Blue Plaque £4.5 million four bedroom Chelsea home of British-Hollywood actress Diana Dors for sale
Providing 2,152 sq. ft (199.9 sqm) of living space the four bedroom fully modernised Blue Plaque home of British-Hollywood actress Diana Dors (1931-1984) is for sale on Burnsall Street in Chelsea, where Dors lived during the 1950s and 1960s and entertained A-list celebrities, the Kray twins and (allegedly) Royalty.
Located just off the King’s Road, moments from Chelsea Green, the double-fronted townhouse on Burnsall Street was the London home of Diana Dors between 1953 and 1968 and offers an abundance of living space over basement, lower ground, ground and two upper levels. The three storey townhouse provides two reception rooms and four spacious bedrooms, all offering access to ensuite bath/shower rooms, with the ground floor opening onto a patio garden.
The British answer to Marilyn Monroe, blonde bombshell Diana Dors was born in Swindon in 1931 and taking her grandmother’s surname started modelling at the age of just 14, in the same year she lied about her age and relocated to London to study acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
At the age of just 16 Dors starred in her first film The Shop at Sly Corner (1947) and in the same year signed a contract with Film Studio Rank, starring in a series of British films alongside famous names including Honor Blackman and Bob Monkhouse. Dors used the fees she earned, £30 per week, to rent an apartment just off the King’s Road in Chelsea.
In May 1951, while filming Lady Godiva Rides Again for Rank, Dors met Dennis Hamilton Gittins who was to become her first husband and manager and the couple married on 3rd July 1951. It was Hamilton who made sure Dors was promoted as “the English Marilyn Monroe” and even managed to famously secure her a promotional deal with Rolls-Royce meaning Dors was the youngest owner of the luxury car in the UK at the tender age of 20.
Hamilton helped secure Dors a series of lucrative modelling, stage and movie contracts so that by 1953 Dors was earning a reported £12,000 per year, a fortune at that time, and she used some of her earnings in 1953 to purchase the townhouse on Burnsall Street. Hamilton and Dors celebrated their moving in day by holding a photoshoot with the media in the lounge of their new home. The elaborate event was sponsored by cigarette and record-label brands, the photoshoot resulting in a series of iconic images of Dors in her new home at Burnsall Street which are now held by Getty Images.
During her relationship with Hamilton and her second husband comedian Richard “Dickie” Dawson, Dors was famous for regularly holding racy parties at her Burnsall Street townhouse which uniquely mixed A-list celebrities, glamour models, famous figures from London’s crime underworld and (allegedly) male members of the Royal family.
Guests of Burnsall Street enjoyed lavish champagne parties that lasted until dawn, with newspaper photographers regularly staking out the street in order to capture photographs of the famous figures leaving as the sun rose. Such was the uproar that the Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher denounced Dors as a “wayward hussy” and her home as a “den of scandal”; party guests disagreed and said the house was the best party pad in Chelsea.
Hamilton and Dors were close friends with the infamous Kray twins and their mother Violet, the twins being regular guests at the townhouse parties. Other guests at the parties included her lover Bob Monkhouse, Honor Blackman, Oliver Reed, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Michael Caborn-Waterfield, the founder of Ann Summers, and her friend actress Ruth Ellis.
In 1954 Hamilton arranged for Dors to take a series of soft-porn photographs, the photos caused scandal and outrage in the media and film industry but earned Dors a large amount of money and ensured she made headlines in all the newspapers.
By the start of 1955 Dors was earning £5,000 per movie and was voted the ninth-most popular British star at the Box Office, the sole female star in the top ten. In November 1955 she caused outrage in the media by wearing a very revealing neckline when she met HM The Queen and the tabloids accused her of exposing her breasts to the Monarch. The publicity only made Dors and invitations to her home more in demand.
At the start of 1956 she guest starred on a TV special that Hollywood legend Bob Hope made in England and one evening after filming Dors entertained Bob Hope at her Chelsea home. Separated from Hamilton in 1958 Dors started dating comedian Richard “Dickie” Dawson and after Hamilton died in 1959 Dors went on that year to marry Dawson with whom she would have two sons.
In 1966 Dors divorced Dawson and she was declared bankrupt owing debts of £53,000. Dors was forced to sell her beloved Burnsall Street house and she eventually moved to Orchard Manor in Sunningdale with her third husband Alan Lake with whom she had one son, Jason Dors-Lake. Dors lived in Sunningdale with Alan until her untimely death from cancer in May 1984 at the age of just 52 after appearing in more than 60 films. On 11th February 2018 the Blue Plaque to Diana Dors was installed on the façade of the house, unveiled by her son Jason Dors-Lake.
Now Diana Dors famous Burnsall Street party pad in Chelsea is for sale. The Victorian-era property has been extensively renovated by its current owners who purchased the property in March 2018 in a bad state of repair and spent 18 months renovating it to provide a stylish and modern London home.
The current owners converted the basement to provide an additional fourth bedroom with an ensuite bathroom and transformed the Victorian property into a light-filled home with modern living spaces and a contemporary specification.
As part of the refurbishment the ceiling heights were increased on the lower ground and basement floors and two glass floors were added, one in the patio garden and another directly below it on the lower ground floor, allowing light to cascade into the lower floors. The original staircase, which had sat awkwardly in the middle of the house, was also moved, creating open living spaces on all floors.
The modernised house now provides a large open-plan kitchen/reception room with a glass feature ceiling and guest cloakroom on the lower ground floor, a ground floor double reception room which features a framed print from Dors’ iconic 1953 photoshoot at the house, the living space opening onto the patio garden, with four bedrooms and three bathrooms on the other floors.
The property has been finished to a high specification with Oak timber flooring, sash windows and feature lighting to the reception rooms and bedrooms; a fully fitted designed kitchen with stone flooring and worktops, sleek white units and cupboards and integrated appliances; and a main bathroom with floors and walls clad in veined marble, complete with cantilevered suite, vanity units and fitted mirrors.