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 Blue Plaques in Belgravia

 

Edward Wood
Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman
Walter Bagehot
Dame Edith Evans
Ian Fleming
George Moore
Field Marshall 6th Viscount Gort VC.
F. E. Smith. 1st Earl of Birkenhead
 
Matthew Arnold
Vivian Leigh
Neville Chamberlain
Thomas Cubitt
Mary Wollstencraft Shelley
Robert Boothby
Prince Metternich
 

 

2016  Celebrating 150th Anniversary since the establishment of the 
British Blue Plaque

Edward Wood
1st Earl of Halifax 
Statesman

Born 1881 - Died 1959

 
 
Above pictures: Blue Plaques by Mary Regnier-Leigh, Halifax Image by Wikipedia
 

Edward Frederick Lindley Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax was born in 1881 at Powderham Castle in Devon the 4th son of Charles Wood, 2nd Viscount Halifax, but succeeded to his father’s title and estates as his 3 elder siblings were sickly and died young

 

He was a devout Anglo-Catholic and Churchill nicknamed him ‘the Holy Fox’. He was educated at Eton and Oxford and in the 1930s was one of the most senior Conservative politicians holding several senior ministerial posts most notably Foreign Secretary and Viceroy of India.

From 1941 to 1946 he served as British ambassador in Washington. He is regarded as one of the architects of the policy of appeasement and was favoured by George VI over Churchill to be PM.

Many members of the upper and upper middle classes at that period were against another war remembering the terrible death toll particularly of their members and costs incurred in World War 1. Halifax married Lady Dorothy Onslow and had 4 children, one of whom was Richard Wood, an MP who was created, Baron Holderness.

He was a prominent member of the Carlton Club and as such was threatened with blackballing by Brooks the rival Whig Club when he tried to become a member. Eventually, he was instated as a member.

He died on his estate at Garrowby in 1959 and received many tributes and described by Harold Begbie as ‘the highest kind of Englishman in politics whose life and doctrine were in complete harmony with a very lofty moral principal, but who has no harsh judgement for men who err and go astray’;  by Harold Macmillan as possessing ‘ a sweet and Christian nature’ and Rab Butler as ‘ half unworldly saint half cunning politician’.
 

Matthew Arnold
Poet

Born 1822 - Died 1888

Above pictures: Blue Plaques by Mary Regnier-Leigh, Arnold Image by Wikipedia
 
 

Arnold was the son of Thomas Arnold, the famous headmaster of Rugby. He was an English poet, cultural critic who worked as Inspector of Schools

 

In 1836 Arnold was sent to Winchester but returned to Rugby in 1838 where he won school prizes for essay writing.

In 1841 he won a scholarship to Balliol. In 1845 he was elected a Fellow of Oriel and in 1847 became Private Secretary to Lord Lansdowne, Lord President of the Council.

In 1851 he became one of Her Majesty’s Inspector of schools, a job he sometimes described as 'drudgery’ but the salary did enable him to marry Frances Whightman, the daughter of a Justice of the Queens Bench.  They had six children.
 
He published a number of poems and was elected a Professor of Poetry
at Oxford in 1857.
 

He died of heart failure in 1888

Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman

1905 -1908. Prime Minister 

B 1836 - D 1908

 
 
 

He was born at Kelvinside House, Glasgow in 1836 the 2nd son of Sir James Campbell of Stracathro and Janet Bannerman


He was educated at High School and the University of Glasgow. He served as Liberal Prime Minister from 1905-1908 and Leader of the Liberal Party from 1899 and 1908. He served as Secretary of War twice and was the first Lord of the Treasury to be officially called ‘Prime Minister’. Colloquially known as CB he was a firm believer in free trade, Irish Home rule and the improvement of social conditions. He has been referred to as ‘Britain’s first and only, radical Prime Minister.

He introduced free school meals for all children and proposed reforms to the House of Lords, later introduced by Lloyd George's Parliament act of 1911. He later retired because of ill health. Both CB and his wife were big eaters and died in 1908. He was succeeded by Asqwith as PM in 1908.
 

