Mayfair Squatters Restored My Faith

Article excerpt

Byline: RICHARD GODWIN

THERE is something immensely satisfying in strolling through Mayfair, pitching up at an exclusive residence and bowling right in. For the past week, it has been possible for you and I to do this, as the residents of 39A Clarges Mews have been holding an open house (Clarges, I can only assume, is the way the locals pronounce "Claridge's").

All you must do to enter this magnificent Grade II*-listed property, valued at [pounds sterling]22.5 million, is ask the two men on the door. If you are willing to do a bit of DIY they'll probably let you stay for good or at least until they are booted out, which they reckon will happen in two weeks, as they are, of course, merely squatters.

"Squatting sounds so romantic doesn't it?" opines Casper on the Evening Standard website. "Yet these people are thieves, pure and simple. They should be removed immediately and jailed." Yet most commentators applaud their actions. The house has been unoccupied for over 25 years, and, though it was bought by an investment company called Timekeeper in 2006, has remained empty Timekeeper is apparently waiting for planning permission.

The dozen or so squatters, mostly former art students aged 19 to 23, moved in after being threatened with eviction from a nearby [pounds sterling]6 million property, and are now providing free classes for the community in welding, bookbinding and juggling making art and living on unwanted food taken from skips. …