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Dennis Wheatley's Homes

1935 - 1940: 8 St Johns Woods Park, NW8

St Johns Woods Park

The re-built No. 8

Picture : Courtesy Steve Patton

Bombed out

The bombed out shell
of the original No. 8,
as photographed in
the early 1950's

No. 8 lay on the west side of St John's Wood Park. It was built in the 1840s, and like the other houses in the road it was semi-detached. Behind stone balustrades each house had a small front garden and there was a larger garden behind the house. The garden was big enough for a fair sized lawn and a big herbaceous border, and there was a fifty foot oak tree at the far end.

The garden backed onto a much larger one in the Finchley Road, and in the spring the room where DW did his writing looked out onto a sea of blossom.

It was here than DW and Joe Links hatched the idea of the Crime Dossiers, and here that DW wrote books ranging from Contraband to Strange Conflict.

It was also here that DW listened to the radio in his drawing room with Joan, Bill, Diana and Colin when the Prime Minister announced at 11 a.m. on 3rd September 1939 that we were at war again.

In typically practical fashion DW made an air raid shelter of which the main ingredient was empty champagne cases filled with rubble and re-inforced with cement, and when he had done so the his family drank to a speedy victory and the safety of his family and friends with a magnum of Louis Roederer 1928.

For the early part of the war DW 'kicked his heels' but later on, while still a civilian, he was invited to write his 'War Papers', and some of these were written here. A few others were written in a house on the Highclere Estate in Hampshire, where DW went for a ten week sojourn, and where he sent his best items of furniture.

Just before Christmas 1940, the house was bombed. The bomb actually fell on the house opposite, but the damage to No. 8 was severe; all the windows were shattered and the doors stove in. Fortunately, the bomb fell at about six o'clock in the evening, so no-one was in the house at the time.

The Wheatleys had no choice but to move out.

References : ‘Drink and Ink’ pages 138,139,154,159,162,171,181,197,199,201-2,206.