The beautiful Carrick Hill estate was the result of a marriage, in 1935, of members of two of Adelaide's most prominent families. Edward (Bill) Hayward was a son of the wealthy merchant family that for more than 100 years owned John Martin's Ltd, once Adelaide's greatest department store. Ursula Barr Smith, his bride, was a daughter of an even wealthier family of Scottish descent whose involvement in mining and pastoral activities was vital to the development of South Australia.
Ursula's father gave the couple the land on which Carrick Hill now stands as a wedding present. During their year-long honeymoon in England they acquired much of the seventeenth and eighteenth-century panelling, fireplaces, doors, windows and a grand staircase from the demolition sale of Beaudesert, a Tudor mansion in Staffordshire owned by the Marquess of Anglesey.
A family friend, Adelaide architect, James Irwin, designed the house around these fittings, and while the overall appearance is of a seventeenth-century English manor house, it incorporates all 'the latest' in 1930's technology. Oak panelling and pewter light fittings happily blend with heated towel rails, ensuite bathrooms and electric bell buttons (or pushes?) to summon servants.
Carrick Hill was under construction from 1937 to 1939, and at the same time, Ursula designed the garden. Ursula and Bill moved in during the winter of 1939, only to be torn apart soon after by the Second World War when Bill Hayward left to serve with distinction with the army in the Middle East, becoming one of the famous 'Rats of Tobruk' and the Pacific.
After the war, the Haywards continued filling the house with a wealth of paintings, sculpture, antiques and drawings spanning nearly 500 years of artistic achievement. This highly personalised collection is an interesting mix of Georgian and Victorian pieces, mostly inherited from Ursula's family as well as Jacobean oak furniture the couple collected to match the historic interior. In true English country house style the contemporary is set with the traditional and often quite avant-garde British, French and Australian paintings are arranged in subtle but dramatic juxtaposition.
Many of the artists represented in the collection were also close friends of the Haywards including Sir William Dobell, Sir Russell Drysdale, Sir Jacob Epstein as well as local identities such as Sir Hans Heysen and his daughter Nora Heysen , Ivor Hele, John Dowie, and Jeffery Smart.
Carrick Hill was just one of the Haywards’ four homes. They also spent time at their country property at Delamere, breeding Poll Hereford cattle and polo ponies; a beach house at Port Willunga; and a townhouse in Mayfair, London, conveniently located close to the art and antique dealers they used.
In 1961 Edward was knighted for his service to the community and to business and when Ursula was asked what it was like to be Lady Hayward she replied: ‘It was worse than having the measles!’