Victorian-era island mansion off the Thames sells for £ 3million to mysterious local buyer


The very model of a modern house! Victorian mansion built by opera impresario Gilbert and Sullivan Richard D’Oyly Carte on a private Thames island sells for £ 3million to a local buyer

  • The island manor house, near Weybridge in Surrey, had been abandoned for ten years before it was purchased
  • Richard D’Oyly Carte, the ‘Victorian Simon Cowell’, hosted Gilbert and Sullivan’s rehearsals at the property
  • Carte hoped to create a boozy getaway hotel on the island in the 1890s, but was unable to get a liquor license
  • Secret buyer plans to spend an additional £ 1million to bring crumbling mansion back to its heyday

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Richard D’Oyly Carte (1844-1901) has been nicknamed the “Simon Cowell of the Victorian Era” for his astute handling of legendary musical acts, such as Gilbert and Sullivan

An island in the Thames has been bought by a mysterious British buyer for £ 3million, along with the 13-bedroom Victorian mansion that stands on the grounds.

The grade II listed mansion, named Eyot House, was built for Richard D’Oyly Carte, a talent agent best remembered for handling the early productions of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operas.

Ile D’Oyly Carte, near Weybridge in Surrey and named after the opera impresario who bought it in 1890, had been abandoned for at least ten years.

According to Ricky Luther, manager of Chase Apartments, the real estate agent who sold the property, the island’s Grade II-listed mansion had fallen into a near-derelict state.

He said The Guardian: ‘It will be a pretty expensive project for the new owner.’

The mysterious British buyer is up for the challenge, however, pledging to invest £ 1million – on top of the £ 3million sale price – in a bid to ‘bring him back to the glory of the Thames that would be D’Oyly Carte. proud of’.

Carte, known as ‘Simon Cowell of Victorian England’ for his astute handling of the popular music acts of the time, was also a hotelier, the most notable property in his catalog being the Savoy Hotel on the Strand in the City of Westminster.

He bought the island on the Thames, then called Folly Eyot, with the intention of turning it into a watered boat stop, to which Savoy Hotel guests could travel by ferry for a private retreat from the hustle and bustle of central London.

Pictured: The narrow walkway connecting the 13-bedroom Victorian mansion to the south bank of the Thames

Pictured: The narrow walkway connecting the 13-bedroom Victorian mansion to the south bank of the Thames

In the photo: the front door of the island manor.  The property was built by Carte with the intention of turning it into a watered boat stop to which guests of his Savoy hotel in the City of Westminster could travel by ferry for a private retreat

In the photo: the front door of the island manor. The property was built by Carte with the intention of turning it into a watered boat stop to which guests of his Savoy hotel in the City of Westminster could travel by ferry for a private retreat

Eyot House has 13 bedrooms, five bathrooms, four reception rooms and a large ballroom (pictured)

Eyot House has 13 bedrooms, five bathrooms, four reception rooms and a large ballroom (pictured)

In the photo: the staircase.  Carte used to invite musical theater legends Gilbert and Sullivan to his mansion for weekend rehearsals.  The new owners of the property, whose identities remain a secret, are a local couple in the area with plans to lose £ 1million for the mansion and island renovation.

In the photo: the staircase. Carte used to invite musical theater legends Gilbert and Sullivan to his mansion for weekend rehearsals. The new owners of the property, whose identities remain a secret, are a local couple in the area with plans to lose £ 1million for the mansion and island renovation.

In the photo: the path from the river to Eyot House, Isle of Oyly Carte.  The property is close to Weybridge in Surrey

In the photo: the path from the river to Eyot House, Isle of Oyly Carte. The property is close to Weybridge in Surrey

However, Card’s hopes of a ‘Savoy-on-Thames’ hotel were shattered when authorities refused to grant him a drinking permit for the planned watered boat stop.

Having already invested in strengthening the shores of the 1.9 acre island and building the 13-bedroom mansion, Carte and his wife, Helen, used the land and the Eyot House as one of their primary residences.

Playwright WS Gilbert (1836-1911) and composer Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900), who jointly premiered fourteen comic operas – including titles such as HMS Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado – often rehearsed on the island with the Savoy Opera Compagnie.

Carte persuaded Gilbert and Sullivan to collaborate on their first comedy opera in 1875, setting in motion a legendary partnership.

The people of Weybridge have long been interested in ÃŽle D’Oyly Carte and House Eyot, drawn by their connection to legendary figures of the Victorian era, according to Mr Luther, director of the real estate agent who has sold the property.

He said: “It is very well known in the area and a lot of people have had great ideas to turn it into a hotel or a yoga retreat.”

Mr Luther declined to name the new owners, although he said they were a local couple excited to be able to live their dream life on ÃŽle D’Oyly Carte.

Let there be light! D’Oyly Carte’s electrically lit Savoy Theater was the first of its kind in 1881

D’Oyly Carte’s Savoy Theater, built to stage operatic comedies by Gilbert and Sullivan, was the first public building in the world to be fully lit by electric lighting.

1,200 incandescent lamps, powered by a 120 horsepower generator outside the building, were needed to bathe the theater in light.

Carte believed that the electrically lit theater would facilitate the enjoyment of performances held in the state-of-the-art theater.

D'Oly Carte Opera Company (pictured) staged Gilbert and Sullivan's Savoy operas in the UK and occasionally in Europe and North America from 1870s to 1982

D’Oly Carte Opera Company (pictured) staged Gilbert and Sullivan’s Savoy operas in the UK and occasionally in Europe and North America from 1870s to 1982

He said: “The biggest drawbacks to the enjoyment of theatrical performances are, without a doubt, the stale air and heat that permeates all theaters.

“As everyone knows, each gas burner consumes as much oxygen as many people and at the same time produces a great deal of heat.

“Incandescent lamps do not consume oxygen and cause no noticeable heat.

In 1875 D'Oyly Carte persuaded the dramatic WS Gilbert and the composer Arthur Sullivan to collaborate on their first comic opera.  They then formed a lasting and iconic partnership, jointly creating fourteen comedy operas - including titles such as HMS Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado.

In 1875 D’Oyly Carte persuaded the dramatic WS Gilbert and the composer Arthur Sullivan to collaborate on their first comic opera. They then formed a lasting and iconic partnership, jointly creating fourteen comedy operas – including titles such as HMS Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado.

However, the new technology aroused some trepidation among viewers.

To demonstrate how safe the bulbs were, Carte stood on stage in front of the audience and smashed an incandescent bulb.

The first generator to power the Savoy Theater was too small to light the entire building, which meant the stage had to be lit using gas lamps until December 28, 1881.

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