Friday 30 October 2015

The Legendary Morgan Motor Company

Henry Frederick Stanley Morgan, generally known as "HFS", was an employee of the Great Western Railway, who bought his first car in 1902 at the age of 21. In 1904, he left his railway job and co-founded a motor sales and servicing garage in Malvern Link. In 1909 he designed and built a car for his own use. He began production a year later and the company prospered. Morgan continued to run it until he died at age 77 in 1959.

Peter Morgan, son of HFS, ran the company until a few years before his death in 2003. He was replaced as chairman by Alan Garnett, a non-family director, from 2003 to 2006. On his departure, a four-man management team was set up consisting of Matthew Parkin, Tim Whitworth, Steve Morris and Charles Morgan, (Peter Morgan's son). In 2010, Parkin left the company and Charles Morgan was named Managing Director. In January 2013 Charles Morgan was removed as Managing Director and Steve Morris took that title. In October 2013, Charles Morgan was fired as an employee and a majority of the shareholders removed him from the Board of Directors. At the end of 2013, the shareholders appointed Andrew Duncan, a local solicitor and friend of the late Peter Morgan, as the first company Chairman since 2006.

Since 2011, the Morgan Motor Company and its related companies, (Aero Racing Limited and Morgan 3 Wheeler Ltd.) have been wholly owned divisions of Morgan Technologies, a company incorporated in late 2010.

Founded 1910
Founder H.F.S. Morgan
Headquarters Malvern, England
Key people
H.George Morgan (1910—1933)
H.F.S. Morgan (1910–1959)
Peter Morgan (1959–2003)
Alan Garnett (2003—2006)
Andrew Duncan (2013—)
Products Motor cars
Revenue (All divisions) £34 million (UK Companies House 2012 Financials)
Owner Morgan Family (100%)
Number of employees
163 (UK Companies House 2009 Financials)

Founded in 1909, Morgan cars have achieved fame throughout the world due to their unique blend of charisma, craftsmanship and performance. The Morgan Motor Company has evolved over 100 years into a true icon, a darling of the automotive industry and a brand synonymous with unrivalled excitement. Today, the ethos remains unchanged with a dedication to traditional craftsmanship and bespoke manufacturing.

The Morgan Motor Company Ltd. was established in 1909 by H.F.S. Morgan with the design of the Morgan three-wheeler. A four-wheeled model began production in 1936, and Morgan cars have long become famous the world over for their unique blend of charisma, quality materials, craftsmanship and performance.

The ethos at Morgan remains unchanged: all our cars are coach built and subjected to continual development in order to meet current standards of safety and to offer the responsive thoroughbred performance with which our name is associated. The development of our model-range has taken the marque into the 21st Century, and today Morgan builds in excess of 1300 cars per year. The Aero 8, a major achievement for a small Company, was launched in 2000, and continual evolution of the Aero Range has seen the 8 joined by the dramatic Aero SuperSports and its fixed-head sibling, the Aero Coupe. In 2011 we re-launched the Morgan 3 Wheeler, a modern interpretation of H.F.S. Morgan’s classic design. Our ‘Classic’ range continues to be our flagship vehicle – with models including the 4/4, the world’s longest-running production vehicle, and engine sizes ranging from 1600cc to 4800cc, these famous icons are the models perhaps most associated with Morgan.

Morgan is extremely proud of its heritage. We have established ourselves as a manufacturer synonymous with pure excellence, reinforced over time by our adherence to superior principles, higher standards and the best craftsmanship. Leading design capability, an extensive array of luxurious materials and the latest drive-train technologies combine to create an unparalleled driving experience.

The family atmosphere at our factory in the beautiful spa town of Malvern, Worcestershire, is one we cordially extend to our customers. Prospective owners are encouraged to visit us to watch their car being built and to choose from our wide paint and leather-trim ranges, along with the optional extras that will stamp their own individuality upon their Morgan; whether it be the lively ‘Classic’ range sports car, the extravagant high performance ‘Aero’ supercar or the truly unique Morgan 3 Wheeler, every last detail of a Morgan is tailored to the customer’s specification.

