The Bishops Avenue
An ultra-exclusive street running from the northern tip of Hampstead Heath to East Finchley. Neighbouring Winnington Road is almost as well-heeled. Highgate golf course lies to the east and Hampstead Garden Suburb to the west. The name derives from the bishops of London, who owned a large hunting park in the area in the late Middle Ages. This is probably the most ‘desirable’ address outside central London, if you like ostentatious displays of wealth. One house, 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. A Middle Eastern businessman bought it in 1995 for £6¾ million. Prices on the avenue have continued to spiral and when Toprak Mansion went on the market in 2005 offers were sought in the region of £50 million. The council has taken exception to some of the most vulgar monstrosities that have been put up here in the last decade or two, but realistically the avenue is beyond redemption and should be allowed to continue as an object of amazement and amusement. However, London’s billionaires mostly prefer to live in Kensington or Belgravia, so some properties have lain empty in recent years and the latest trend is for their replacement by high-price, low-rise apartment blocks.