The other Haughey: lavish lifestyle of an Irish lord

Contents of Dr Edward Haughey’s ‘Downton Abbey’ home for sale

The drawingroom of Dr Edward Haughey’s mansion at 9 Belgrave Square, London. According to Sotheby’s, his “extraordinary London home formed the backdrop to life at the highest level of British society”.

The drawingroom of Dr Edward Haughey’s mansion at 9 Belgrave Square, London. According to Sotheby’s, his “extraordinary London home formed the backdrop to life at the highest level of British society”.

 

He once lashed out at his housekeeper for making the wrong choice in silver serving dishes, but nobody could have accused the late Dr Edward Haughey of not setting a good table.

The pharmaceuticals giant, who was also known as Lord Ballyedmond of Mourne and who was killed in a helicopter crash in 2014, was renowned for his lavish hospitality in his several homes – which included castles in Rostrevor, Co Down and in Norfolk, England where he had a 1,000-acre shooting estate.

The setting was particularly majestic in his London home, a Belgravia mansion dripping in gilt and worthy of an oligarch, where politicians, friends and business connections dined off fine china under glittering chandeliers.

The diningroom of Dr Edward Haughey’s mansion in Belgravia in London, where politicians, friends and business connections dined off fine china under glittering chandeliers
The diningroom of Dr Edward Haughey’s mansion in Belgravia in London, where politicians, friends and business connections dined off fine china under glittering chandeliers

Now, the monogrammed linen and the silver birds that once strutted across the table are to be sold along with hundreds of lots of silver, art and furniture that were crammed into the six-storey home.

Westminster peer

The tycoon, who was not related to the former Taoiseach Charles Haughey, was a Westminster peer and, previously, a member of the Irish Senate. He left properties worth hundreds of millions, and now the contents of the London home at 9 Belgrave Square are to be sold by his widow, Lady Mary, with an estimate of £3.5 million. The house is to be sold separately.

Notable items include a portrait of a lady by Sir Joshua Reynolds and a vast silver wine cooler designed to take up to 70 bottles described as “an essential component in the etiquette of formal dining”, dating from 1719, and estimated at £80,000-£120,000.

French tapestries, Italian marbles and a fine Irish concert harp are among the lots for sale. The contents of the house are being sold by Lord Ballyedmond’s widow, Lady Mary, with an estimate of £3.5 million
French tapestries, Italian marbles and a fine Irish concert harp are among the lots for sale. The contents of the house are being sold by Lord Ballyedmond’s widow, Lady Mary, with an estimate of £3.5 million

The Newry-based entrepreneur and philanthropist, who gave generously to charity, to educational institutions and also to the British Conservative party, was described at his funeral by his son, also called Edward, as a “demanding visionary . . . driven to perfection”.

Born in Border country in rural Co Louth, Dr Haughey built up Norbrook Laboratories, a pharma company that specialised in veterinary devices, into a vastly successful business, and he was frequently referred to as one of the wealthiest men in the UK. According to Sotheby’s, his “extraordinary London home formed the backdrop to life at the highest level of British society”.

Fine antiques

Dr Haughey owned several homes, and furnishing them with fine antiques and decorative pieces was one of his great pleasures in life, it seems. His collection of furniture, art and astonishingly lavish dining accoutrements “stand as testament to Lord Ballyedmond’s unerring eye as a collector”, according to a press release from Sotheby’s.

Dr Edward Haughey, also known as Lord Ballyedmond of Mourne, with his wife Mary, receiving an honorary doctor of laws degree at UCD in 1997. Photograph: David Sleator
Dr Edward Haughey, also known as Lord Ballyedmond of Mourne, with his wife Mary, receiving an honorary doctor of laws degree at UCD in 1997. Photograph: David Sleator

Around 700 objects, spanning over 400 years, will be offered in a two-day (May 23rd-24th) sale in London, with the majority drawn from the Haugheys’ “magnificent townhouse”, described as the “Downton Abbey of our times”.

French tapestries, Italian marbles and a fine Irish concert harp are among the lots for sale, along with silk upholstered furniture and a collection of gentlemen’s dressing accessories. “ Lord Ballyedmond was an elegant man,” says Sotheby’s, and his cufflinks, tie-pins and watches by great names including Cartier, Van Cleef and Arpels, Boucheron and Tiffany & Co will be sold with estimates ranging from £150 to £6,000.

Altercation

Dr Haughey’s Irish home was Ballyedmond Castle outside Rostrevor in Co Down, but he also lived at Corby Castle in Norfolk, a 1,000-acre estate that he purchased in the mid-1990s for around £2.5 million. It was here that an altercation took place with his housekeeper, Linda Heaton, over the dining arrangements and table settings for a shooting party. She left as a result of the row and won a sacking case against Dr Haughey.

The Haugheys had also planned to build a super-sized country house, Dungooley Lodge, in the townland where he grew up in Louth. There was a series of delays in the construction of the 27,000sq ft mansion.

The design was compared with the neoclassical design of the Merrion Street facade of Leinster House, featuring an arched portico, domed roof and Indian sandstone columns. Dungooley’s construction was prolonged, and it faltered when a 70lb bomb of homemade explosives was discovered in one of the walls in the house in 2006.

The partially completed house is being sold by the Haughey family through Newry-based auctioneers Best Property Services, as a “shell building” with roof and glazing completed. The asking price is €4.155 million, to include over 250 acres.

Voracious buyer

Dr Haughey was a voracious buyer of antiques, according to members of his family, who told the Telegraph that a family visit to the Taj Mahal was followed by hours spent looking at marble works and antiques depots in Agra.

He was a frequent customer at Lassco, The London Architectural Salvage and Supply Co, which posted an appreciation on its blog following his death: “Dr Haughey was a regular Lassco customer – a rubicund and congenial latterday Hearst, he would fall on our most grandiloquent stock in the manner that might be expected of the shrewd and accomplished businessman that he was. He was always a delight to deal with – courteous, cheerful and generous to a fault . . . very sadly we have lost a salvage Medici.”

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