a few months to visit her sister, Edward


stayed at Farm House with Mrs Simpson to keep him company. In her autobiography, Silent Boulevard, actress Gloria Swanson wrote: “Lady Thelma Furness had a charming house on Farm Street, where her friend Wallis Simpson has kept the Prince of Wales company while Thelma was away in the States.” When Thelma returned, she found that Mrs Simpson had usurped her in the prince’s affections and was now his mistress. Two years later Edward became king, but his obsessive and all-consuming love for Wallis led to the abdication crisis of 1936.


By this time Gloria Swanson, who was expecting her second child,


had rented Farm House with her husband, writing: “The house was empty for the moment, so we settled in to wait for the baby and see old friends.” When the little girl was born, a local newspaper reported: “Miss Swanson has been in London for some time with her husband, Michael Farmer. The baby was born in the house where Miss Swanson and her husband live on Farm Street, in the fashionable Mayfair section of London.”


The apartment at Farm House, Farm Street, is to let with Wetherell (020 7493 6935) and Carter Jonas (020 7493 0676), priced at £850 a week.


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