‘Heiress Marries Shopkeeper’ was the way an Adelaide newspaper at the time reported the marriage of Edward ‘Bill’ Hayward and Ursula Barr Smith in February 1935.
The wedding ceremony was held privately at St Peter’s College chapel where Bill had been a pupil and won colours for cricket, tennis and swimming. Ursula had attended Presbyterian Girls School (now Seymour College) which was just down the hill from her grand family home Birksgate at Glen Osmond left to her father by his uncle Sir Thomas Elder.
The match was unconventional and set the tone of their marriage first expressed in the plans they had for creating their home in the foothills at Springfield. They took no notice of the conventions of behaviour and taste in conservative Adelaide. Both had travelled extensively before their marriage and brought sophistication to the style of their home and the hospitality they provided for their house guests and visitors.
The Haywards used their home to entertain a circle of friends comprised of artists, musicians, actors, writers and eccentrics of all kinds either at cocktail or dinner parties or as house guests for the weekend. The cavalcade of visitors reads like a who’s who including: Sir Kenneth Clark, Robert Helpmann, Katharine Hepburn, Anthony Quail, Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, Judith Anderson, Googie Withers and Barry Humphries.
Author and son of a South Australian pastoralist Geoffrey Dutton and Ninette, his artist and garden writer wife, were close friends with the Haywards. Ursula enjoyed nothing more than a good ’soul scratch’ conversation with such chums snugged up in the intimacy of the library at Carrick Hill.
In fact books, art, travel and motoring were the great pastimes that Bill and Ursula enjoyed together. Bill also played polo, bred Poll Hereford cattle and was a practical philanthropist running the St John’s Ambulance service from his office at John Martins. In the realm of public life Ursula was the first female trustee of a public art gallery when she joined the Board of the Art Gallery on South Australia in 1953 continuing until 1969. Bill was a founding Director of the Adelaide Festival of Arts board set-up in 1960 out of which began the first festival of this kind in Australia.