Vivian Leigh

Born 1913 - Died 1967
 

 

Vivian Mary Hartley was born in Darjeeling in 1913 the only child of Ernest Hartley, a broker, and Gertrude Yackjee who may have been of Irish and Parsee ancestry and in 1931 Vivian enrolled at RADA. She met Herbert Leigh Holman, known as Leigh Homan, a barrister and they married in 1932. She gave birth to a daughter Suzanne, later Mrs Robin Farrington


Vivian had a small role in the film 'Things Are Looking Up' and in 1935 received excellent reviews in the play 'The Mask of Virtue'.  John Betjeman described her as “the essence of British girlhood”.  Alexander Korda who had at first rejected her, admitted his mistake and signed her up to a film contract. She met Laurence Olivier, who was still married to Jill Esmond, in The Mask of Virtue. The story goes that she went into Olivier's dressing room and took all her clothes off. While filming 'Fire Over England' she began a passionate affair with Lawrance Olivier. She told a journalist that she cast herself to play Scarlett O’Hara in
'Gone with the Wind'.

Vivian played Ophelia to Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet in 1937. On this occasion, her mood suddenly changed just as she was preparing to go on stage. Then for no apparent reason, she began screaming at Olivier before falling silent and staring into space. She performed without mishap and the next day she returned to normal having had no recollection of the event.  

Lawrance Olivier and Vivian Leigh began living together but neither of their respective spouses would give them a divorce. In 1940, they finally married and in 1941, they filmed 'That Hamilton Woman' with Olivier playing Nelson and Vivien playing Lady Hamilton.  Olivier was knighted in 1947 and Vivian became Lady Olivier, however, after their divorce, she became known as Vivian, Lady Olivier.  Vivian became increasingly jealous of Olivier and as a result quarrelled incessantly with him.

In 1949, Vivian played Blanche Dubois in a 'Street Car Named Desire' which was a great success and received an Academy Award for Best Actress. In 1960, she and Olivier divorced. Vivian began an affair with actor Jack Merivale and they lived in Eaton Square until she died in 1967. Her death was announced publicly on July 8, and the lights in every theatre in London were extinguished for an hour. 
 
Vivian Leigh's funeral was held at St Martins The Fields, where John Gielgud, as he was then known,  read a final tribute.

 

Walter Bagehot

Born 1826- Died 1877

 

Constitutional expert. British journalist, businessman: Essayist, who wrote extensively about government, economics, literature and the British Constitution

 
Bagehot was born in Langport, Somerset, England, on 3 February 1826. His father, Thomas Watson Bagehot, was Managing Director and Vice-Chairman of Stuckey's Banking Company. He attended University College London (UCL), where he studied mathematics, and in 1848 earned a master's degree in Moral Philosophy. Bagehot was called to the Bar by Lincoln's Inn but preferred to join his father in 1852 in his family's shipping and banking business.

In 1867, Bagehot wrote The English Constitution, a book that explores the nature of the Constitution of the United Kingdom, specifically its Parliament and Monarchy. It appeared at the same time that Parliament enacted the Reform Act of 1867, requiring Bagehot to write an extended introduction to the second edition which appeared in 1872.
 
He defined the rights and role of the MONARCH as the right to be consulted, the right to encourage and the right to warn

In the light of the BREXIT debate, the British Constitution and its role in Government
is particularly poignant
 
Bagehot never fully recovered from a bout of pneumonia he suffered in 1867. He died in 1877 from complications of what was said to be a cold. Collections of Bagehot's literary, political, and economic essays were published after his death. The subjects ranged from Shakespeare and Disraeli to the price of silver in honour of his contributions,

The Economist's weekly commentary on current affairs in the UK is entitled "Bagehot". Every year, the British Political Studies Association awards the Walter Bagehot Prize for the best dissertation in the field of government and public administration.