We invite everyone to witness the charms and the technology for themselves at our on site visitor centre

Announcement Date : May 1 , 1909
The success of the Morgan Motor Company was founded on an icon, the Morgan Three-Wheeler. This brilliant but simple design by H.F.S. Morgan became one of the most successful lightweight cars of the early days of motoring. The principal of fitting a powerful motorcycle engine and simple transmission into a light-weight chassis and body inspired a new type of vehicle which generically became known as the ‘Cyclecar’. Thus the fashion for ‘new motoring’ introduced the freedom of the open road to those of more modest means. The Morgan Runabout was at the forefront of this movement and therefore Harry Morgan can be regarded as the man who first introduced motoring for the masses.
The prototype was constructed in 1909 and was a simple three-wheeler with a tubular steel chassis fitted with a 7 h.p. Peugeot V-twin engine. One of its main features was the unusual power to weight ratio of 90 brake horsepower per ton, which enabled this little vehicle to accelerate as fast as any car being produced at that time. H.F.S. had invaluable assistance from Mr Stephenson-Peach, the engineering master at Malvern College and Repton School in Derbyshire, in whose workshops much of the development work was carried out. Although not originally intended as a commercial venture, the favourable reaction to Morgan’s machine encouraged him to consider putting the car into production. Leslie bacon decided that this was far too risky and quit the partnership, although the two men remained close friends for the rest of their lives.

Announcement Date : Jan 1 , 1936
In 1936, after a prototype had been tested in trials and on the track, a four-wheeler was exhibited at the London and Paris Exhibitions. The new model was called the Morgan 4-4 to differentiate it from the three-wheeler, indicating four cylinders and four wheels. The car had a Z section full width steel chassis with boxed cross members and the body was an ash frame panelled in steel. The combination provided the durability of a coachbuilt car with the lightness required for a sports car. The car was an immediate success. After the launch of the Morgan 4-4 Roadster a four-seater was introduced, followed in quick succession by a Drophead Coupe in 1938. The three-wheeler remained in production although sales of the V-twin engined cars were in decline. The F-type however, remained popular and 1938 saw the addition of a high performance two-seater version, called the F Super.

Announcement Date : Jan 1 , 1947
In 1947 the Standard Motor Co announced their ‘One Engine Policy’ which meant that after 1949 the 1267 c.c. unit would not be available to Morgan. A prototype for a new Morgan was therefore built in 1949 with the Standard Vanguard 1.8 litre engine which gave a much increased performance. 1950 saw the production of this car as the Plus Four. The engine eventually fitted was the 2088 c.c. Vanguard 68 b.h.p. unit. The Plus Four had immediate success in competition, with Morgans winning the team award in the R.A.C. Rally in 1951 and 1952. H.F.S.’s son Peter Morgan was a driver in both teams. The body styles adopted were an open two-seater, a four-seater and a Drophead Coupe. Due to its very high-power-to-weight-ratio the Plus Four also began to have many successes on the track. In 1954 the pre-war design was significantly updated with the radiator now hidden beneath a cowl and grille to improve aerodynamics, and the following year the TR 2 engine was fitted, raising the power to 90 b.h.p. Although detailed modifications have been made over the years, and many other engines fitted, this iconic design remains in production.

Announcement Date : Jan 1 , 1955
In 1955 the Morgan 4/4 was reintroduced as the Series Two. This was a car of similar design to the Plus Four but fitted with a smaller 10 h.p. Ford side valve engine and integral gear box, the object being to provide a sports car with a lively performance and appearance for the enthusiast with modest means. The 4/4 continues to use a Ford engine today, over half a century later!

Announcement Date : Feb 1 , 1966
In 1966 the Triumph TR engine was nearing the end of its life and a suitable replacement was sought. The Rover Motor Company offered the forthcoming aluminium Rover V8 engine. Mr. Maurice Owen joined the firm to take charge of development on the new car, the Morgan Plus Eight, and this model was announced to the public at the Earls Court Motor Show of 1968 (Photo 49). The Plus 8 maintained Morgan’s reputation on the race track as seen here with the second prototype MMC11 (Photo 50). This proved to be one of the most successful cars that the company has ever built and production continued for 36 years until the model was discontinued in 2004. In the late 1960s the Morgan Motor Company acquired additional factory buildings to the south of the existing site. This allowed a modest expansion to the Pickersleigh Road operations.

Morgan Factory Tour

Thursday 29 October 2015

« Parisian Gentleman, Eloge de l’élégance à la française »

Grande nouvelle !
J’ai l’immense joie de vous annoncer la soirée de lancement et de dédicace de l’édition en langue française de mon livre « Parisian Gentleman, Eloge de l’élégance à la française » et d’ouvrir officiellement les réservations pour y participer.
Cette soirée, qui marquera l’aboutissement d’un long cheminement et d’un travail de plus de deux ans, se tiendra donc dans la magnifique boutique historique de la grande Maison Guerlain, dont l’entresol sera privatisé pour l’occasion, au 68 Champs Elysées.
le 24 Novembre de 18H30 à 22H00.

