NEWS

Duke Of Westminster: How A £9bn Fortune Saw One Man Own Swathes Of Property Across UK

A third of Britain is owned by the aristocracy.

10/08/2016 11:15 | Updated 10 August 2016

The Duke of Westminster has died suddenly aged 64, leaving nearly 300 acres of land in London’s most expensive areas to his 25-year-old son.

The property magnate was one of the richest men in Britain, holding 190 acres of land in Belgravia, the high-end district near Buckingham Palace, and 100 acres in Mayfair.

Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor was worth £8.3 billion, according to Forbes, making him the third richest person in the UK and the 68th richest in the world.

Lewis Whyld/PA Wire
The Duke of Westminster being made a Companion of the Order of the Bath by Queen Elizabeth.

His property portfolio - which will now be inherited by his 25-year-old son Hugh Grosvenor - takes in more than 1,500 buildings including hotels, shops, homes, offices, as well as entire streets and squares in London.

A third of Britain is owned by the aristocracy, The Daily Mail reports, and the heart of the Duke’s empire was his Grosvenor Estate, owned by his family since 1677 when Sir Thomas Grosvenor married heiress Mary Davies.

The family developed areas in the West End, turning them from swamp into the city’s most high-end districts.

The Duke also owned property in Cambridge and Liverpool, thousands of acres in Scotland, Spain, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Stockholm, Vancouver, Washington and Tokyo.

The Duke, who was a close friend of the royal family, was reported in 2010 to employ 1,200 people in nine countries.

These are some of his most notable properties in London:

  • 1 The aristocratic square
    Grosvenor Estate
    Grosvenor Square, near Bond Street and Marble Arch station, was developed in the 1700s. It was home to many aristocrats in the first half of the last century, but today, it's circled by mansion blocks and embassies, including the US embassy. It has a long connection with the US - former President John Adams lived at number 9 and it was the base for General Dwight D Eisenhower during the Second World War
  • 2 The arty hotel
    Grosvenor Estate
    The Beaumont Hotel in Mayfair is Grade II listed and features 'the first inhabitable work of art by leading British artist Sir Antony Gormley' - a huge steel and oak sculpture in one of the suites. Its Mayfair suites will set you back at least £2,250 a night
  • 3 The Google offices
    Grosvenor Estate
    The Duke owned Belgrave, a luxury office used by Google as one of its London bases. American Express also rents an office in the building
  • 4 The famous hat maker's street
    Grosvenor Estate
    The Grosvenor Estate includes Elizabeth Street, a luxury shopping road running between Buckingham Palace and Eaton Square. It is home to the couture hat shop of Philip Treacy, who has made headgear worn by Lady Gaga and Sarah Jessica Parker, as well as 36 hats worn at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. You can also buy hand-rolled Cuban cigars at Tomtom, and dog outfits at Mungo & Maud
  • 5 Scott's and the fashion houses
    Grosvenor Estate
    The estate includes 47 retail premises on high-end Mount Street, well-known seafood restaurant Scott’s relaunched in 2007. Fashion brands Balenciaga, Christopher Kane and Oscar de la Renta all have flagship shops on the red-brick street
  • 6 The Victoria hub
    Grosvenor Estate
    The Duke owned Eccleston Place, a white-brick development in Victoria that is home to offices, homes, shops and Victoria Coach Station. The Belgravia neighbourhood may soon be redeveloped into a 'high-quality, integrated, mixed-use neighbourhood with its own identity'.
  • 7 The public gardens
    Grosvenor Estate
    Brown Hart Gardens, near Oxford Street, was built on top of an electricity substation and is slightly raised to help with drainage. It's a 10,000 square foot public space, often hosting markets and events. In the early 1900s, the flats nearby were home to working class people, made possible by the then Duke of Westminster charging low ground rents
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