Carrick Hill is a historic house quite unlike any other. Built in the 1930s by Ursula and Edward Hayward, it houses treasures bought on their honeymoon in England from the demolished Beaudesert Estate in Staffordshire. Explore the rooms and interiors here...
Queen Elizabeth II, Sir Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh…. everyone who has ever formally visited the house has entered through this enticing ante hall. The period lighting, historic oak panelling and sword displays set a tone of promise and expectation for the Tudor interiors to be discovered beyond. Featured paintings, artworks and fine furniture give a sense of the richness of the collections which span 500 years of artistic achievement.
This soaring hall is the heart of CarrickHill. It features the impressive ‘Waterloo Staircase’ which was long thought to be from the reign of James I (1566-1625), though its main elements are likely from the later reign of George V (1865-1936) as renovations occurred. Under the direction of the Haywards, these elements were reconfigured to suit the visions they had of their own home – Carrick Hill.
Regarding its moniker, around 1815 its owner, the Marquess of Anglesey, replaced Beaudesert’s original Jacobean staircase with one of cast iron and oak with broad treads and shallow risers. Upon completion, it has been said that he then hung a large painting depicting the famous battle of Waterloo in pride of place at the top of the staircase. This was a very personal touch to the home’s interior because the Marquess was present at the battle. He was second-in-command to Lord Wellington and sustained serious injury whilst there.
This is the room that most evokes the seventeenth century in its architecture and design, with wall panelling and furniture all made from British oak. The Haywards loved entertaining which included intimate yet formal dinner parties hosted in this historic space.
While the collection pieces and dining room settings rotate seasonally, one curious item in the room that remains forever in place is the dining table. While centuries old, this table is allegedly a piece of movie memorabilia. It has been said that it was featured in Alexander Korda’s 1933 film The Private Life of Henry VIII, the first British made film to win one of Hollywood’s esteemed Academy Awards. Charles Laughton received the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance as England’s infamous Tudor King, Henry VIII.
Dressed in their finest dinner ensembles, guests would be treated to excellent food and wine, and be entertained by the Hayward’s demonstrations of the most innovative and tasteful kitchen gadgets, such as their C.W Ottoway & Co. sterling silver nutcracker vices.
The library houses a superb collection of books reflecting the Haywards wide-ranging interests in art, history, gardening, polo, games, music and literature. Many are written by, or about, important figures who became close friends of the Haywards, such as Sir William Dobell, Geoffrey Dutton, Sir Jacob Epstein, and Sir Lionel Lindsay. Tragically, this room was gutted by fire in 1958 (reportedly, due to a faulty appliance) but was meticulously recreated as close as possible to its original appearance. After 1960, when dining alone, the Haywards often had their dinner on a tray in the library, in front of the tv.
The drawing room was the scene of many parties. The Haywards welcomed influential and inspiring guests including actors Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, concert pianist Claudio Arrau, the art critic Sir Kenneth Clark, painters Jeffrey Smart and Sir Russell Drysdale, and countless others.
Many visitors are immediately drawn to the impressive, black gloss of the Bechstein piano, which was often in use during the Hayward’s light hearted soirees and for their intimate private concerts. Bechstein’s instruments are valued greatly amongst musicians due to the company’s fine craftsmanship, high quality materials and its long history. Coveted in concert halls and private houses, Bechstein’s pianos have been used by classical artists, as well as contemporary musicians like Paul McCartney, Freddie Mercury, and Elton John.
This intimate “morning room”, so called as the sun floods into it before noon, is where Ursula Hayward would have met senior servants to organise the running of the house, devising menus for dinner parties and bedroom preparations for guests. It is also where she practised her needlepoint embroidery and her Tudor rose designs such as those she made to feature on the dining room chairs.
This room features one of our most unique service sets. Used especially for desserts, the dishes on either side of the fireplace were produced in Staffordshire, UK, by leading porcelain manufacturer Samuel Alcock & Co. The factory produced pieces from 1828-1859 and were renowned for the fine quality of their bone china and vibrant designs. The Hayward’s apple green and gold trimmed set, with its exquisitely painted floral design, is an excellent example of the craftsmanship during this era.
The intricate plasterwork featuring the Tudor rose and impressive oak tester bed immediately capture your attention when entering this bedroom. The Lalique glass used for the ceiling light fittings here - and on display in the dining room - highlights Ursula Hayward’s love of French design.
While the house is modelled architecturally on an English manor house of the 1600s, the Haywards integrated modern comforts beautifully amongst this history. This bathroom features art deco tiles, a full-size glass shower, heated towel rails and other fashionable fittings necessary in a luxurious 1930s home.
One such feature is the electric bell situated alongside the enamel bath. Linked to an indicator board mounted in the house’s lower corridor, adjacent to the kitchen, the Hayward’s could call for staff assistance from anywhere in the house – even from this rather private space. Whether it was help with styling before the day’s activities or simply a light refreshment whilst relaxing, requests could be granted at the push of a button.