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How to get the KGB and MI5 to Fund your Renovations

Espionage afficionados – whether fans of James Bond or the novels of John le Carré – will love this house in London’s upmarket Chelsea. It is the former home of Greville Wynne, one of Britain’s top spies and a key man in MI5 and later MI6. In fact, 19 Upper Cheyne Row played a key role in shaping the events of the Cold War.

Wynne conducted secret meetings in this five-bedroom Grade II listed house with KGB informant Colonel Oleg Penkovsky, whose revelations played a major role in assisting the US during the Cuban missile crisis. Gatekeeper to critical Russian military information but secretly a British informant, Penkovsky was notoriously wary of meeting in public (correctly so, as he was eventually discovered and executed by the KGB in 1963) and would only meet with Wynne at his family home.

Both men enjoyed a drink and, during these meetings, they hatched a plan to construct a private bar in the four-storey house. They set out to convince their respective agencies – the KGB and MI5 – to fund its construction at Wynne’s home, each arguing that this would lead the other one to spill vital information once suitably seasoned with booze. Continue reading...

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