Monday, February 11, 2013

Film Director Joe Wright Sells Up in Spitalfields

SELLER: Joe Wright
LOCATION: London (Spitalfields), U.K.
PRICE: £2,645,000
SIZE: 3,123 square feet, 2 bedrooms (plus two studio spaces), 2 full and 2 half bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Thanks to one of Your Mama's savvy property snitches on the ground in London—we call him Harry Hound—we've learned that English movie director Joe Wright has quietly sold his three centuries old red brick row house in East London's arty-farty Spitalfields area for $2,645,000 to another well-known star of stage and screen.

Mister Wright, the son of a couple of puppeteers, started up his ladder of Showbiz fame and fortune in the late '90s and early 2000s directing short films and mini-series for the boob toob (The Last King, Bob & Rose). In the mid-Aughts he made the shift to feature films and in the last six or seven years has directed a healthy handful of sometimes well-regarded and sometimes harshly criticized movies including The Soloist, Atonement and Pride & Prejudice, a period piece adaption of the venerable Jane Austen novel of the same name. Mister Wright's most recent cinematic endeavor is the ambitious and currently in theaters Anna Karenina, a fantastical reinterpretation of Leo Tolstoy's epic novel of the same name that's been nominated for four Academy Awards. Mister Wright clearly has a bit of a thing for photogenic English actress Keira Knightley who has starred in three of his last five films.

In the fall of 2010 Mister Wright married Grammy-nominated sitarist and composer Anoushka Shankar and together have one child. Miz Shankar is, of course, the daughter of legendary and very recently deceased composer and musician Ravi Shankar and the paternal half-sister of nine-time Grammy winning songstress Norah Jones who, as it turns out, accepted a much deserved Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of her father at last night's Grammys.

Anyhoo, information provided to Your Mama by Harry Hound shows Mister Wright picked up the Georgian-style digs in Spitalfields in March 2008 for £2,150,000. That's $3,395,770 at today's rates for all us Americans. Mister Wright and his musically accomplished missus sold the house in the latter days of 2012 for £2,645,000, an amount that converts to 4,177,590 U.S. dollars at today's rates.

While Your Mama can't prove, our man Harry Hound swears the boho crib was bought by award winning Welsh actor and singer Jonathan Pryce (the Pirates of the Carribbean franchise, Glengarry Glen Ross and—our personal favorite—Brazil). As lauded and applauded for his work on the stage as for his admiarable versatility on the silver screen, Mister Pryce  has won two Tony Awards, first for Comedians (1977) and then for the long-running musical Miss Saigon (1991).

In February 2010 Mister Wright gave an interview in the London Evening Standard in which he revealed his house in the once gritty now gentrified—and increasingly pricey—Spitalfields area was originally built in 1726 by the French and the floor plan included with the links to digital materials forwarded by Harry Hound shows it measures in at around 3,126 square feet and, in its current configuration, has two proper bedrooms, two bathrooms and two large semi-detached studio spaces, each with a half bathroom.

More high-nosed real estate snobs and snobettes may prefer some of London's nattier nabes like Knightsbridge or Knotting Hill but, truth be told,Your Mama rather prefers the much more funky—if hardly inexpensive—East London location of Mister Wright's former residence. Not only does Spitalfields not have that sheen of obvious wealth that can be both mesmerizing and off-putting, it's conveniently located a couple short blocks from all the curry joints on Brick Lane and just around the corner from the historic Old Spitalfields Market where seven days a week artisans, hipsters and hipster artisans hawk their various wares to other hipsters, artisans and hipster artisans.

While we do prefer a house have a proper entrance hall, the floor plan for Mister Wright's former residence shows the street level entry opens directly into a snug but inviting open-plan dining area and kitchen with wonderfully well-worn wide-plank wood floors. The compact dining area has a large fireplace that may or may not be functional and connects to the kitchen over an extra-wide peninsula.