 

Neville Chamberlain
Born 1869 - Died 1940
 
It was considered an honour to have a blue plaque unveiled outside one's property and both Nelson and Benjamin Franklin were given serious thought for the first blue plaque.  However in 1867 at his birthplace, off Cavendish Square, it was the poet Byron who became the first to have a blue plaque to commemorate his life. 2016 celebrates 150 years of identifying buildings where famous people have lived and worked and English Heritage are about to reveal six more blue plaques.  They include Margot Fonteyn (ballerina), Samual Beckett (playwright) and Ava Gardner (actress). Belgravia is fortunate to have many blue plaques in the vicinity and we hope you are enjoying our Blue Plaques series. This month we read about the famous Politician who waved the white paper just prior to the outbreak of WW2.
Above pictures: Blue Plaques by Mary Regnier-Leight, Chamberlain by Wikipedia

 
Neville Chamberlain was born in Edgbaston, Birmingham, in 1869 the son of Joseph Chamberlain, a Cabinet minister and Major of Birmingham, and Florence Kenrick

He was educated at Rugby and then Mason College (now Birmingham University). His father sent him to Andros Island in the Bahamas to establish a sisal plantation which ended in failure losing the family £50,000. He then joined and purchased Hoskins and Co, a manufacturer of metal ship berths which was successful. He married Anne Cole in 1911 (a distant relative by marriage) and had a son and a daughter. Anne encouraged him to enter politics and in 1911 he successfully stood as Liberal Unionist for
Birmingham City Council.

In 1916, the Prime Minister, Lloyd George offered Chamberlain the post of Director of National Service and with little support from the Prime Minister caused hatred between them.  Chamberlain then decided to stand for Parliament as a Unionist candidate for Birmingham Ladywood at the age of 49 being the oldest Parliamentary debutant to later become PM.

In 1923, Chamberlain was promoted to Chancellor of the Exchequer by Baldwin. In the 1923 election, the Conservatives were defeated and Chamberlain only narrowly beat his Labour opponent, Oswald Mosley, (whose headquarters were based in Ebury Street) later led the British Union of Fascists. Chamberlain then became Minister of Health and left in 1929. In the 1931 National Government, the PM Ramsay Macdonald won an overwhelming victory, mainly with Conservative help and he appointed Chamberlain Chancellor. He then proposed a tariff on foreign goods  but a lower tariff or no tariff on goods from the Colonies, a policy known as “Imperial Preference”.

By 1935, Germany was rearming and Chamberlain was convinced of the need for rearmament. In 1936, during the abdication crisis, Chamberlain in common with the rest of the Cabinet, except Duff Cooper, agreed with Baldwin that King Edward VIII should abdicate if he married Wallis Simpson. The King abdicated 10 days after the cabinet meeting. Baldwin then advised King George VI to send for Chamberlain and in 1937 he became PM.

In 1937, he passed the Factories Act which aimed to promote better conditions in factories  limited working hours for women and children and gave workers a week off with pay. The Housing Act of 1938 provided subsidies to encourage slum clearance and maintained rent control.

Between 1937 and 1938 he attempted to secure some conciliation with Germany. Having allowed Hitler to invade the Sudetenland but not annexe Czechoslovakia [which he promptly did] he flew to Munich and returned with his famous piece of paper “peace with honour”. He was much applauded particularly by King George VI

By 1939, Hitler had invaded Poland and in September 1939, war was declared. In 1940, Chamberlain favoured Halifax as his successor but he was reluctant to press his claims and Churchill emerged as the first choice. Churchill asked him to become Chancellor of the Exchequer which he declined but accepted the post of Lord President of the Council.

Neville Chamberlin resigned on the grounds of ill health and died on November 9, 1940, having being visited by the King and Queen

 

 

 Dame Edith Evans ENGLISH ACTRESS
 8 February 1888 – 14 October 1976

  

Dame Edith Mary Evans was an English actress

She was best known for her work on the stage, but also appeared in films at the beginning and end of her career

Evans's stage career spanned sixty years during which time she played more than 100 roles. Evans became widely known for portraying haughty aristocratic women, as in one of her most famous roles: Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest.

