Evicted squatters move into £22m Mayfair mansion

Gerrard Winstanley office at evnuk.org.uk
Sat Jan 10 19:43:43 GMT 2009

Squatters evicted from £6.25m house find a new home... a Mayfair
mansion worth £22.5m

By Arthur Martin
Last updated at 10:49 PM on 09th January 2009

see links for nice pix and artwork

They had already taken over a £6.25million mansion - and it seems its
charms gave one group of squatters a taste for the high life.

After being evicted from the plush Mayfair property, they wasted no
time in finding an even more salubrious pad, worth £22.5million, round
the corner.

The squatters, a collective of well-spoken twenty-somethings who call
themselves the Temporary School of Thought, moved into their new home
at the end of November.

The mansion's owners realised the property was being used as a squat
when they spotted a Christmas tree in the window. They quickly
instructed solicitors to apply to a court for an eviction order.

However, their hopes of a speedy resolution were dashed yesterday when
the squatters were given a stay of execution.

During a hearing at Central London County Court, District Judge John
Taylor adjourned the case, demanding more evidence from the house's
owners, Timekeeper Ltd.

This means the group, who used to call themselves Da! Collective,
cannot be legally removed from the Grade II listed building until the
next hearing at the earliest, which is expected later this month.

Wearing scruffy clothes, the squatters, who claim they are artists,
hugged in celebration as they left the court.

Shortly before midday, a convoy of nine squatters returned to the
house on bicycles. They declined to talk to the waiting media about
their intentions.

One said: 'There are other issues in our world right now.'

The squatters display pictures of the house on their web-site. These
show off its antique wallpaper, large fireplaces and chandeliers.
Enlarge   The squatters, named as Tom Crouser-Smith, Stephanie Smith,
and 'Bob', pose in their previous property at Upper Grosvenor Street

This mansion is thought to be the sixth multi-million pound London
property the group have managed to occupy. Squatting is legal if entry
to an empty property is not forced, creating anything that constitutes
criminal damage.

Owners of an occupied building have to go to court to remove the
unwanted tenants.

The group is led by Stephanie Smith, 21, and Simon McAndrew-29. Their
current home sold in April 2007 for £22.5million.

Its owners claim the building was empty only while architects waited
for planning permission for renovations.

After the court hearing, Andrew Jeffrey, a solicitor for Timekeeper
Ltd, said the company was 'upset and distressed' by the outcome [and,
it appears, by their own incompetance ed.].

The squatters do not seem terribly concerned about the prospect of

They have been holding workshops and seminars on subjects from welding
to treehouse building.

Their website says the events will continue this weekend with a
session on 'labyrinth building with Steph' today.

On Sunday, there is bookbinding, role-playing and a talk on 'virtual
utopias', followed by a 'hardcore games night'.

Temporary School of Thought - Ligress blog

London has about 250 000 empty houses and about a quarter of them are
squatted. According to the Empty Homes Agency there were 804 000 empty
homes in the UK in April 1998. 
Whether the eviction threat was a push to open the squat to the
public, I don't know, but it's sure an interesting case. The squat is
currently hosting an open school that holds free lectures and classes
in anything from book binding and Polish history to cooking and life
drawing. The Temporary School of Thought is based on mutual sharing of
skills and knowledge by anyone who's willing to bring them there.
According to the squatters themselves, it's  `a space where people
come together to share knowledge, non-descript skills, tactical
imagination, creationism, passive action. A week long event of mutual
learning, leftwing bias, free lectures, inert radicalism, workshops,
discussion and film screenings.' 

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