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Inside the Oliviers’ Love Nest

Posted in - guest post, london, the oliviers on March 5th 2016 8 Comments

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Lena Backström, a long-time fan of the Oliviers from Sweden. Over the years I’ve gotten to know Lena fairly well. When this site first launched she kindly contributed scans from her private collection to the Photo Gallery – many of which I had never seen before. It was a real treat. Since then, we’ve met in person a couple of times, catching up over lunch and swapping stories whenever she’s in London for a visit.

Recently, Lena did some extended research into Durham Cottage, the Oliviers’ love nest in Christchurch Street, Chelsea, west London. Laurence Olivier bought the house (the former coach cottage belonging to the larger Durham House next door) as a London base for he and Vivien Leigh. Using quotes from biographies and excerpts and rare photos from vintage Swedish magazines, Lena was able to plot out what the house looked like when the Oliviers lived there from 1937-1956.

Below is Durham Cottage as we’ve never seen it, but there are some lingering questions: where, exactly, was Laurence Olivier’s study? When did they decide to have separate bedrooms (or were there always two)? Can you help us with the answers?

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Thanks for the job well done, Lena!

If you’ve got a unique idea for a guest post and would like to contribute to the content at vivandlarry.com, please get in touch.

 

As of now (8) people have had something to say...

  • Ted phillips - Reply

    March 5, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    Loved seeing these photos ofvDurham Cottage. I live on the same street only yards away. Durham cottage looks very sad. Been empty for about four years. Falling into rack and ruin. The new owners want to pull it down and rebuild with a new underground floor.
    They are awaiting planning permission from the Kensington and Chelsea council.

    • Kendra - Reply

      March 5, 2016 at 5:37 pm

      Hi Ted,

      Thanks so much for your comment. I agree, it’s looking very derelict these days. I guess tearing it down and rebuilding would be more practical at this point, given its current state, but it’s still kind of sad to know that the original house won’t be there anymore, especially given its history. It was a little gem.

  • Audrey Black - Reply

    March 5, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    Thank you for this Kendra.
    It was a lovely house to start their married life and I can imagine Vivien excitedly arranging the decor in her creative and artistic way

    • Kendra - Reply

      March 5, 2016 at 5:53 pm

      I can also picture her decorating and Larry sitting there smoking his pipe and reading the paper and agreeing to whatever she suggests, haha.

  • kodis - Reply

    March 7, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    I couldn’t agree more, Kendra! If Vivien was happy, that’s all that mattered to Larry. Happy wife, happy life, ha! ha! Really enjoyed seeing this, but so sad about the state of Durham Cottage. It’s a shame no one wants to restore it.

  • kodis - Reply

    March 7, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    I couldn’t agree more Kendra! So long as Vivien was happy, that was ok with Larry. Happy wife, happy life! I totally loved this, thanks for sharing. So sad about Durham cottage though.

  • Keith Sohr - Reply

    May 14, 2016 at 4:31 am

    Thanks for posting Kendra. I love seeing how the house was laid out based on the pictures. I can’t believe the Kensington and Chelsea council would agree to the demolition of this site. How sad. I always believed London cherished its history. I first saw the property in 1993 from the street, but was awestruck by it.

  • IAN PAYNE - Reply

    June 9, 2016 at 8:27 am

    HOW SAD – THERE SHOULD BE A LAW WHICH MAKE THE ESTATE AGENT RESPONSIBLE FOR A PROPERTIES UPKEEP!!!

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