Quelques renseignements sur l’événement et sur la marche à suivre pour y participer :
- Je serai, évidemment, présent avec Andy Julia et l’équipe PG au grand complet, pour dédicacer le livre.
- Mon éditeur français, les Editions Intervalles, sera présent avec un stock conséquent d’ouvrages disponible à la vente afin de permettre à ceux d’entre vous qui le souhaiteront d’en acquérir un ou plusieurs exemplaires sur place lors de la soirée et de repartir de l’événement avec le livre dédicacé.
- Pour ceux d’entre vous qui auraient déjà fait l’acquisition de l’ouvrage, soit en librairie (sortie le 13 Novembre) soit directement sur le site des Editions Intervalles ou sur Amazon, il vous suffira de venir à la soirée avec votre livre sous le bras et je me ferai un plaisir de vous le dédicacer.
Parisian Gentleman Holiday Edition

Pour participer à cet événement exceptionnel, en présence d’un grand nombre de personnalités dont le Président de la maison Guerlain ainsi que d’éminents représentants des 25 maisons évoquées dans mon livre, vous devrez, comme d’habitude, suivre à la lettre les instructions suivantes :
- Envoyer un mail pour demander une invitation à l’adresse suivante : en indiquant si vous souhaitez venir seul(e) ou accompagné(e).
- Vous recevrez dans les 72 heures suivant l’envoi de votre mail la confirmation de votre inscription sur la liste des invités ainsi que l’invitation officielle en pdf.
- Vous devrez vous présenter à l’entrée de l’événement avec l’invitation imprimée.
Je me réjouis de vous revoir pour cette soirée qui s’annonce magnifique et pour enfin vous présenter ce livre qui représente une étape importante de ma vie et de l’histoire de PG.

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Country Life / The Modern Gentleman / The 39 steps to being a (modern) gentleman

Gentlemen then and now

Clearly, he must have manners, humour, humility, talent and courage, but there will always be more materialistic giveaways, too

Country Life / October 28, 2015

A member of the Athenaeum once put up a notice after his umbrella was taken from the cloakroom. It read: ‘Will the nobleman who has taken my umbrella please return it.’ A friend asked: ‘How do you know it’s a nobleman?’ He replied: ‘The rules state that this club is for gentlemen and noblemen, and no gentleman would take my umbrella.’

According to Somerset Maugham, the only value of being a gentleman lay in the fact that it wasn’t a pretence (he also said it was almost impossible to be one and a writer), but with the world changing faster than a baton handover in an Olympic relay, is it possible to have a definitive picture of one? Clearly, he must have manners, humour, humility, talent and courage, but there will always be more materialistic giveaways, too.

Gentlemen then and now

1912 2012

The Proms Glastonbury
The Quorn Duke of Beaufort’s
Rolls-Royce Land Rover Discovery
Baden-Baden Rock
Royal Ascot Glorious Goodwood
Guinea fowl Venison
Bloomsbury Group Hay Festival
Norfolk Dorset
Henley Henley
Shooting at Elveden Shooting at Alnwick
Belgravia Fulham
Moustache Clean-shaven
Cigarettes Nicorette
Rudyard Kipling Antony Beevor
Tobogganing in St Moritz Skiing in Val d’Isère
Rectory Old Rectory
Ballroom dancing Strictly Come Dancing
Claret New Zealand Pinot Noir
Epsom salts San Pellegrino
Wisden Wisden
H. M. Bateman Matt
Fagging Counselling
African grey parrot Buff Orpington
Scotland in August Scotland in August
Manservant No servant
Kedgeree Muesli with blueberries
Bread-and-butter pudding Sticky-toffee pudding
Fob watch Diving watch
Gertrude Jekyll Arabella Lennox-Boyd
Dining room Kitchen
Herbaceous border Wildflower meadow
Royal Yacht Squadron Royal Yacht Squadron
Arthur Conan Doyle Sebastian Faulks
The Savoy Grill The Wolseley
Nightshirt Turnbull & Asser pyjamas
Ironed newspaper Today
English setter Black labrador
Whist BBC Ten O’Clock News
White tie No tie
12-bore 20-bore
New pair of Purdeys Grandfather’s Purdeys
Catching lots of salmon in Scotland Catching no salmon in Scotland
Polo in India Polo in Midhurst