Evans was born in Pimlico, London, the daughter of Edward Evans, a junior civil servant in the General Post Office, and his wife, Caroline Ellen née Foster. She had a brother who died at the age of four. She was educated at St Michael's Church of England School, Pimlico, before being apprenticed at the age of 15 in 1903 as a milliner. While working in a milliner's shop in the City, she began attending drama classes in Victoria; and she made her first stage appearance in October 1910, as Viola in Twelfth Night. In 1912, playing Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, she was spotted by the producer William Poel and made her first professional appearance for him in Cambridge

Evans's West End debut was in George Moore's [also a resident of Ebury street] Elizabeth Cooper in 1913. The play received poor notices, but Evans was praised: "In the very small part of a maid Miss Edith Evans made the success of the afternoon. She put more into her few minutes than most of our approved 'stars' can suggest in leading parts."

In January 1914, she made her professional Shakespearian debut as Gertrude in Hamlet.

In 1914, at Moore's instigation, Evans was given a year's contract by the Royalty Theatre in Soho. She played character roles in comedies, as a junior member of casts that included Gladys Cooper and Lynn Fontanne. Over the next ten years, she polished her craft in a wide range of parts and "a personal triumph" was in Alfred Sutro's comedy The Laughing Lady.

In the 1925–26 season, Evans joined the company of the Old Vic, playing a number of Shakespeare roles. The schedule of rehearsals and performances was hectic. She recalled, "It was altogether a momentous season for me. I lost 17lb in weight and on the only free day from rehearsal ran off and got married." Her husband was George (Guy) Booth (1882 or 1883–1935), an engineer whom she had known for more than twenty years; there were no children. Marriage to someone unconnected with the theatre suited Evans, who did not share the taste of many of her colleagues for what Gielgud called "publicity, gossip and backstage intrigue".

In 1952, She played Lady Bracknell on film (1952) and television (1960) but never again on the stage. During the Second World War Evans joined an ENSA company travelling to Gibraltar to entertain Allied troops. The following year she played in a West End revival of Heartbreak House. She toured for ENSA in Britain, Europe and India in 1944 and 1945. Returning to London, at the end of the war, she played Mrs Malaprop in The Rivals. The production was not liked by the critics, and Evans's performance drew respectful rather than ecstatic reviews.

Blue plaque at Evans's home

In 1948, Evans returned to the film studios after an absence of more than thirty years. At the instigation of Emlyn Williams, she appeared in The Last Days of Dolwyn. The cast included Williams, Richard Burton, in his first film, and Allan Aynesworth, who had created the role of Algernon in The Importance of Being Earnest in 1895 In the theatre, Evans returned to The Way of the World in 1948, exchanging the role of Millamant for that of the formidable old Lady Wishfort. The production received mixed notices and Evans's Wishfort – "like a preposterous caricature of Queen Elizabeth"

Over the next ten years, Evans played in only six stage productions because she appeared in long-running West End plays. From March 1949 to November 1950 and n the 1950s she made three films:

The Importance of Being Earnest (1952),

Look Back in Anger (1959) and The Nun's Story (1959)

The 1960s and 1970s - Her films from the first half of the 1960s were Tom Jones (1963), The Chalk Garden and Young Cassidy (both made in 1964). Her biggest film part of the 1960s was the central character, Mrs Ross, in The Whisperers for which she received an Oscar nomination and five major awards. After that, her screen appearances were in supporting roles in ten more films. When Edith Evans was 87, she played the Dowager Queen in The Slipper and the Rose (1975) in which she sang and danced. Evans's last stage roles were Mrs Forrest in The Chinese Prime Minister at the Globe (1965), the Narrator in The Black Girl in Search of God at the Mermaid (1968) and Carlotta in Dear Antoine, Chichester Festival (1971). After she found learning new roles too much, she presented an anthology of prose, poetry and music under the title Edith Evans and Friends, both in the West End and elsewhere. In this show, she made her final performance on the West End stage, on 5 October 1974.

Her last public appearance was a BBC radio programme With Great Pleasure, a selection of her favourite works, given before an invited audience in August 1976.

Evans died at her home in Kilndown, Kent, on 14 October 1976 at the age of 88. A blue plaque was unveiled outside her house at 109 Ebury Street, London, in 1997

 

Thomas Cubitt

  1788 - 1855 Master Builder

  

 Thomas Cubitt (25 February 1788 – 20 December 1855), born Buxton, Norfolk, was the leading master builder in London in the second quarter of the 19th century, and also carried out several projects in other parts of England, in particular, part of Buckingham Palace, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, Belgrave Square, Lowndes Square and Chesham Place. He is best known for his building of large parts of Belgravia and Pimlico for the 2nd Marquess of Westminster. He died worth over 1m a very considerable sum in Victorian England.

