DiCamillo Companion


  • Earlier Houses: There was an earlier house on the site of the current house.

    Built / Designed For: Frank Parkinson

    House & Family History: Charters was built for Frank Parkinson (1887-1946), chairman of the very successful electrical firm Crompton Parkinson, at a cost of £140,000. Parkinson was born in Yorkshire of humble origins, won a scholarship to Leeds University for evening lectures in electrical engineering, and started own firm, which eventually became Crompton Parkinson. The extremely Modern Movement style house was built of expensive Portland stone, not the more common concrete, while the interiors were furnished in a traditional style, supposedly because Mrs. Parkinson hated the modern style. Charters is a rectangular house with a flat roof and a south side that stretches to 128 feet. The south facade has five windows that span the full height of the house, separated by five stone pillars with a simple portico. Windows on the east-south elevation are wrap-around, with no corner support. The north side has two short wings that project forward, joined by a flat roof over the entrance. There is a service wing to the north. Each slab of the Portland stone facing is one foot 10 inches; windows and pillars are exact multiples of this, and each window pane is the same size as the slab. There is a roof terrace with railings (to give a nautical feel) and a sheltered sleeping area, which shows the 1930s love of outdoor life. The entrance hall is 31 feet x 19 feet, with marble floors and a marble staircase; the main hall is 32 feet x 35 feet x 32 feet and has tall windows and a sprung dance floor. There is also a drawing room, dining room, library, boudoir, morning room, many bedrooms, and a wonderful bathroom with peach marble walls and gold taps—said to be the most enviable bathroom in England. Charters had the latest electrical devices—hot air ducts for heating that could also cool in summer, hot water pipes buried in the marble floors of the bathrooms, vacuum connections in each room to remove dust, concealed lighting, and the only dishwasher in a private house in England in 1938. Despite all this the house still needed 10 indoor servants! After World War II the Duke and Duchess of Windsor stayed with the Parkinsons on one of their infrequent visits to England. In 1949 Charters was sold to Sir Montague Burton, who owned the retail firm of Burtons of Leeds, more famously known as the "Fifty Shilling Tailors," but later as "The Tailor of Taste." Charters was subsequently sold to George Valli, founder of Valliant luxury coach, and his daughter, Cecilia Zandona. In 1959, after only 21 years as a country house, Charters was sold to Vickers Research and became research and development offices. In 1975 the house was sold to De Beers Industrial Diamond Division. In 2005 Charters was purchased by Sabre Developments, who converted the house into seven apartments and built two new apartment buildings, the court and garden house. In 2008 the 34 two-and-three bedroom apartments in 20 acres of landscaped gardens were completed and sold. (We are grateful to Bridget Clarke for kindly providing much of this history of Charters).

  • Architect: Adie, Button & Partners

    Date: 1938
    Designed: House

    View all houses
  • Country Life: XCVI, 904, 948 plan, 992, 1944.

  • House Listed: Grade II

    Park Listed: Not Listed

  • Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: Frank Parkinson, 1936-49. Sir Montague Burton, 1949-55. George Valli and daughter Cecilia Zandona, until 1959.

    Current Ownership Type: Flat Owners Company / Condo Association

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Flats / Multi Family

  • House Open to Public: No

    Historic Houses Member: No