"who could live in a house like this?" Not you.
The Victorian Society, watchmen of all things 19th Century, have raised a red flag over a 20th Century pile. Witanhurst in Highgate is the second largest home in London after Buckingham Palace, boasting 25 bedrooms and views across Hampstead Heath. You may remember it from such productions as 'Fame Academy' and 'Tipping the Velvet'. Or, if you're very rich and very old, from the society soirées held here in the 1950s, one of which was attended by the future Queen.
The house was recently bought by 'Russia's wealthiest woman' Yelena Baturina for a cool £50 million (although several news articles about this, including one from the Times, appear to have been removed from the web). According to the Victorian Society, Baturina's plans for a comprehensive renovation include the demolition of a service wing and excavation of 'an enormous basement' for swimming, cinema and parking.
The Society opposes these alterations to the Grade II* property. "'This house, which was built on the scale of a palace, is an integral part of London's heritage," says conservation adviser Kristian Kaminski. "Its service wing had an important function in the running of a large household in the early 20th century and such social history shouldn't be rubbed out."
Image taken from newformula's Flickr stream.