The rustic but well equipped and clearly custom fitted galley style kitchen—Harry Hound says it may very well be a very top end Chalon designed situation—has gray Shaker-style cabinetry, gray subway tile back splash and butcher block counter tops. There seems to be plenty of under-counter storage space but besides the opens shelves fitted into what was once a fireplace there seems to be a dearth of shelves for storage for tableware, food stuffs and other necessary kitchen knick-knacks. We're also not quite sure where the fridge or freezer is located but we'll guess they're tucked under the counter in the extra-wide peninsula that separates the kitchen from the dining area.

The second floor main living spaces—both wrapped in dark, brooding wood paneling that looks to be about as old as the house itself—include a street-facing sitting room with (possibly functioned) fireplace and an smaller adjoining den/lounge where the Wright-Shankar couple have had a whimsical forest mural painted above a row of built-in shelves jam-packed with toys for their toddler age tot.

There's a good-sized guest/family bedroom with built-in wardrobes on the second floor as well as a spacious hall bathroom with a single pedestal sink and a tub/shower combination. One more flight up, on the top floor, is the loft-like master suite, a full-floor sweep of space with more well-worn wide plank wood floors, another (possibly functioning) fireplace and windows on both ends that bathe the room in urban light. While we appreciate the airiness the vaulted ceilings and exposed wood beams bring to the master bedroom, Your Mama was utterly mortified to find a free-standing claw-footed bathtub and puny pedestal sink set out in the open, right next to the bed. Who, children, wants to sleep in such unimpeded proximity to their damn bathtub or bathe ? Fortunately, the floor plan shows the toilet was set into a separate—if claustrophobic—cubicle of its own so at least there's a modicum privacy when it comes to having a tinkle or a squat.

A picayune, vine enshrouded interior courtyard, accessible from a rear hall on the ground floor, connects the main house to a large but almost windowless ground floor studio space with attached half bathroom. An exterior stair in the courtyard makes a tight curl up to narrow wrought iron balcony that provides access to a second studio that also has an attached half bathroom but also has a bit more light and air due to the steel-framed glass doors at the back that open to a small, brick-walled courtyard.

Besides the Wright/Shankar clan and now Mister Pryce, Spitalfields has long attracted artists types who include novelist and deli-owner Jeanette Winterson, entrepreneurial YBA artist Tracey Emin and art world grand poobahs Gilbert & George.

listing photos and floor plan: Rightmove


Lilithcat said...

There does seem to be a trend towards having free-standing bathtubs in the master bedroom. I think it's a silly trend that can't end soon enough!

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DC Guy said...

"Your Mama was utterly mortified to find a free-standing claw-footed bathtub and puny pedestal sink set out in the open, right next to the bed."

You and me both, Mama. You and me both.

KittyClaws said...

beautiful! so unusual

Troy said...

Fucking love it round there

Anonymous said...

Forget the bathtub faux pas, Mama, Joe Wright's crimes against Ms Austen and her divine dialogues are enough to condemn him to a fiery hell.


Simone said...

great dark color scheme on the wood panels in the main living area. don't quite understand why the rug is on the wall and not the floor
very chic and shi-shi house though
thankyou mamma

Anonymous said...

Spitalfields 'gritty' past: think Jack the Ripper playground. The fronts of the houses seem to date from that time.

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Helen said...

These houses are much earlier than Jack the Ripper; most of Spitalfields was built in the 17th century. The interiors of Joe Wright's house are very disappointing and bland. The panelling will all be original, and will be very strictly preserved, but it's been painted in a very dark and flat shade. If you want to see what Spitalfields houses can look like, do a Google Image search for 'dennis severs house'.

Cindy Woo said...

I disagree entirely. That Denise woman's house is too old looking - it's like a theatre set or a museum - no one could ever live in that house. Wrights on the other hand is a beautiful mix of color and texture that creates an atmosphere of comfort and homeliness. I'd love to curl up on the sofa in that dark panelled room and lose myself in pride and prejudice or watch Anna kadoodle whilst sipping some vodka. I think it's amazing and that kitchens cool

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