News24

Squatters live near Iron Lady

2009-09-30 22:22

London - Squatters have taken over a multi-million pound house in a plush district of central London, doors away from the home of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The group have vowed to stay in the three-storey mansion in Chester Square, in the Belgravia district, where homes are currently on sale for up to £12.5m.

"We knew it was really close to Margaret Thatcher's house. It's hard to believe we've ended up living so near someone like that," one of the group, a builder who gave his name as Jake Tag, told London's Evening Standard paper.

Celeb homes

Chester Square has also been home to celebrities such as Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club, while Frankenstein author Mary Shelley lived there for a period in the mid-19th century.

"This is the richest place to live in London. Living here is a dream come true. We're going to keep the place clean and tidy and we won't do any damage," Tag said.

"It's all perfectly legal and we just want to set up a nice home in an abandoned house."

The squatters put up a notice on the gates of the house warning that "we live in this property, it is our home and we intend to stay here", and saying they will prosecute anyone who tries to forcibly remove them.

Cup of tea, Maggie?

They have reportedly even invited Thatcher, who led Britain from 1979 until 1990 and is now in her 80s, around for a cup of tea.

Filmmaker Mark James, 44, who has been producing a documentary about the squatters, said: "Margaret Thatcher has a 24-hour diplomatic security detail and nobody has noticed these squatters moving in so close to her house."

He told the Standard the squatters came from all over the world "and are here because they can't afford rent."

Entirely legal

"I'm sure residents including Margaret Thatcher won't be entirely happy with their new neighbours but these people are not going to do any damage, will keep the place tidy and are there entirely legally," James said.

Squatting in posh London houses is becoming something of a fashion, apparently fuelled by the downturn.

Earlier this month, a group of artists calling themselves The Oubliette took over the former Mexican embassy in the Mayfair district, transforming it into a cultural centre comprising a theatre, exhibition space and even a bar.

AFP