Five perfect gentlemen

Sir Walter Raleigh for courtesy

The Light Brigade for heroism when facing certain death

Beau Brummell for exquisite dressing

Ernest Shackleton for rescuing his men

Lord Carrington for knowing when to resign

Five gentlemen of literature

Lord Peter Wimsey

The Scarlet Pimpernel (Sir Percy Blakeney)

Mr Knightley


Richard Hannay

Five things a gentleman would never do

Holiday in Florida

Own a yacht without sails

Wear fuschia socks

Order Cristal Champagne

Plant a hanging basket

The 39 steps to being a gentleman

Which manners maketh the (modern) gentleman? Rupert Uloth has the definitive list.

Rupert UlothOctober 28, 2015

A gentleman…

1 Negotiates airports with ease

2 Never lets a door slam in someone’s face

3 Can train a dog and a rose

4 Is aware that facial hair is temporary, but a tattoo is permanent

5 Knows when not to say anything

6 Wears his learning lightly

7 Possesses at least one well-made dark suit, one tweed suit and a dinner jacket

8 Avoids lilac socks and polishes his shoes

9 Turns his mobile to silent at dinner

10 Carries house guests’ luggage to their rooms

11 Tips staff in a private house and a gamekeeper in the shooting field

12 Says his name when being introduced

13 Breaks a relationship face to face

14 Is unafraid to speak the truth

15 Knows when to clap

16 Arrives at a meeting five minutes before the agreed time

17 Is good with waiters

18 Has two tricks to entertain children

19 Can undo a bra with one hand

20 Sings lustily in church

21 Is not vegetarian
22 Can sail a boat and ride a horse

23 Knows the difference between Glenfiddich and Glenda Jackson

24 Never kisses and tells

25 Cooks an omelette to die for

26 Can prepare a one match bonfire

27 Seeks out his hostess at a party

28 Knows when to use an emoji

29 Would never own a Chihuahua

30 Has read Pride and Prejudice

31 Can tie his own bow tie

32 Would not go to Puerto Rico

33 Knows the difference between a rook and a crow

34 Sandals? No. Never

35 Wears a rose, not a carnation

36 Swats flies and rescues spiders

37 Demonstrates that making love is neither a race nor a competition

38 Never blow dries his hair

39 Knows that there is always an exception to a rule

Agree? Disagree? Let us know on Twitter

This article features in our Gentleman’s Life magazine, out today with Country Life

Tuesday 27 October 2015

The Seat / Shooting Stick / VÍDEO: Vintage GAMEBIRD Folding Seat Stick Walking Cane Britain

A shooting stick is a combined walking stick and folding chair. It is generally used as a short-term seat at outdoor events.

A traditional British shooting stick is a wooden or metal shaft terminating at the base in a plate foot, with a bifurcated handle at top that folds out to form a simple seat. The seat may be a narrow saddle of leather or webbing. The plate foot typically extends into a metal point intended to dig into the ground for support, although a rubber ferrule may be offered for use on hard surfaces

Tirion History & Tradition
In the late 19th century, Victor Alexis Noirit, a French saddler, moved to London to further enhance his business and reputation, before moving to Walsall.

In 1921, Noirit took out the first Shooting Stick patent.

Premier Seat Sticks since 1921
By 1933, the shooting sticks produced carried the logo of ‘Tirion’, which is Noirit spelt backwards.

There was a leather stitching shop where the seats were hand stitched and they were exported to all parts of the world.

The golf professionals, especially in America, were big customers.
Tirion is now owned by H. Goodwin Castings, an old established metal foundry located in Walsall, England.

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Seymour Lady Worsley / The Scandalou Lady BBC 2 / The Scandalous Lady W, 2015 official trailer HD

Seymour Dorothy Fleming (5 October 1758 – 9 September 1818) was an 18th-century British noblewoman, notable for her involvement in a separation scandal. Her life was dramatised in the 2015 television film, The Scandalous Lady W, in which she was played by Natalie Dormer.

She was the younger daughter and coheir of the Irish-born Sir John Fleming, 1st Baronet (d. 1763), of Brompton Park (aka Hale House, Cromwell House), Middlesex, and his wife, Jane Coleman (d. 1811). Her father and two of her sisters died when she was five and she and her sister were then brought up by her mother. Her elder sister, Jane Stanhope, Countess of Harrington, was noted for being a "paragon of virtue". Her mother remarried in 1770 to a rich sexagenarian Edwin Lascelles, 1st Baron Harewood whose wealth derived from plantations in the West Indies.

