Eyot House, WeybridgeEyot House, D'Oyly Carte Island, Weybridge
Rosanna Greenstreet explores the interesting origins of a property on the Thames
Having lived in two old shops and a former pub, I am always intrigued by properties with an interesting backstory.
My first house was in Silsoe in Bedfordshire and it had originally been the village Co-Op. I was thrilled to discover a cache of tin tokens in the attic and to uncover an old shop sign on an exterior wall.
When I moved from Bedfordshire to Hampshire, I chose to live in what had once been The Fox, the pub in the village of Overton. Older residents would sometimes bang on my door and want to show me where they used to play darts, sup pints and the like.
Then, in 2004, I relocated to Teddington and moved into an end-of-terrace semi. I was delighted when a neighbour revealed that my new home had once been the local corner shop.
Now, finally, I have moved to Twickenham, where I live in an ordinary house built in the 20s. Sadly, its only claim to fame is that it was previously owned by a lady who became the oldest person ever to win Countdown!
Not that any of that can match the fascinating former life of a gorgeous property in Weybridge that has recently come to the market. Situated on the private D’Oyly Carte Island, Eyot House is a unique residence of immense character.
It was built in the late 19th century by Richard D’Oyly Carte, then owner of the Savoy, who wanted to create a Savoy in the country; an annexe to the London hotel. He combined fairytale elements with colonial comfort. Gargoyles and crocodile carvings appear in the eaves, while a wooden veranda surrounds the building on three sides. Despite his influence, however, D’Oyly Carte was unable to secure a liquor licence, and Eyot House became a private residence. An opera impresario, he was able to attract to the property the leading musical personalities of the day. Gilbert and Sullivan spent weekends there rehearsing with the Savoy Opera Company, much to the delight of the Weybridge residents who would gather on the mainland to enjoy the music.
Today, the Grade II listed property still boasts a grand ballroom and some superb riverside gardens sitting peacefully among the 1.9 acres of the island.
Call Curchods on (01932) 843322.