  The son of a Norfolk carpenter, Cubitt journeyed to India as ship's carpenter from which he earned sufficient funds to start his own building firm in 1810 on Gray's Inn Road, London.  He was one of the first builders to have a 'modern' system of employing all the trades under his own management.

  Cubitt's first major building was the London Institution in Finsbury Circus, built in 1815. After this, he worked primarily on speculative housing at Camden Town, Islington, and especially at Highbury Park, Stoke Newington (now part of Hackney.  He started to develop Bloomsbury including Gordon Square and Tavistock Square in  1820, for a group of landowners including the Duke of Bedford.

  Cubitt was commissioned in 1824 by Richard Grosvenor,  2nd Marquess of Westminster, to create a great swathe of building in Belgravia centred on Belgrave Square and Pimlico, in what was to become his greatest achievement in London. Notable amongst this development are the north and west sides of Eaton Square, which exemplify Cubitt's style of building and design.

 After his death, Queen Victoria said, "In his sphere of life, with the immense business he had in hand, he is a real national loss. A better, kindhearted or more simple, unassuming man never breathed."

  Thomas Cubitt's son by his wife Mary Anne Warner, George, who was created Baron Ashcombe in 1892, was the great-great-grandfather of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

  He died in 1855[6] and was taken from Dorking for burial at West Norwood Cemetery

 on 27 December 1855.

  Restaurants, pubs and other places have been named in his honour

 

Ian Fleming 1908 –1964

 

  

 Ian Lancaster Fleming was born in 1908 the son of Major Valentine and Evelyn Fleming. Valentine was MP for Henley and his grandfather was Robert Fleming, the financier and banker who founded the merchant bank Robert Fleming & Co. Valentine was killed on the western front in 1917. Ian was at Eton, although not a high achiever academically, he won the Victor Ludorum between 1925 and 1927.

 After Eton, he attended Sandhurst and contracted gonorrhea without gaining a commission. He then applied for the Foreign Office but failed the examinations. From there he joined Reuters, moving on to banking followed by stockbrokers Rowe and Pitman where he was not a success. In 1939 he began an affair with Anne Charteris who was married to Esmond Harmsworth, 2nd Viscount Rothermere. [Whose family owned the Daily Mail]

 In 1939 Rear Admiral Godfrey, the head of Naval Intelligence, recruited Fleming; he was then commissioned into the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and promoted to Commander a few months later. He excelled as Godfrey’s personal assistant and was frequently used as a liaison officer with other branches of Intelligence. In 1945 he was demobbed and settled in Jamaica where he befriended Noel Coward.

 In 1953 Casino Royale was published and was a great success and was the start of Fleming’s extremely successful career as an  author.

The name James Bond came from an ornithologist whose family [originally from Dorset were plantation owners. The following characters in the Bond books are based on:  Goldfinger [Erno Goldfinger], Scaramanga (at Eton, with whom he fought) who lived in Warwickshire and Drax [Admiral the Hon Sir Reginald Plunket Ernle Erle Drax]. David and Caroline Somerset {from Russia with Love] later became Duke and Duchess of Beaufort.

 Ian Fleming named his villains after school bullies. His nephew Mathew Fleming, who stayed with him during the holidays from Sunningdale Prep School, named two of his persecutors, one was Blofeld and the other was Scaramanga.  They were both prefects.  This was Fleming’s way of taking revenge on behalf of his nephew by using their names as enemies of James Bond.

 After the first James Bond film Dr No, the sales of Fleming’s books rocketed and in 1961 he began his association with Saltzman and Broccoli. Unfortunately, Ian Fleming had always been a heavy smoker and drinker. He suffered from heart disease and died aged 56 in 1964

 

Mary Wollstencraft Shelley

1797 - 1851. Novelist

  

Mary Shelley was the daughter of the philosopher William Godwin and feminist Mary Wollstencraft who died when Mary was eleven days old.  When she was four, Godwin married his neighbour, Mary Jane Clairmont.

