Publication date: 1 May 2012
Category: Regional History
Coleton Fishacre was the weekend retreat of opera and hospitality impresario Rupert D’Oyly Carte, son of Richard, whose family company gave us the hugely popular operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan and owned both the Art Deco-furnished Savoy and Claridge’s hotels in London. In the 1920s Rupert and Lady Dorothy D’Oyly Carte were sailing along the south Devon coast. Looking for a country retreat, they were inspired to make this beautiful valley running down to the sea the site for an elegant home where they could entertain in style and indulge their passion for the outdoors. Designed and built by Oswald Milne and inspired by the Arts & Crafts movement, a former assistant to architect Edwin Lutyens, the house was built using local materials including stone quarried from the garden. It was the ideal location for relaxation, outdoor pursuits and entertaining. Amongst the many weekend guests were the conductor Sir Malcolm Sargent and the painter Charles Ricketts. Visitors would take part in bridge parties, shooting, fishing, sailing and spending time in Pudcombe Cove, a private beach at the bottom of the garden. Its magical setting, a 12-hectare (30-acre) garden, offers enticing glimpses out to sea, paths through tranquil glades, and tender plants from the Mediterranean, South Africa and New Zealand. This most evocative of holiday homes, built in the Arts and Crafts style, is imbued with 1920s elegance and an atmosphere of relaxed sophistication, still with all the appeal that first attracted Rupert to build it. This guide explores the Art Deco interiors of the house, life above and below stairs, the magnificent garden and terraces leading to the sea. It details the planning and planting of the garden, accompanied by bird’s eye view maps and house floor plans and stunning colour photography.