Throughout his career, Cecil Beaton photographed some of the most notable figures in 20th-century fashion publications. His masterful portraiture work was groundbreaking, and to this day its influence is still felt in the pages of fashion photography publications. He was also a set and costume designer, most famously for the glorious costumes in My Fair Lady.
Reddish House is an exquisite example of the English country house. The illustrious property is situated in the lovely Wiltshire village of Broad Chalke set amongst totally unspoiled countryside in the Chalke Valley. The river to which the property has frontage, is a tributary of the River Avon which it joins just south of the Cathedral city of Salisbury.
Constructed of mellow red brick under a clay tile roof it exhibits a number of classical features including two Corinthian pilasters carrying a pediment and entablature over the front door and a bust (reputed to be of Charles II) and angle quoins.
For more than 30 years Reddish was to be Beaton’s home in the country and was host to a succession of visitors from the world of high society along with leading artists of the day. A single page in the visitors book shows both James Pope Hennessey (author of the widely applauded iography of Queen Mary) and Truman Capote (Breakfast at Tiffany’s) staying at the house.
Other visitors include David Hockney & Francis Bacon. One of the longest stays was the six weeks Greta Garbo spent at Reddish. Ms Garbo is considered one of the most iconic and glamorous actresses of the 20th-century. Beaton’s reputation in America also brought to stay any number of America’s high society, most notable among them Mr Charles B and Mrs Jayne Wrightsman of New York. Mrs Wrightsman, (much photographed by Cecil) who died in 2019 was a major benefactor to the Metropolitan Museum, New York City.
Cecil Beaton lived at Reddish House for 32 years, and when he died on January 17, 1980, three days after his 76th birthday, everything was sold at a two-day auction by Christie’s, held in a marquee on the lawn.
According to Country Life, the first to go under the hammer, before all the fine paintings and furniture, was the house itself, which was sold by Knight Frank and Rutley for £225,000 after only two bids. At the time, Strutt and Parker, who acted for the buyer, refused to disclose that it had been bought by Ursula, Countess of Chichester, the Dutch-born widow of the 8th Earl whose son was born posthumously in 1944.
In the 1930’s it was the home of the parents of British artist Christopher Wood, recognised now as one of our leading 20th-century artists. It has twice featured in editorial pages of Country Life, firstly in 1957 and the garden most recently in 2019.
If you want to own a part of history, you’ll have to be quick, as Reddish House is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful properties in English history.
The property is available for £4 million through Savills.