Intro – John Halsey
Historian – Writer – Novelist – Screenplay Writer – Television Presenter
Formerly an International Antiquaire en 17/18th Cnty. Antiques & Period Interiors
Designer of Gardens in the English & Mediterranean Manner & Life Style Consultant
John Hayden Halsey is the only son of Captain Gordon and Angela Halsey. Who constantly met at their family property on the Salcombe Estuary in South Devon, at their London SWI address, internationally and most particularly on the Cote d’ Azur, many of the most famous international figures of the period during the 1950’s – 1960’s. Largely through family, social and business connections. Prior to mass tourism changing the face of France, French Riviera, Cote d’ Azur for ever.
Brought up amongst adults and used to holding his own with most distinguished intellectuals from an early age, John was at the age of eighteen unusually self assured. Having a level of self confidence gained through a combination of being extremely well read allied to exposure to constantly meeting a stream of luminaries that would to many have seemed quite extra-ordinary. Added to which having had the advantage of travelling regularly to the Cote d’Azur and also having enjoyed a prolonged sojourn in North America, as a guest of a number of American luminaries. He had grown up with the benefit of having met many of the ‘Movers and Shakers of the day’ who enjoyed a lifestyle of such ‘sophistication and style’ that would largely be unimaginable to most people today. He was a student of those who were acknowledged ‘Masters of the art of conversation’. Whilst in the company of such as Lord Scarman, Baron Edmond de Rothschild, David Niven and Paul Gallico. Hence John developed an all pervading interest in English, French and North American history together with an enduring passion for English and French 17th and 18th century furniture, furnishings and works of art, allied to extensive worldwide international travel.
John was the youngest ever individual to be the subject of an interview on television regarding the highly sophisticated marketing of ‘museum quality antiques’ in North America, introducing a unique marketing platform, when aged eighteen. Later when only twenty-one, he was the youngest ever professional 17th /18th century specialist in English and Continental furniture to have his own business premises within four floors of a period house in Chelsea in London. Who was also the youngest professional in this field to be invited by the British Broadcasting Corporation to appear as a guest expert on their legendary antiques series, ‘Going For A Song’ along with Arthur Negus their resident expert. Who described John as being: ‘A pleasure to meet one so young, yet so knowledgeable’. Since which time John has created sumptuous ‘period interiors’ along with gardens in the English and Mediterranean manner internationally amongst a number of other entrepeneurial commercial endeavours. The late Baron Edmond de Rothschild once described John Halsey when meeting him socially at an international regatta in the West Indies, as being ‘Le plus chic homme dans les Cariabes’. Suggesting that John has inherited much of the ‘Joie de vivre et style de le vieux monde’ for which his late father was famed internationally.
Amongst those John met on the Cote d’ Azur were the Aly Khan and his wife Rita Heyworth the Hollywood screen siren. Gianni Agnelli of Fiat, Somerset Maughan, Gregory Peck & Veronique Passani, David Niven & Hjordis, Daryl Zanuck & Juliet Greco, Jack Warner & Anne Page, Paul & Virginia Gallico & Ludmilla Von Falz – Fein, Douglas Fairbanks Jnr. & Mary Lee Eppling, Audrey Hepburn & Mel Ferrer, Bridget Bardot & Roger Vadim, Yves Montand & Simone Signoret Barry Diercks & Colonel Eric Sawyer, Eric Dustan together with a host of other legendary celebrities and international luminaries from both widely differing walks of life from both sides of the Atlantic. Added to which my family enjoyed considerable historic and modern family and business connections, dating from the mid-17th century when Thomas Halsey was one of the founders of Southampton on Long Island at a time New York was still a Dutch settlement then known as New Amsterdam, prior to being swapped by the Dutch with England in 1664 for the legendary Nutmeg Islands, then known as the Band Islands. The Halsey 17th century residence ‘Hollyhocks’ at Southampton, is reputedly the oldest surviving building in the State of New York today.
My family entertained many of whom were amongst the most famous personalities to visit Salcombe during the Post War years at Boffins Boft. Many of whom would land by boat on the tide and walk up through the magnificent gardens onto the Provencal style terrace complete with parasols bought on the Cote d’Azur. Amongst our guests were Paul Gallico and his family with his house guests, such as Daryl Zanuck, Kenneth Moore the film star. John Profumo & Valerie Hobson, Sir William Lyons of Jaguar Cars Ltd, Sir Harry Jephcott of Glaxo, Lord & Lady Scarman with their son Johnnie, Whitney Straight, Max Aitken legendary heir of Lord Beaverbrook were all amongst those who enjoyed visiting us at Boffins Boft..
My mother, formerly Angela Trevor – Parker had been amongst the most well known and beautiful ‘Society Socialites’ in London during the 1930’s with a large circle of friends of her own from amongst the celebrities of that period. Angela introduced Diana Caldwell (who was employed by my father Captain Gordon Halsey at the time, during the 1930’s) to Sir Jock Delves-Broughton which ended with a disastrous marriage that was portrayed in the film ‘White Mischief ’ with the stunning Greta Scacci playing Diana superbly. Angela was twenty years younger than my father and a serious collector of 17th/18th century French Haute Epoque Meubles Francais. An expert on Western European history and works of art, owning her own extensive reference library. A Jaguar Sports/saloon was specially created for Angela under the personal auspices of the founder of Jaguar Cars Ltd, by Sir William ‘ Bill’ Lyons for high performance motoring across France down to the Cote d’ Azur. Exploring en route chateaux, abbeys, museums and antique shops whilst purchasing items for her highly successful international antiques business which specialised in fine 17th and 18th century English Oak & Walnut furniture together with exceptional examples of French 17th/18th century Haute Epoque Meubles Francaise which were marketed internationally.
John Halsey brings a passion, rare knowledge and understanding of France by way of portraying French history, culture and life style. Combining a unique background of expertise upon which to draw with regard to the magnificent properties that he has created to provide outstanding, brilliantly produced multi-media projects ‘san pareil’.