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Tuesday, October 6, 1998 Published at 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK


Saved: Coward's room with a view

The inside of Coward's flat, including the stage he built

Rosie Millard reports from Coward's old flat
The London home of playwright Noel Coward has become a listed building - after it was threatened by building work being carried out on the house next door.

The flat in Chelsea, where he wrote much of his most famous work from 1930 to 1956, was listed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport after its American owner feared the adjacent development would ruin the flat.

[ image: Noel Coward: Lived in Chelsea from 1930 to 1956]
Noel Coward: Lived in Chelsea from 1930 to 1956
The playwright, who died in 1973, made several alterations to the flat, adding a stage for rehearsals and a fixed desk for his writing.

It has changed little since he left it to live in tax exile.

Owner Maggie Pierce said: "I saw the blue plaque outside the house when my husband bought it, and I always assumed it had been listed.

"So it came as a complete shock when I found out that it wasn't."

Originally a coach house

[ image: The former coach house in Chelsea]
The former coach house in Chelsea
The building was originally a late 19th century coach house and hayloft, and was converted into two flats in the early part of this century.

Arts Minister Alan Howarth, who awarded the house a Grade II listing, said: "This house was the home of a man widely regarded as one of British theatre's most gifted writers and entertainers.

"His alterations to the flat reflect the particular style of English life that his work both celebrates and teases.

"It is also fitting that Sir Noel's home should be listed in time for the centenary of his birth next year."

Coward wrote 50 plays, 25 films and hundreds of songs, poems and stories.

His most famous works include A Room with a View, Private Lives, and A Song at Twilight.

The listing now means that any alterations would require special approval, and the building is likely to be preserved indefinitely.

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