In 1814 Mary began a relationship with one of her fathers political followers, Percy Byshe Shelley,who was already married. Mary became pregnant by Shelley and they married in 1816, after the suicide of Shelley’s first wife. In 1816 the couple famously spent the summer with Lord Byron in Switzerland where she conceived the idea for her novel Frankenstein which was published anonymously in 1816. When the Shelleys learned of  their friend, John Keat’s illness, they graciously invited him to stay with them in Italy. However the poet politely refused.  

 Percy Shelley wrote the beautiful elegy Adonais in the Spring of 1821upon Keats’s death. 

 Percy drowned in a storm in 1822 and in 1823 Mary returned to England to bring up her son and become a professional writer.  

 Mary Shelley died in 1851 at the age offifty three in Belgravia

 

 George Moore. 1852 – 1933. Novelist.

   

George Moore came from a landed catholic family who had originally made their fortune as wine merchants in Alicante.  George was born at Moore Hall co Mayo [later burned down by the IRA in 1923] comprising some 5,000 acres. His father also George was an independent MP for Mayo; he was a fair landlord who supported tenants rights. George (senior) originally wanted to be a painter and studied art in Paris in the 1870s.

George Moore (junior) became friendly with Oscar Wilde with whom he shared holidays.   Wilde quipped, “that Moore conducts his education in public”.  

 In 1868 the Moore family moved to London. His father died in 1870 and George inherited the family estate then valued at £3,596, which he let his brother, Maurice, manage. George then moved to Paris where he met many of the artists and writers of the time such as Degas, Renoir, Monet and Zola, who had an influence on his career as writer.

 In the 1880s he began his writing career which covered controversial issues such as prostitution, extramarital sex and lesbianism and one of his novels, A Drama in Muslin, was a about same sex relationships of unmarried daughters of the Anglo Irish gentry.  In 1924, George Moore also wrote Conversations in Ebury Street, a collection of articles stating his artistic opinions, including praise for Anne Brontë and disdain for Tolstoy and Dickens.

 Moore had a longstanding relationship with Lady Cunard [Maud].

Moore died in Ebury Street in 1933 worth £80,000 

 

 

Robert Boothby, Created Baron Boothby.

Conservative Politician. 1900-1986.

     

 Bob Boothby was born in 1900, the son of Sir Robert Boothby and Rosalind Kennedy, a cousin of the broadcaster and campaigner Sir Ludovic Kennedy. He was educated at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford. He undertook officer training at the end of World War 1 but was too young to seek active service. He was elected MP for Aberdeen and Kincardine East in 1924, also East Aberdeenshire, although he gave up this seat in 1958 when he was created a Peer.

 Boothby was Parliamentary Private Secretary to Winston Churchill from 1926-1929 and helped launch the Popular Front in 1936. He held a junior post in the Ministry of Food (1940-41) but was forced to resign for not declaring an interest. In World War 2 he joined the Royal Air Force Voluntary Reserve. He was a junior officer with Bomber Command, and then later in liaison with the Free French Forces, he received the Legion of Honour (in 1950) for his services.

 Boothby advocated the UK’s entry in the European Community (now the EU) and was a British delegate to the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe from 1949 – 1957. He was a prominent commentator on public affairs, taking part in ‘Any Questions’ and ‘This Is Your Life’ in 1953 where he advocated the virtues of eating herring. When meeting Hitler before the war Boothby did the Nazi salute saying “Heil Boothby” in a loud voice.

 Boothby’s personal life was colourful. He was openly bisexual at a time when homosexuality was a criminal offence and publicly campaigned for a homosexual law reform. He was married twice, firstly to Diana Cavendish in 1935 (divorced 1937) then to Wanda Sanna, a Sardinian and 33 years his junior. Ludovic Kennedy asserted that Boothby fathered 3 children by “the wives of other men”. From 1930, he had a long affair with Lady Dorothy Macmillan, sister of the 10th Duke of Devonshire and wife of Harold Macmillan. It was rumoured Robert was the father of Sarah Macmillan. This connection to Macmillan has been seen as the reason why the police did not investigate the death of the 10th Duke of Devonshire in the presence of suspected serial killer Dr John Bodkin Adams. It was thought that the police were wary of drawing press attention to Lady Dorothy while she was being unfaithful. 

