Trump wants Queen to grant 1,000-year lease on US ambassador's mansion

Donald Trump wants Queen to grant 1,000-year lease on US ambassador’s Regent’s Park mansion with sprawling 12-acre garden as part of trade deal

  • President Trump expected to ask for a 999-year extension on Crown Estate lease
  • Winfield House sits in 12.5 acres on the north-west side of Regent’s Park, London 
  • The 35-room mansion built by Barbara Hutton, who lived there with Cary Grant

Donald Trump is lobbying for the Queen to extend the Crown Estate lease on the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Regent’s Park as part of the UK-US trade deal, sources say.

The U.S lease on Winfield House has been in place since 1955 but is set to expire in 2053, with Trump angling for a 999-year extension to be put in place, reports The Times.

The 35-room neo-Georgian mansion boasts a 12.5 acre garden in prime central London and could be among the most expensive homes in the city, with the second largest garden after Buckingham Palace.

Housing U.S. presidents and ambassadors the gold gilded interiors of Winfield House are suggested to remind Trump of home, his penthouse in Trump Tower, New York. 

The U.S lease on Winfield House, north-west side of Regent’s Park, central London, has been in place since 1955 but is set to expire in 2053

Now the former New York property developer is expected to ask for the inclusion of the residence’s lease in a UK-US trade deal, with his billionare friend and current U.S ambassador to London, Woody Johnson, recently raising the issue in a meeting with UK officials.

The source told The Times: ‘Johnson could talk of little else’.

Although the property is not for sale, it could fetch well into the hundreds of millions – especially with it’s attached history – a nearby 45-room Kensington mansion sold to Hong Kong billionaire, Cheung Chung-kiu, for for £210m earlier this year. 

U.S. President Donald Trump leaves Winfield House, residence of the US Ambassador Woody Johnson, left, July 13, 2018 in London

U.S President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump stand with American Ambassador to the United Kingdom Woody Johnson and his wife Suzanne Ircha at Winfield House, Jul 2018

The house has been visited by many a famous face and president, including Donald Trump and family in June of last year, The Royal Family, President George Bush, President Barack Obama, President Mikhail Gorbachev, Winston Churchill and so on.

A source close to Liz Truss, Secretary of State for International Trade, said the matter was yet to be formally raised, reports The Times.

MailOnline has contacted Liz Truss and Buckingham Palace for comment. 

First Lady Melania Trump, Suzanne Ircha, wife of the US Ambassador to London and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall smile as they attend a dinner at Winfield House, June 04, 2019 

Melania Trump, right, with Suzanne Ircha, wife of the American Ambassador to the UK at Winfield House

The dining room at Winfield House set for a dinner for President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Prince Charles, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, June 4, 2019

A spokesman for the US embassy told The Times: ‘We look forward to continuing the long-standing traditions of Winfield House as the official residence of the ambassador to the Court of St James’s.’ 

After initially talking up the possibility of a UK-US trade deal this year – with Downing Street and the White House aiming to get a trade deal finalised before Donald Trump sought re-election –  Number 10 has since said it would not commit to a specific timetable for the talks to conclude, instead saying the aim is to strike a deal ‘as soon as we can’.

Inside the history of Winfield House

It was built by the famous American socialite Barbara Hutton in the 1930s. She was dubbed the ‘poor little rich girl’ because of her troubled life and lived there for a period with her husband Cary Grant.

The 35-room mansion replaced a John Nash building and was named after Hutton’s grandfather Frank Winfield Woolworth, founder of the retail stores. It has been the US Ambassador’s residence in London since 1955.

The house stands behind fifteen-foot high iron gates on land that was once part of a ‘great forest, with wooded glades and lairs of wild beasts, deer both red and fallow, wild bulls and boars’. 

Half a century before the Norman Conquest the land belonged to the Abbey of Barking. Over the years, King Henry VIII hunted there, Queen Elizabeth I used it for entertaining dignitaries, King James I offered it as collateral to raise money to go to war and King Charles II had the whole area ‘disparked’ and opened to the public.

American Ambassador Robert Tuttle and wife Maria Tuttle at Winfield House, London, May 2007

Winfield House is unique among American residences because it was originally a gift to the US Government. 

It has since been showered with riches in the form of antique furniture, paintings, porcelain, china, glass, chandeliers, objets d’art – all the things that make it the beautiful house visitors see today.

The first to use the house as the ambassadorial residence was Winthrop Aldrich. Ambassador and Mrs Aldrich moved in on January 18, 1955 after a significant restoration had taken place.

When Ambassador Elliot Richardson arrived in 1975 his wife said, ‘the house was absolutely wonderful. . . a joy to move into’ and when Ambassador Anne Armstrong moved in in 1976 she said: ‘I ran through the house like a kid, I’d never seen anything so beautiful. It was like fairyland and in such beautiful shape.’

Not only the Ambassadors, but other generous Americans contributed to the house, among them sugar baron Rionda Braga, who donated a bronze sculpture, ‘The Creation of Adam’ which stands in the garden to the right of the terrace.

Mr Braga felt that the statue’s motif, two hands inside a globe, signified British and American friendship.

Ambassador John Louis brought a platform tennis court and while  her was at Winfield House – from 1981 to 1983- Cary Grant visited it for the first time after the Second World War and the breakdown of his marriage.

Tears streamed down his face as he looked across the lawns from the Garden Room because of its beauty and thinking about his ex-wife Barbara Hutton.

Today Winfield House continues the tradition of receiving a host of distinguished guests.  Over the years these have included the Queen and other members of the royal family, and many other prominent figures in business, politics, diplomacy, banking, the armed services, education and the arts.

The late Princess Diana once brought Princes William and Harry to see the presidential helicopter Marine One parked on the lawn.

Visiting US presidents traditionally stay at the residence, watched over by portraits of their predecessors, some of whom served as both President of the United States and U.S. envoys to London. 

President George Bush met President Mikhail Gorbachev there during the 1991 G-7 Summit.

President Reagan was a frequent visitor. More recently, Senator George Mitchell hosted participants in the Northern Ireland Peace Process at Winfield House during his review of the Good Friday agreement in November 1999. 

President Obama also stayed there and hosted a reception for the Queen and Prince Philip. 

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