For a relatively small island, the Bahamas is one of the global glitterati’s favourite Caribbean playgrounds. Famed as home to holiday getaways of tech mogul Bill Gates, actor Sean Connery and pro golfer Tiger Woods, the tradition of elite escapism started decades ago, arguably with the arrival of the then-scandalous Duke of Windsor and his wife Wallis Simpson in 1940. The grand estate they lived in briefly is now for sale. Wallis Simpson shook the royals – and turned the panther into Cartier’s emblem Perched atop the crest of Prospect Ridge on New Providence and overlooking the crystalline waters of Goodman’s Bay and white sands of Cable Beach is Sigrist House. Dating to 1937, the home was built by the British aviation magnate who co-developed the Spitfire and part-time film producer Frederick Sigrist – the United Kingdom’s very own Howard Hughes – and designed by American architect Carlos Schoeppl. Following his 1936 abdication from the throne as King Edward VIII, famously brought on by his insistence on marrying the divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson and also to dodge accusations of being a Nazi sympathiser, Edward was appointed governor of the colony in 1940. The couple lived at Sigrist House until the governor’s mansion in the capital Nassau was renovated. Recognised for its place in the duke and duchess’ story, the house was also home to Princess Fredericka Ann Guirey – Sigrist’s daughter and a tabloid favourite in 60s London. What are the British royals’ favourite late night tipples? “It’s an amazing property – the drive in through the gates up the road to the house is quite something. You feel like you’re in some type of royal estate because it’s so well taken care of and the grounds are beautiful,” says Mark Hussey of Damianos Sotheby’s International Realty. “The entrance to the house is old-world charming, with ladies’ and men's’ cloakrooms as you step in. It’s a grand property, and for an agent it’s a trophy property to list and represent.” Schoeppl, born in Texas, educated at UCLA, London’s Royal Academy and Paris’ Beaux Arts Academy, is known for his fondness for classical revival and early art deco work, chiefly in Miami. He was the architect on Wolfson Estate, once owned by pop star Ricky Martin. Schoeppl’s work is identifiable by a handful of recurring features that incorporate other architectures as well as singular contemporary spatial concepts that hold up to this day. Hallways often seem to float between rooms rather than link them together in conventional ways, and there is a great deal of attention placed on interior-exterior dynamics. He was fond of statement features; columns, colonettes and arches, transoms, reliefs and sculptural inlays, open beam- and ironwork, and a welcoming fountain accessory. It is believed Sigrist House is the only private home Schoeppl designed in the Bahamas and just the second building overall, in addition to Nassau’s Princess Margaret Hospital. On the market for US$8.5 million, Sigrist House sits on 1.6 hectares (four acres) of lush, tropical gardens, with 15 bedrooms spanning 15,000 square feet (1,400 square metres), including a three-bedroom flat and two four-bedroom guest houses. How are the world’s royal families affected by the coronavirus? Sigrist had a comprehensive modern kitchen installed in 2012 and some core restoration. “The house is basically original. Updates have been made to wiring, plumbing, flooring and the roof, but this grande dame has been allowed to remain as she was designed,” says current property manager Michele Smith. “I probably sound prejudiced, but this house has a presence and an identity that everyone feels as soon as they walk through the front door.” The Spanish colonial exterior architecture is complemented by traditional English interiors. Some of the original designs include Georgian millwork that was manufactured in England, shipped to Nassau and fitted in place – including Sigrist’s white mahogany panelling and mouldings in the living room and library-office. Love The Crown? 5 British palaces, castles and estates to visit The front entrance signals Schoeppl in its iron gate, and the driveway is notable for curving fluidly around lush Caribbean greenery and a massive anchoring tree at the end of the road. The ironwork continues to the house, where it fronts the double wooden door ahead of a regal foyer, accented with marble columns and the first hint of the extensive millwork. Bahamian sunshine pours through the main loggia, where open wood beams and broad arched windows focus attention on the stone terrace beyond and the tropical gardens further still. Schoeppl’s clever layout makes the interior spaces expansive and convivial – or intimate and warm as need demands. Sigrist’s almost four-metre ceilings and carefully placed doorways emphasise the tropical location and enhance the natural ventilation that keeps the house cool in the heat. The main salon, which features one of the estate’s four fireplaces imported from English country homes, is defined by its rich mahogany panelling and buffed floors, offset by natural light, whereas the white mahogany of the Great Room and office infuse each with the kind of old-world refinement expected of a royal household. Want more stories like this? 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