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Tuesday, October 6, 1998 Published at 16:22 GMT 17:22 UK


Coward's home gets centenary listing

Noel Coward: A byeword for suave sophistication

Noel Coward's London home, where he wrote many of his most famous plays, has been listed as a building of "special historic interest" by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

BBC Arts Correspondent Rosie Millard: "The leading playwright of the day"
Announcing the addition of 17 Gerald Road near Sloane Square to the prestigious list, Arts Minister Alan Howarth said: "It is fitting that Sir Noel's home should be listed in time for the Centenary of his birth next year."

Coward lived in the house - a converted 19th century coach house - from 1930 to 1956 and renovated it in his own "whimsical" style, installing Georgian interior panelling, wrought ironwork, a staircase and book cases.

He also built a stage for reheasals and private performances and added a fixed desk at which he wrote the majority of his celebrated revues and plays.

'Witty ditties'

Mr Howarth said Coward's house "reflects the particular style of English life that his work both celebrates and teases".

Coward was an accomplished actor, playwright, composer, lyricist, author and producer, but it is probably as a cabaret performer, playwright and composer of "witty ditties" that he remains best known.

Virginia Woolf once described Coward as "clever as a bag of ferrets and trivial as a perch of canaries". His best known songs include Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Mad About the Boy, Some Day I'll Find You and I'll See You Again.

Coward left his home in London in 1956 and moved to Jamaica, where he built a small retreat called Firefly Hill.

The house has since been designated a museum, and has become one of Jamaica's top tourist attractions.

The house at 17 Gerald Road has been given a Grade II listing, which will ensure that any future renovations or alterations take into account its historical significance.

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