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Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The Dolphins - Farewell To An Era

The Dolphins has been the holiday home and later the permanent residence of members of the White family for over 80 years.
Brigadier White and his family lived in India and in Lewes, Sussex.  A Dr Byam from London built The Dolphins in the 1930s on one of the island's eastern hilltops and it was initially used as a holiday home whilst he continued his medical career in England.  After the war, the White family moved to the island and to this house and generations of the family have since  enjoyed and loved The Dolphins.

Mrs Anne White (nee Mackay) recently died at the grand old age of 95. 
This family were collectors.  There is depth.  Mrs White brought the contents of her mother's Lewes home over here and her parents had lived many years in the far east.  The Whites had lived in India.  That history explains the immense groupings of artefacts in the house.

The home has remained largely untouched since it was built and then furnished in the 30s and 40s so the surviving family members felt that the house should be opened to the public before it and its contents are auctioned.  It was an opportunity I could not pass on.  And I am watching the bidding of the contents on line as I type this post.  Isn't that amazing?!

The auction is now largely over.  It was the usual type of auction, some items running away, many going to around their estimated price and a few not selling.  I found the experience fascinating.  Indian paintings and ephemera flew with lots of online battles.  One Indian watercolour was estimated at £60-80, yet went for £1450 - what had the auctioneer missed, I wonder?
A continental wooden doll valued at £60-80 started with an online bid at £320, quickly became an online battle and ended in auction floor carnage, selling at £6500.
Yes, an experience but one that I won't rush to repeat, it's addictive.

So, back to the plot.  I visited the house yesterday.  I am hoping this post will appeal to lovers of all things vintage.  Needless to say, many pics were taken and these are just a few!  As usual with this type of post, I will let the pics mostly do the talking.

I tested this armchai's upholstery, which is still surprisingly plump ... or maybe that was my own upholstery?!
(This armchair didn't sell.  It needs re-upholstering; maybe there is a post-auction bid to be made ...)

The architect had maximised on the sea and neighbouring island views, with large 30s metal-framed windows abounding.

 Family crockery, I loved this majolica; family pics in a gilded frame.  Mementoes, toys, clothes, far eastern collections and ephemera were displayed for all to view.

I thought of Terri from meadowtreestyle when I spied this stash of glam dressmaking patterns.  Terri loves sewing and retro patterns.  She would have made a serious bid for these, I'm sure. (Terri, the patterns went for £75). There were handbags and hats, fabric and jewellery that I know would have tempted her too.

Beaded handbags; what must be a lifetime's collection of buttons (sold for £45).

These wooden horses sold for £240.

This must have been a childrens' room, it was filled with toys.  I'm thinking Sis might be interested in the Paddington Bears ...  She has one but can a PB fan really have too many?

Well, the dalmatian doggie and brush set went for £120 and the Paddington Bears, £100 (sorry Sis, I didn't get them for you :-()

Handbags in snakeskin.  A set of scales that looks like it may scarily display weight honestly!

Beautifully made ballgowns and pics of their wearers.

The dear lady of the house on the right, in her younger days as Miss Anne Mackay.  So pretty.

The Pout's photographic assistant displaying 1930s coats and jackets.  The range of clothes went right up to the 70s.  Vintage dressers must have had a field day. 
I'm sticking to the vintage I have in my wardrobe!

The Brigadier's chests; Bakelite picnic sets.

Can you imagine having tea on the terrace, wearing your 30s/40s tea dress?

We bumped into a friend who played here as a child.  She doesn't remember ever appreciating the fine views, she just remembers her adventures in the house and garden.

Sark can be seen in the far distance.

So sad that this lovely house with all its history will no doubt be re-built, Sandbanks-style, the same way as so many older houses have gone of late.

Then again, its neighbour, this burnt-down hotel, has remained untouched for about 14 years.  But I think that's a different story.

So, farewell to a delightful 1930s time capsule.

A la perchoine 


  1. Fascinating collection. Such a shame they didn't keep it intact and open the house as a museum.

    1. Yes, that would have been nice but I expect the revenue would fall well short of the running costs. The house will go for a small fortune because of the views.

  2. Fascinating post! Amazing array of artefacts, and how interesting to watch items you'd seen being auctioned.

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it too! I had to see passed the emotion of seeing someone's "whole life" sold in eight hours (I didn't follow the whole thing!) but then I thought that the lady, her family and her parents before had all enjoyed the objects during their lifetimes and I'm sure the daughters who've inherited have kept some choice things with special memories. But when you have your own home bursting at the seams, you can't take in the entire contents of another, so pragmatism wins.

  3. What a wonderful place! So rich in history and memories...the house, with its stunning views is very charming ... it's a pity that no one can restore it. It would be a lovely museum...

    1. Hi Dan, welcome to my blog. It was indeed a little time capsule but all of the contents were sold on Wednesday. The house is now being sold and as with so many houses over here, I'm sure it will be knocked down and rebuilt in a typically modern style and whoever buys it will make sure they have the money to do that! So a little piece of history will soon be gone forever.