Alan Bennett has put the London property he shared with the real-life star of Lady in a Van on the market for £3m.
Bennett spent 40 years in the Victorian home on Camden’s Gloucester Crescent, sharing its grounds with a homeless woman called Miss Mary Shepherd. She lived in a van parked on the playwright’s front garden from 1974, dubbed ‘London’s most famous parking space’, until her death in 1989.
Their eccentric relationship provided inspiration for Bennett’s most famous play, and he held onto the Grade II-listed house after moving to Primrose Hill. It was later used in the 2015 film adaptation of Lady in a Van, starring Maggie Smith.
Now on the market for £3m via David Birkett Estate Agents, the London property blurs Bennett’s idiosyncratic touches with period features, including fireplaces dating from 1840, wooden floorboards and cornicing added by Bennett in 1969.
‘The walls of the sitting room and the study in Gloucester Crescent are just as I decorated them nearly half a century ago,’ Bennett wrote in the London Review of Books. Plaster is still stained a slightly-lurid green and pale terracotta colour.
‘I have always been quite proud of my efforts though aware over the years that the finish I achieved has often been thought eccentric.’
While the four-storey house will appeal to literary fans, it will need modernising. ‘It now requires full renovation to create an exceptional family home,’ says the listing. This includes updating its kitchen and bathrooms.