cecil beaton reddish house

Cecil Beaton’s Reddish House is the quintessential English country escape

The photographer’s prized Salisbury home is now for sale

If you’re a fan of the celebrity homes genre of journalism you’ll know these palatial mansions tend to share a few things in common. Lots of glass to take in the views over Hollywood, Manhattan or the Thames, for example. Plenty of shiny surfaces, furniture in neutral tones, bold artworks and a faintly unlived in feel also tend to be mainstays of the second or third homes the rich and famous are willing to allow the cameras into.

Not so with Reddish House. This exquisite Queen Anne country house in Salisbury is all about history, provenance and the tradition that comes with being a Grade II-listed property. Built in 1599, so complete are the house’s archives that original documents allow the curious to trace its descent over 380 years – and it’s quite the story.

Although its early owners remain unknown, despite the original deeds remaining intact, the house was rebuilt by clothier Jeremiah Cray and mercer John Coombs between 1717 and 1720, while it had its first brush with fame in the 1930s as the home of the parents of illustrious British artist Christopher Wood. Beaton, the photographer most famous for his portraits of the Royal family and his numerous fashion shoots for Vogue, purchased the house in 1947 after being introduced to it by the writer Edith Olivier and artist Rex Whistler.

Beaton would call Reddish House home for more than three decades and in that time entertained a string of high profile guests there. Among the great and the good of the mid-20th Century arts and literary names to have graced the home are Truman Capote, David Hockney and Francis Bacon while Hollywood star Greta Garbo is known to have enjoyed her visit to Reddish House so much she stayed for six weeks.

In modern times, the property has been sensitively updated to offer 21st Century conveniences while retaining the home’s period charm. A glorious red brick and clay tile roof exterior opens into a light filled reception hall with fireplace and impressive Italian marble columns while the ground floor also plays home to a cosy sitting room, a spacious kitchen and a Carriage room perfect for use as a library, office, media room or bedroom.

A shallow staircase leads to a mezzanine level with a large library and a stunning drawing room which has been extended to showcase its gently curving walls and period pillars. An elegant winter garden leads from the drawing room to a dining room, complete with butler’s pantry and dumb waiter, while a bedroom and bathroom can also be found on this level.

reddish house

Up another flight of stairs, the first floor master bedroom comes equipped with a large bathroom and dressing room while, up one more level, the attic floor could be used as an occasional guest bedroom and boasts an unusual bathroom set in the original cock fighting cages.

Situated within nearly six acres of grounds, Reddish House also offers guest accommodation in the form of two cottages that have been carefully restored to allow for single or multiple occupancy. A further four en suite bedrooms, kitchen, drawing room, dining room, utility, snug and gym make for the perfect self-contained home, allowing guests privacy and space to entertain.

“It is without question one of the most beautiful houses in England with all the benefits of village life and all the privacy of a somewhere more isolated, in short the best of all worlds,” says Savills agent Lindsay Cuthill of the home’s prime position in the village of Broad Chalke. The property’s careful placement allows it to take advantage of acres of landscaped gardens, including expansive lawns, ancient yews, a greenhouse, kitchen garden, fruit cages and a rose and peony garden planted by Beaton himself. We can’t think of anywhere else we’d rather wile away a long summer afternoon.

This Cape Town home is pure architectural inspiration…

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