History - Hamilton Place
Leopold was a close friend of Edward VII, Prince of Wales and later king, and belonged to several of London's most famous clubs, including The Turf and The Jockey. Racing was one of Rothschild's great passions and for forty years he was one of the most prominent figures in the sport, winning the 1879 Derby with the colt Sir Bevys.
In 1881, at the age of 35, Rothschild married Marie Perugia of Trieste at the Central Synagogue, Great Portland Street. Leopold died in 1917 and No. 5 Hamilton Place faded from the spotlight. His widow Marie lived on in the house until her death in 1930.
The next owners were Captain Leonard Frank Plugge, a businessman and Conservative politician, and his wife, Ann Muckleston, who purchased the house in 1934. Plugge created the International Broadcasting Company in 1931 as a commercial rival to the BBC and lived at No. 5 Hamilton Place until 1950, when he sold the house to John Mills, a Polish man who had changed his name from Jean-Jean Millstein. He was allegedly the sole survivor of the Holocaust in the Polish town of Lodz.
For £40,000 Mills was able to secure the lease of Hamilton Place and there relocated Les Ambassadeurs, which, due to its extraordinary popularity with the "in set", had outgrown the current location. Over the coming years Les Ambassadeurs was home to various ventures, including The Milroy Nightclub, The Garrison Club and Le Cercle, one of London's first gaming clubs.
Mills led a fascinating life, an international businessman of Polish origin, he was rumoured to be a government intelligence agent. However the lines between fact and fiction are not always clear and even his son, Robert Mills, says it is difficult to separate truths, believing his parents set up Les Ambassadeurs Club as a testing ground to “see who could hold their liquor and who spoke freely”.