At the age of 17, Seymour Fleming married Sir Richard Worsley, 7th Baronet of Appuldurcombe House, Isle of Wight, on 20 September 1775, and was styled Lady Worsley until his death. She was rumoured to have been worth £70,000 upon her marriage, but in truth only brought £52,000 to the union.

They were badly suited to each other and so the couple's marriage began to fall apart shortly after it began. The couple had one legitimate child, a son, Robert Edwin who died young. Seymour bore a second child, Jane Seymour Worsley in August 1781, fathered by Maurice George Bisset but whom Sir Richard claimed as his own to avoid scandal.

Lady Worsley was rumoured to have had 27 lovers. In November 1781, Lady Worsley ran off with George Bisset, a captain in the South Hampshire militia. Bisset had been Sir Richard's close friend and neighbour at Knighton Gorges on the Isle of Wight. In February 1782, Sir Richard brought a criminal conversation case for £20,000 against Bisset. Lady Worsley turned the suit in her favour with scandalous revelations and aid of past and present lovers and questioned the legal status of her husband. She included a number of testimonies from her lovers and her doctor, William Osborn, who related that she had suffered from a venereal disease which she had contracted from the Marquess of Graham. It was alleged that Sir Richard had displayed his wife naked to Bisset at the bath house in Maidstone. This testimony destroyed Sir Richard's suit and the jury awarded him only one shilling in damages.

Eventually, Bisset left Lady Worsley when it became clear that Sir Richard was seeking separation rather than divorce (meaning Seymour could not re-marry until Richard's death). Seymour was forced to become a professional mistress or demimondaine and live off the donations of rich men in order to survive, joining other upper-class women in a similar position in The New Female Coterie. She had two more children; another by Bisset after he left her in 1783 whose fate is unknown, and a fourth, Charlotte Dorothy Hammond (née Cochard) whom she sent to be raised by a family in the Ardennes. Lady Worsley was later forced to leave for Paris in order to avoid her debts.

In 1788 she and her new lover the Chevalier de Saint-Georges returned to England and her estranged husband entered into articles of separation, on the condition she spend four years in exile in France. Eight months before the expiration of this exile, she was trapped in France by the events of the French Revolution and so she was probably imprisoned during the Reign of Terror, meaning she was abroad on the death of her and Sir Richard's son in 1793. Early 1797 saw her quietly return to England, and she then suffered a severe two-month illness. Owing to the forgiveness of her mother, her sister and her sister's husband, the Earl of Harrington, she was then able to move into Brompton Park, the home that was hers previously, but which the laws on property prevented her from officially holding.

On Sir Richard's death in 1805 her £70,000 jointure reverted to her and just over a month later, on 12 September, at the age of 47 she married 26-year-old[4] new-found lover John Lewis Cuchet at Farnham. Also that month, by royal licence, she officially resumed her maiden name of Fleming, and her new husband also took it. After the armistice of 1814 ended the War of the Sixth Coalition, the couple moved to a villa at Passy where she died in 1818. Modern play-writers give her added charisma and volume of virtue by characterizing her as “passionate and courageous” and is re-imagined as a feminist who fought for freedom and equality and bucked societal conventions.

Lady Worsley's Whim by Hallie Rubenhold - review

By Jonathan Wright12:01AM GMT 11 Nov 2008

This is a fabulous 18th-century tale of sex, scandal and divorce, and Hallie Rubenhold tells it beautifully, says Jonathan Wright

