You see, an astonishing and bitter rift about the tycoon’s £160m fortune cast a very dark shadow over the later life of Hayward, who died last year. Two of his three children, Rick and Sue, felt he was giving too much of his fortune away, to the extent that Hayward believed his own family wanted him dead.
While he spent his final years on the island he developed, Grand Bahama, living with his mistress Patti Bloom and entertaining the Queen to lunch, much of his family back home were furious that he gave up Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club for a token amount.
Meanwhile his wife, Lady Hayward, continued to live at the 222-acre Lydhurst Estate, in Warninglid, described by estate agent Strutt and Parker as one of the finest in southern England. The couple, though enjoying what sticklers might regard as an unconventional union, continued to get on.
Not so Sir Jack and two of his children. To persuade Rick and Sue to agree to the sale of Wolves – which guaranteed the survival of the club he had loved since his boyhood in the Black Country – Jack had to sign over his beloved Lydhurst Estate, as well as his 14,000-acre Dunmaglas shooting estate in Scotland. Rightly or wrongly, he likened it to blackmail.
He said in 2010: “To say my children are a disappointment to me would be the understatement of the century. They’d rather I kicked the bucket. Why don’t they go out and get a good job instead of lusting after me and my trusts? I feel betrayed, disgusted and puzzled by what they are doing – but if they want a fight then, by God, they have got one.”
He continued his tirade: “My eldest son Rick is going around the cocktail circuit here on the island saying: ‘My big problem is that my father won’t die’. Which is a lovely remark to make to people at cocktail parties, isn’t it?
“All of the children are trying to prove that I am gaga. Even the grandchildren are in on the act, and that hurts. They say they want to protect me from myself! Well,
I am quite capable of looking after myself, thank you very much.”
Whether or not his son really did say such things, we do not know; when asked to comment, the family refused, perhaps preferring their privacy.
But it certainly seems Jack and his daughter saw things very differently. When Hayward gave £300,000 – £2m in today’s money – to have Brunel’s first propeller-driven ship, the SS Great Britain, repatriated from the Falklands and restored, the then 21-year-old Susan called it “a rather unwise expense. I felt it was just a hunk of iron.’’
And that was not the limits of his generosity. The Liberal Party was given money, he saved Lundy Island for the nation, he even sponsored the English Women’s Cricket Team, joking that it combined his two great loves, cricket and women.
But then he could afford to be generous, and seemed to gain more pleasure from giving money away than earning it. In 2009 he was placed 125th in The Sunday Times Rich List.
He listed his recreations in Who’s Who as “promoting British endeavours, mainly in sport.. . preserving the British landscape, keeping all things bright, beautiful and British.” He banned non-British cars from his Sussex estate and refused to drink French wine, which was more of a sacrifice.
Freeport, the massive harbour he built on Grand Bahama, was his Ruritania, where he tried to recreate a Britain lost. He imported London double-decker buses, red pillar boxes and matching red phone kiosks. Visiting Royal Navy seamen were always given dinner at a local restaurant “with the compliments of Sir Jack”. On the island
he drove a Rolls Royce sporting, appropriately, a Union Jack; back in Blighty, Hayward drove a Range Rover bearing the bumper sticker: “Buy abroad — sack a Brit”.
The centre of the Sussex estate is a beautiful white eight bedroom thirties mansion, kept company by eleven farm cottages. The main house provides four large, light, high-ceilinged reception rooms with elaborate cornicing and fine views of the South Downs.
It is situated near Horsham in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Over 100 acres of the estate is woodland, 79 acres farmland and 25 acres parks and gardens.
Perhaps the greatest attraction to buyers, with a few bob to spend browsing on Zoopla, will be the glorious gardens. A terrace wraps around half the course, surveying a croquet lawn, ponds and a ha-ha with the working estate beyond. The lawns are broken up by trees, water features and sculptures, but the most notable Hayward touch is
surely the statue honouring the Home Guard who were billeted here in the war.
Fine house though it undoubtedly is, the greatest interest about it is surely its association with one of the most buccaneering Brits of modern times. With his shock of white hair and cheerful good humour, he was loved in his home town and was popular in Sussex, too.
Understandably he bristled at suggestions he merely inherited his wealth. His father invested in his Caribbean enterprise, but unlike the wastrels of so many rich parents, he knuckled down and worked. Life on the island was primitive in the early years, banking in a wooden hut and without a telephone.
He had to haul up a flag if he wanted a lift from a passing aeroplane; a true pioneer.
When he died in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, aged 91, it was surely right that the other Union Jack was also lowered.
Why you should buy it?
Estates this big and this grand don’t come up very often in Sussex.
What should you be wary of?
As well as an estate office and countless outbuildings it also comes with 11 estate staff – a hefty outlay.
Get in touch with Strutt & Parker Horsham
t: 01403 246790 w: struttandparker.com