Vivien Leigh

Young Vivien Leigh in a dress

124 Eyre Court, Finchley Road

The apartment on Eyre Court belonged to Leigh Holman and Vivien moved in there after the two got married and came back from their honeymoon.

It was of average size, had two big rooms, a small one, a kitchen and a bathroom.

When Vivien and her husband swapped it for a bigger one, their good friend Hamish Hamilton moved in.

6 Little Stanhope Street, Mayfair

After Vivien's child Suzanne was born, the couple came to an agreement that their flat at Eyre Court is too small for the needs of an expanding family and started checking out other properties.

As they did not have too much money at the time, they had to settle for something cheap. The one they agreed on was not pretty, and it seemed a bit like it is falling apart. This wasn't surprising, given that it was built in the year 1700.

On top of that, it was narrow and thus slightly claustrophobic . But it was still considerably bigger than their first one and it had one more thing going for it: a famous actress Lynn Fontanne (Wiki) used to live there!

It was during the time that Viv lived there that she fell in love with Laurence Olivier. The stage actor's first wife Jill Esmond even later came there to try and save her marriage, but to no avail.

After Vivien moved out to start living with her new-found love, Leigh and Suzanne continued to live there.

Things changed when the World War 2 broke out. Suzanne was sent across the Atlantic Ocean and Leigh Holman moved out and began renting it.

The war did not spare the place. One day, a bomb fell down right at it and converted it to ashes almost entirely.

Durham Cottage, 4 Christchurch Street

Right as Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier announced their married others that they are in love, they left their homes and moved into Durham Cottage.

Poor-looking backyard of the Durham Cottage

The house was small, cozy and was another one with a bit of history, being built in the XVIIth century.

Even though it was a humble place, the pair did not care one bit about making a bad impression on the more snobby individuals and quickly began inviting people left and right. Despite the limited size, one party saw 70 guests arriving!

During the World War II, the place was hit by a bomb. The sight of it was truly depressing and the pair witnessed it first-hand after coming to the UK from the USA.

Bringing it back to a functional state was being postponed over and over again, especially that there was no pressure to make it so, as the pair had other places to live in.

At some point, it got fixed though, continuing to serve the couple for the next 20 years.

Inside that period, it was visited by the majority of who's who of the British theatre and cinema.

Current owner of Durham Cottage bought it for £6.8 million in 2015.


During the war, this house in Warsash served as a temporary place for Vivien and Laurence.

It was another small and cozy place, in the Victorian style, partly furnished. It certainly required some work to make it fully usable.

When Olivier was not serving in the military base, he came to that house to spend as much time with his beloved as he could. A hired cook also lived there for the time being.

Worthy Down

As Laurence got reassigned to another military base (Worthy Down), he and Viv also had to change their temporary home. It wasn't a particularly taxing relocation, as the two towns are just 25 miles apart.

This time, it was Vivien being the rarer visitor, managing her duties as best she could to join Olivier.

Notley Abbey

Notley Abbey was a beautiful and haunting mansion with an amazing history. It was both Vivien's and Laurence's most-beloved property.

A pavement leading to the beautiful Notley Abbey mansion

The place was built by Henry II's orders in the XIIIth century. After a period of neglect, Henry V came to its rescue, ordering renovation. More than hundred years later, Henry VIII stayed there on multiple occasions.

Both the building itself and the surrounding land were huge. Inside, there were twenty-two rooms, with multiple bedrooms to accommodate potential visitors. Outside, sixty-nine acres of greenfield begged to do something about it.

Olivier was the one who discovered it and he instantly fell in love. Same can't be said about Viv, which saw a ruin that will consume every penny they have and perhaps even then will remain in desperate need for more investments.

On top of that, her mental condition was even worse than the state the building was in, so such a draining challenge she didn't feel up to.

The actress let Olivier know that something smaller, cheaper and cozier might seem more appropriate, but his mind was already set and there was no talking him out of it.

Fortunately, her attitude changed quickly. After she got seriously ill with tuberculosis and had to spend nearly a year in a house to return to health, at first the star thought Notley Abbey to be her prison, but with time she got very attached to it.

