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President Eisenhower’s secret London D-Day retreat on sale for £10.5 million

·2-min read
 (Harrods Estates)
(Harrods Estates)

A mansion in the grounds of General Eisenhower’s secret London retreat where he escaped the crushing pressures of planning for D-Day has gone on sale for £10.5 million.

The seven-bedroom house shares the same name – Telegraph Cottage – as the now demolished leafy Kingston bolthole where the future two-term US President lived from 1942 to 1945.

During that time the military chief universally known as Ike served as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and was put in charge of preparing for Operation Overlord, the biggest marine invasion in history.

He rented the isolated cottage in 10 acres of gardens and woodlands on Coombe Hill after initially being billeted in the suite of a central London hotel where he found it hard to unwind.

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower makes a V for Victory with two pens used for the signing of Germany's unconditional surrender at Reims, in 1945AP
Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower makes a V for Victory with two pens used for the signing of Germany's unconditional surrender at Reims, in 1945AP

There he entertained senior service figures such as Field Marshall Montgomery, as well as his driver Kay Summersby with whom he had a close romantic relationship – and possibly affair – during the war.

In her memoirs she later wrote: “The cottage was so secret that very few people knew it existed, and even fewer knew where it was.

“It had five tiny bedrooms and a really old-fashioned bathroom. Each bedroom had its own basin and pitchet and yes, commode.

“There was no central heating, but between the fireplace in the living room, and the big old stove in the kitchen, we were always very comfortable. There was only one telephone. A direct line to headquarters, this was in the General’s bedroom.”

The swimming pool at the new cottageHarrod’s Estates
The swimming pool at the new cottageHarrod’s Estates

When Ike took up painting to relieve stress on the advice of Churchill one of his creations was an oil colour of Telegraph cottage dedicated to a loyal aide, Master Sgt John Moaney, who would go on to serve with the general when he became President.

Within days of victory in Europe Ike flew to England and went straight to Telegraph Cottage with champagne for a private VE celebrations. He intended to buy the cottage, and drew up the alterations he would make there but his political career in America stopped them ever being realised.

In the garden he grew marrows and beans and would take sack fulls over to France after D-Day, while the shed was turned into a make-shift war operations room.

The cottage burned down and was demolished in the 1980s. The 12,476-sq-ft newly built house is one of six built on the historic plot of land.

It has four reception rooms, including an orangery, a 35ft long swimming pool, cinema room and gym.

Shaun Drummond, director of sales at Harrods Estates, said: “Although this property is called Telegraph cottage and it is full of Surrey charm, the name ‘cottage’ does not do justice to this seven-bedroom mansion.

“Located close to Coombe Hill Golf Club and within walking distance of Richmond Park, it is presidential in its scale and finish, with fabulous entertaining space and a swimming pool, gym and cinema room to impress your guests.”

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