It was established by Charles Chesterton in 1805 when he was sent to Kensington by his father to start his own business. Charles became the agent for the Phillimore Estate in Kensington. Charles was also agent for the Phoenix Insurance Group, now part of Royal & Sun Alliance, a churchwarden and a prominent figure in the Kensington Vestry. The business was successfully continued by Charles’ son Arthur Chesterton who, in 1830 established Chesterton & Sons with his sons Edward and Sidney Rawlins and ownership remained in the family until 1980.
Since inception, the business has established itself as one of the leading residential agents in London. Throughout its history, it has been involved in significant property developments, including valuations of the three famous Kensington High Street stores, Derry & Toms, Pontings and Barkers in 1929. It boasts an impressive client base including notable celebrities, politicians and sports personalities such as Robbie Williams, Sharon Osbourne, Sir John Major and Sir Stirling Moss.
Chestertons acted as agents for the Phillimore Estate, the Church Commissioners and the Hyde Park Estate, and at one time managed over 735 acres in central London. Chestertons also played a major role in three industry institutions, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), College of Estate Management and the Chartered Auctioneers &
Estate Agents Institute, who merged with RICS in 1970. It also had two of its executives serve as president of RICS (Sir Henry Wells in 1965 and the last direct member of the Chesterton family, Sir Oliver Chesterton in 1968).
The quality and expertise of Chestertons’ people has always been pivotal in the success of the Group. Former staff members include Henry Murray Fox, Lord Mayor of London in 1974, Geoffrey Blake, who headed up a public enquiry into Stansted airport in 1965 and Henry Wells, commissioned by the Australian government to report on considerations for the building of Canberra in 1902-8. Throughout the 20th Century, Chestertons continued to expand and strengthen the brand in the London property market and internationally. At the end of the 1990s, Chestertons had become the largest UK real estate advisor and a leading force in the international property markets. The business operated from 158 offices within 36 different countries. The legacy of this market position is the ongoing recognition the Chestertons brand enjoys globally.
In 2005, Chestertons International (as it was then known) went into receivership following a series of poor acquisitions, shareholder disputes and high debt levels. This resulted in the collapse of the group and just eleven residential estate agency offices in Central London were left when the business was acquired by one of the current shareholders.
Under the leadership of Chief Executive, Robert Bartlett, hired in early 2006 to re-energise the business, and the current management team, the business grew to over 30 offices across London through a combination of greenfield openings and targeted acquisitions and developed a strong international business of 18 offices in over 12 countries and five continents. The Group has particularly focused its international growth within the Middle East.
In 2008, the Group merged with Humberts, who operated 34 offices around the UK. Humberts also owned the Farleys brand. In November 2013, the board decided to split the Group into two separate brands and businesses with Chestertons retaining the Farleys business.