Nicky’s Labour of Love casts a spell

The garden room. An English Rococo fire surround found at an antiques fair completes the renovation of the room. PA Photo/Simon Upton.
The garden room. An English Rococo fire surround found at an antiques fair completes the renovation of the room. PA Photo/Simon Upton.
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It would be easy to assume that Nicky Haslam, an interior designer with a global reputation and no stranger to private planes and palaces, might possess a home suited to the pages of celebrity magazines.

You know, the type of place that speaks more of ostentation and status than style. But it’s obvious on first sight of his enchanting house that nothing could be further from that stereotype.

Nestling discreetly in rolling countryside and surrounded by forests of oak and chestnut trees, the 16th century Hunting Lodge was once used by King Henry VII as a resting place from the chase.

It was here that Henry’s eldest son, Arthur, Prince of Wales, met his fiancee, Catherine of Aragon, on her arrival in England, and when he died shortly after their wedding Catherine married his younger brother, the future King Henry VIII.

None of that mattered to Haslam, who first set eyes on the Hampshire property as he stood in a clearing by the nearby lake and fell in love with “the fairytale facade of this rose-pink, brick-gabled folly glinting in the evening sun. It seemed like a stage set”.

Nearly four decades on he’s transformed a formerly neglected warren of small, bare rooms into an English country home which is unselfconsciously grand.