 At Oxford, Boothby earned the nickname “the Palladium” because he was “twice nightly”; he later spoke of an affair with Michael Llewelyn Davies, one of the models for Peter Pan and fellow Oxonian, Rupert Buxton. In 1963 he began an affair with east end cat burglar Leslie Holt, who introduced him to Ronnie Kray. Kray supplied him with young men and in return, received favours.

 The story of Boothby’s affairs came to the attention of the Conservative-supporting Sunday Express; it was not published. However, the Labour-supporting Sunday Mirror reported it. Boothby denied the story and threatened to sue the Mirror. Senior Labour MP, Tom Driberg, a friend of Boothby and also a homosexual, sacked the editor and paid Boothby £40,000 in an out of court settlement. Somewhat embarrassingly Boothby campaigned on behalf of the Krays in the House of Lords. 

 Robert Boothby died in 1986 

 

 

Field Marshall 6th Viscount Gort VC.

(1866-1946)

     

  

 

Descended from a family of Anglo Irish aristocrats and landowners.

He distinguished himself by being awarded the Victoria Cross in 1918  at the battle of the Canal du Nord in France and became known as "Tiger Gort". During the 1930s he was Chief of the Imperial Staff and was made a Field Marshall. He commanded the British Expeditionary force to France in World War 2. He was Governor of Malta between 1942 and 1944. He probably has the distinction of being the highest ranking VC in British history

 

 

Prince Metternich. 1773-1859. Chancellor of Austria. 

 

   

 

 Klemens van Metternich was Foreign Minister and Chancellor of Austria, which he held from 1821 to 1848.  He was a politician and statesman and one of the most important diplomats of his era and only resigned in 1848,  the year of revolutions. One of his first tasks was to engineer a detente with France.  This embraced the marriage of Napoleon to the Austrian Archduchess Marie Louise. He then entered the war on the Allied side, signing the Treaty of Fontainebleau forcing Napoleon into exile.  He also led the Austrian delegation at the congress of Vienna in 1814. He once famously described Baring brothers as "the sixth great power."

 

The Prince largely enjoyed his time in London and leased a house at 44 Eaton Square. The 79 year-old Duke of Wellington tried to keep him entertained, although his sole   disappointment was that the young Queen Victoria did not acknowledge him. He also lived at Brunswick Terrace in Brighton.

Prince Matternich died in 1859

 

F. E. Smith. 1st Earl of Birkenhead.

 1872- 1930. Lord Chancellor.

  

 

Educated at Birkenhead School, having failed the entry exams to Harrow. He went to Wadham College, Oxford, becoming President of the Oxford Union. He became a successful advocate and obtained damages of some £50,000 for Lever Brothers from newspapers owned by Lord Northcliffe. He had just read a pile of papers 4 foot thick while consuming a bottle of champagne and a dozen oysters.

 The 1st Earl of Birkenhead was made Kings counsel in 1908.   He was one of the highest paid barristers in the country, earning   over £10,000 a year before World War 1, but he was a big spender. One of his most famous cases was defending Ethel Le Neve, successfully, the mistress of murderer, Dr Crippen.

 

 F.E. Smith became an MP for Walton in 1906 for the conservative Party. In 1919 he was made a peer Baron, later Earl of Birkenhead. He was appointed Lord Chancellor at the age of 47. A 1924 entry of Evelyn Waugh's diary, states that a High Court Judge asked Birkenhead's advice on sentencing in a case of sodomy. "Could you tell me" he asked "what do think one ought to give a man who has allowed himself to be buggered?”. Birkenhead swiftly replied, "Oh, thirty shillings or 2 pounds: whatever you happen to have on you."

Between 1924-1928 The Earl served as Secretary of State to India.

 

He frequently stopped at the Athenaeum to use the lavatory there on his way from the Carlton Club to the House of Lords and when asked by the doorman if he was a member he replied "Oh is this a club as well?"

1st Earl of Birkenhead died in 1930.