What legal options were available to the cuckolded husbands of 18th-century England? Divorce was a fantastically costly, excruciatingly public business, and only really viable for those blessed with deep pockets and lofty social rank.
The so-called parliamentary divorce was one possibility, which obliterated the marital union and left the parties free to re-marry.
However, there was also the solution dispensed by the ecclesiastical court of Doctors' Commons: a legal separation of "bed and board" might be pronounced, but the former husband and wife were not then entitled to find new spouses. This was the vengeful cuckold's first port of call: a wife who was unable to remarry stood an excellent chance of falling into penury.
What, though, of the scoundrel who had ravished her? Here the concept of "criminal conversation" - a euphemistic way of saying "having adulterous sex" - came to the fore.
It was based on the premise that a wife was one of her husband's possessions. If someone slept with her, then the husband's property had been defiled and he was entitled to seek financial reparations.
The amount claimed depended on the degree to which one's honour had been sullied. If the adulterer was a close friend, for instance, then one deserved heftier damages than the husband betrayed by a passing acquaintance.
These cases of "criminal conversation" were among the most sensational legal events of the 18th century.
Hallie Rubenhold guides her readers through these legal twists and turns with aplomb. Her subject is one of the most infamous of such trials: the 1782 battle between Sir Richard Worsley and George Bisset.
Worsley was determined to destroy the lives of his wife and her lover. Even while a separation hearing before Doctors' Commons was pending, he was pursuing Bisset for no less than £20,000: an astronomical sum that Bisset had no hope of paying off.
On the face of things, Worsley's case was excellent. Bisset and Lady Worsley had eloped, they had holed up in a London hotel, and a biddable stream of servants-turned-spies were able to provide evidence of the couple's shenanigans.
Once the details began to emerge, however, things started to fall apart for Worsley. The defence informed the jurors of the string of lovers whom Lady Worsley had allegedly enjoyed through the years.
Her reputation was already in tatters before Bisset entered her boudoir, so how much financial compensation could her husband expect?
Worse yet, Lord Worsley was portrayed as knowing all about, even relishing, such liaisons. One Viscount Deerhurst claimed that Worsley had once discovered him in Lady Worsley's dressing room at four in the morning.
Rather than casting Deerhurst out of the house, Worsley obligingly entertained him for another four days. Perhaps, the jury was supposed to infer, such goings-on pandered to Lord Worsley's voyeuristic perversions: perhaps he had even been at the keyhole.
The coup de grâce came with the Maidstone story. Worsley, his wife and Bisset had once attended a bath-house in the town and, while Lady Worsley was getting dressed, her husband had allowed Bisset to climb on his shoulders to ogle her half-naked form through a window.
Hardly the behaviour of a solicitous husband concerned with his own, or his wife's, honour. Such, at any rate, was the conclusion reached by the jury, who, instead of awarding Worsley £20,000, gave him a shilling.
It is a fabulous story and Rubenhold tells it beautifully. She also expands her narrative to include all the hay that journalists and caricaturists made out of this aristocratic fall from grace, and she takes the trouble to recount what happened to all three after their turbulent trial.
I have one major grumble, however. Rubenhold announces that "until now, no one has ever attempted to reconstruct the sordid history of Sir Richard and Lady Worsley".
This is an exaggeration. The story crops up in lots of scholarly books about 18th-century social history - it is, for instance, the focus of an important recent study by Cindy McCreery.
This inflated claim of originality mars an otherwise very pleasurable book.

Monday 19 October 2015

Nicky Haslam, the new keeper of "Camelot" / VÍDEO: Nicky Haslam's Hunting Lodge Home - Odiham Lodge

Life at the Hunting Lodge was Camelot”
John Cornforth

"What I wanted here was something utterly unpretentious, very comfortable, with a veneer of elegance and informality.”
John Fowler

The grand, but diminutive, Hunting Lodge, former home of John Fowler, co-founder of the esteemed decorating firm Colefax and Fowler, is now home to Nicky Haslam. PHOTOGRAPH BY SIMON UPTON

For Love of Country

Nicky Haslam, renowned interior designer and London man-about-town, calls a 16th-century royal hunting lodge in the English countryside his home away from home—rose chintz sofas, portraits, flourishing garden and all

Updated March 24, 2011 12:01 a.m. ET

Driving down to Nicky Haslam's country house from London, listening to the leading interior designer and legendary partygoer sing along to Cole Porter songs on the car stereo, we turn off a perfectly ordinary Hampshire road and into the woods. Immediately, we find ourselves transported from the mundane commuter belt to Little Red Riding Hood territory. Winding along a muddy lane, we come around a bend and see ahead, beyond a tilting, moss-covered wood gate, through the arching boughs of oak and chestnut trees, the Hunting Lodge.

Nicky Haslam, speaking on the phone. Above him is a portrait of his mother painted by the Scottish artist Robin Guthrie. PHOTOGRAPHS BY SIMON UPTON

Haslam's enchanting Jacobean-revival house was built in the 16th century for the Tudor king Henry VII as a resting place from the chase in these once-royal forests. It is said that here his eldest son, Arthur, Prince of Wales, met his fiancée, Catherine of Aragon, upon her arrival in England; Arthur died soon after the wedding, and Catherine subsequently married his younger brother, the future King Henry VIII. Charming history aside, the Lodge's true delight is its miniature grandeur. "The English truly understand the dynamic between buildings and land," Haslam says. "On the continent, the country is tamed into submission round a house, while in America homes are statements in that vast landscape. Most English houses, grand or small, nestle in an intimate pastoral setting."