As opposed to all of the pair's previous homes, this one was a huge beast radiating with splendor and luxury. They no longer had to be making sure that there is enough room for everyone invited to parties.

Taking advantage of the possibilities, when most restoration works were done, they began throwing gigantic parties. In London and its surrounding area, Notley Abbey became one of the few prime destinations of lavish dinners and celebrations.

Some of the famous people who came at least once: Alexander Korda, Marlene Dietrich, Orson Welles, Michael Redgrave, Rachel Kempson, Robert Helpmann, Alan Dent, Olivia de Havilland, Katharine Hepburn and Tennessee Williams.

When Leigh and Olivier's marriage was coming to its end, Olivier, the person so enthusiastic about the property, became a rare guest within those walls. Knowing that they will probably never again live happily together under one roof, Leigh put Notley Abbey on the market.

Pretty quick, a married couple from Canada made a solid offer and Oliviers decided to sell. In February 1960, the possession changed its owners.

Lowndes Cottage, Belgravia

Even though the pair was so attached to their house Durham Cottage, they decided to sell if after two decades of ownership.

Now needing another roof over their heads, they started leasing Lowndes Cottage until 1956.

Older readers hungry for gossip might remember the place, as it was right in front of it that a press was called in to announce that Vivien Leigh is pregnant with Laurence Olivier.

Snedens Landing

The couple's next on the long list of properties was Located in Palisades, by the Hudson River, near New York.

A white house with black curtains surrounded by vegetation

For many decades, Palisades is an exclusive area occupied by a plethora of Hollywood stars. The place's main strengths are that it has a beautiful view and that it's close to the big city, but yet far enough to give its property owners a peace of mind. No crazy traffic, no fans lining up for autographs, no paparazzis.

An extra incentive in case of the property the Oliviers vacated was that it had actually been a barn that got converted to a house in the year 1860.

Their first contact with it had been back when Vivien was making tests for Rebecca. Together, they came there for the weekend to Katherine Cornell who was renting the property at the time. Enchanted by the place, they soon rented it themselves.

One of the main reasons why the couple rented the house was that there was an airfield nearby and Olivier was in the process of training to become a pilot.

It was in that house that Jack Merivale found himself in a bit of a pickle when paying the couple a visit, back when Viv and him were still only friends.

54 Eaton Square

The Eaton Square flat was bought out of necessity, as the couple needed a place of their own to stay in when they were visiting London (at the time, they lived in the USA).

It certainly wasn't a place that got filled with positive memories. It's during the time that they owned it that the final split in the marriage of the Oliviers happened. Shortly before divorce Laurence moved out and did not bother to come even for occasional visits, leaving the actress alone in there.

Still, maybe it did not serve the actor, but it continued serving his ex-wife and her new boyfriend Jack Merivale. Eaton Square and Tickerage Mill were their two main houses between which they spent large majority of their nights together, even if Eaton Square was just "that other house" they had.

It was in 54 Eaton Square that Vivien Leigh was found dead by Merivale one morning.

Tickerage Mill

Bought in February 1961, renovated for two months and finally moved into on April 27 of the same year.

A side look at the Tickerage Mill

Dirk Bogarde was the man who let Vivien know about this property and tried to convince her to buy it. It certainly had a charm about it, being Queen Anne style and surrounded by a picturesque countryside landscape.

The renovation period was rushed, as there was plenty to do and the actress wanted to move in as soon as possible. The garden had to be literally built from the ground up and there Leigh did most of work herself.

The place had an enormous value for the female star, as it was there that she settled down with Merivale, stabilizing her life (and her mind) after the turbulent period of divorce and strong episodes of mental illness that accompanied it.

Both in Tickerage Mill and in relationship with Jack, Vivien found herself at home and felt as good as she hasn't felt in a long time.

As usual, that house also saw plenty of parties full of dozens and dozens of famous faces.

It being her true late-life home, it was no surprise that she chose her cremated remains to be scattered across the pond belonging to the property, which of course raised its price considerably.