Once inside, the Lodge is everything that is romantic about England, and perfectly encapsulates that terrible phrase, "English country-house style"—the combination of real beauty, some age, a bit of mud, certainly a potted geranium or two and utter practicality. For practicality is where the English, who never take aesthetics too seriously, reign supreme. The entrance hall alone is a thing of such charm. It is a perfectly proportioned, neat square, the paneled walls painted in a slubby, satin, oystery color. The ceiling has a vague marble effect. "To hide the cracks!" Haslam says. Centered between two doors—one to a cloakroom lined with framed letters from Charles and Camilla—is a console bearing a Baroque bust of an 18th-century nobleman, a pair of plants in cachepots and a basket with various gardening implements. The door handles and fingerplates are all ancient, brass and beautiful. The silk curtains, again in oyster and hung from carved wood pelmets, are a nod to John Fowler, legendary British interior designer and co-founder of Colefax and Fowler, who was the Lodge's previous tenant. Today, there are still quite a few of his elegant, understated hallmarks throughout the house.

Haslam, sitting in an outdoor pavilion PHOTOGRAPH BY SIMON UPTON

Haslam leased the house from the National Trust in 1978 or, as he puts it, "the year Mrs. T came to power," and has been adding to the rooms ever since. Each corner is filled with personal details that reflect his eclectic style. There are piles of books on every surface; pictures are stacked under tables and on chairs; end tables are softly lit by pretty shades made from concertinaed Mauny wallpaper. In one room, Haslam has hung the original floorplans for James Wyatt's Waterloo Palace—it was to have been a gift from a grateful nation to the Duke of Wellington after his victory over Napoleon—which would have supposedly been far larger than Versailles but funnily enough proved too expensive to realize. Stacked against that are engravings and drawings from his friends: Graham Sutherland, David Hockney and Lucian Freud. "I don't consciously collect anything drily precious or impersonal; I just seem to have acquired pretty bits over the years and, of course, some of those bits came from now-famous old friends," Haslam says. "I tend to look out for things with a resonance to my youth—artists or objects that seemed romantic all those years ago. I never buy anything purely for its value. I like possessions that smile back at me."

This comfortable country scene is in striking contrast with Haslam's London life, where, in addition to running his thriving design business, his evenings revolve around art openings, the opera, premieres, dinners at The Wolseley and Scott's, shopping at Topman and holiday jaunts on his friends' yachts. He is such a natural man of leisure that it's easy to forget how hardworking he is. When asked about his recent clients, Haslam says, "I really think giving lists of clients is very common. But at a pinch you could mention Ringo Starr, Oleg Deripaska, the Rodney Smiths in New Orleans, both the Saatchi brothers, a mansion in Ireland, a chalet in Klosters, a mas in the Midi, a couple of villas on Cap Ferrat . . ."

Haslam has also been a columnist for the Evening Standard; regularly writes for the Spectator; has contributed to Vanity Fair; is a talented artist—he paints watercolors of the interiors he's designing for his clients; and, as his earlier Cole Porter serenading suggests, he sings. He recently headlined two nights at the Savoy's Beaufort Bar in London.

The best houses reflect the inhabitant, and the Lodge is brimming with tokens of Haslam's humor and buzzing social life. In the sitting room, the walls are painted in oxblood mixed with distemper. "It's the color of old cloth Elastoplast," says Haslam of its similarity to Band-Aids. "They used to paint the outside of buildings with it to stop the flies from coming inside." The glazed wood mantel­piece is lined with photographs, invitations and Christmas cards, which seems odd given that it's October. But then, one is from the late Princess of Wales and another is a framed "Christmas 1965" photograph from Cecil Beaton. Over the past 50 years, Haslam has rolled like a snowball through life, collecting colorful friends, including rock stars, movie stars, royalty, oligarchs, Etonians, couturiers, photographers, artists and godchildren, to whom he collectively dedicated "Redeeming Features," his 2009 memoir. "We've all got Nicky stories, but you have to pardon him for whatever he's done, because he's such a life enhancer. When you're with him it is like the sun comes out," says Hannah Rothschild, who recently directed a documentary, "Hi Society," about the designer.

The purpose of my visit is to see the Lodge's latest addition, the garden room. The outbuilding was originally designed by Fowler but had become run down over the years. "I wanted to make it part of the main house even though the two are not connected," Haslam says. "It clearly needed a fireplace and when I found this dotty Rococo number, I knew that a whole makeover was imminent!" He also decided to redesign the attached working greenhouse. From the main house of the Lodge, one walks through a Gothic door in the sitting room and out onto the lawn. Double lines of pleached hornbeam trees lead down to a hidden flower garden and an obelisk-posted white gate. Beyond, a meadow with a rough-cut ride ends at the bank of a lake.

It is spectacularly pretty, even more so because of the lawn, which is mowed in a different pattern each week. During my visit, it was cut on the diagonal and, as a very detail-oriented Haslam pointed out, the lines moved uninterrupted through the gateposts. Looking back from this vantage point, the main house looks like an 18th-century tiara, built in the palest handmade pink bricks with a roofline topped by three soaring gables. Roses, vines and magnolias garland the leaded arabesque windows, under which rest antique metal benches. A lantern with candles inside hangs from one of the vines.

The anteroom off the sitting room, with a portrait of Haslam's mother by the Scottish painter Robin Guthrie. PHOTOGRAPH BY SIMON UPTON

To continue to the garden room, one passes through the leaf-shaded greenhouse, painted in the subtlest shade of gray-green and lined by a waist-high shelf stacked with dozens of aged terra-cotta pots, geraniums and other green things awaiting instruction. An open cupboard displays a collection of blue-and-white china, a gift from his friend Annabel Astor (mother of Samantha Cameron, the British Prime Minister's wife). Then, through a tiny vestibule papered by Fowler in something 18th century, silver and flowery, one comes into the new garden room.

The interior is lovely and quite different from the Lodge. It has a double cube footprint with an airy, pitched ceiling and three large French windows. A pair of sofas flanking the fireplace are upholstered in rose chintz. Many of Haslam's own fabrics are here, including a pair of show-wood chairs covered in a rickrack stripe he calls Zephyr after his black Pekingese dog. The lavender Balcony Stripe curtains are also the decorator's creation, available through his firm, NH Design. There are other Haslam originals, too: a plastic pineapple ice bucket on the drinks tray that he found somewhere long forgotten and painted white with green detailing, as well as wall sconces also painted white with green spots. It's a charming room built for Haslam's larger groups of friends. "When I entertain, I like it to appear as casual as possible, but in fact I will have orchestrated everything quite carefully, by producing surprises for the eye, mouth and ear," he says. "I prefer to do it all myself. I'm a pretty good cook and the house is too small to tell the help where things should go."

In winter, Haslam entertains in the Lodge's frescoed dining room, as he did last December when he threw a 16-person New Year's Eve party. In summer, he prefers one of the garden pavilions, with drinks before and after in the garden room. Since the house is located less than 40 miles from London, the designer enjoys inviting people for Sunday lunch, such as his "greatest friend" Min Hogg, founder of the style bible The World of Interiors, neighbors like Jemma and Arthur Mornington (she is the makeup artist Jemma Kidd; he is the heir to the Duke of Wellington), and Tom Stoppard, who has learned to be careful of the house's low doorways.

The walls in the sitting room are painted in oxblood with distemper. The Marie Antoinette bust, which Haslam describes as "a very good 19th-century copy" of the Houdon original, belonged to the designer's father and sits next to a bunch of flowers picked up at the supermarket. ENLARGE
The walls in the sitting room are painted in oxblood with distemper. The Marie Antoinette bust, which Haslam describes as "a very good 19th-century copy" of the Houdon original, belonged to the designer's father and sits next to a bunch of flowers picked up at the supermarket.
I stayed the night and after dinner we sat at the kitchen table listening to old tunes on Spotify, a new free website that plays what seems like every song ever recorded. It was funny, really, as Haslam nipped off to the fridge for a delicious bottle of Yquem, to think how I was in the house of one of London's most glittering and long-standing socialites, a man who knows and has partied with everyone. And yet here we were, cozily sitting in the kitchen of a wonderfully decorated house, with the spirit of John Fowler and some royal romance hanging in the air.

I left very early the following morning to catch a plane. Haslam was up at 5:30 a.m. making me coffee and toast, with Radio 4 on for company. It was still dark when my cab drove away, and as I turned back for one last look, I saw Haslam standing backlit at the kitchen door in his dressing gown, waving goodbye. Off I went, down Little Red Riding Hood's path once more.