Wednesday, 31 October 2018
The Destruction of the Country House' exhibition held at the V&A in 1974.
3 November 2005 – 12 February 2006
Curator: Marcus Binney, President of SAVE Britain’s Heritage
This exhibition celebrated the 30th anniversary of the founding of
SAVE, a campaigning body working to save Britain’s architectural heritage.
The birth of SAVE was sparked by the immense publicity generated by the now legendary exhibition 'The Destruction of the Country House' held at the V&A in 1974. The exhibition’s Hall of Destruction was a fantasy of tumbling columns illustrating a selection of over 1,000 historic country houses demolished over the preceding century. In 1955 one house was demolished every five days. Such was the concern generated by the exhibition that from 1975 demolition of historic country houses came to a virtual halt. A sample of some of the success stories can be seen below.
Denying victory to the vandals
Marcus Binney looks back on a 30-year campaign to prevent the wilful destruction of fine houses by misguided officialdom
From The Times
November 18, 2005
THERE are few more provoking sights than a decent house abandoned and left to rot, whether it’s a grand country mansion or a simple terraced house. The battle to save such buildings is as urgent today as when I and a group of contemporaries set up SAVE Britain’s Heritage 30 years ago. That struggle is relevant because John Prescott and his minions are bent on destroying 160,000 terraced houses in the North of England and the Midlands. They are bamboozling people out of their homes on the say-so of a ten-minute inspection by a surveyor (at times unqualified) who often does not even look inside. These are houses that some couples have lived in for 40 years or more and hoped to die in, and which are excellent starter homes for the young.
SAVE began with a campaign to preserve an entire listed railway village at Bletchley, Buckinghamshire. Outrageously, we lost (and this was in 1975, the so-called European Architectural Heritage Year) but soon after we helped to secure a reprieve for all the pretty, pink brick houses in the early railway village at Derby, as well as a handsome Regency terrace of 29 houses, Shepherdess Walk in Hackney, which local councillors were determined to demolish.
SAVE grew out of a V&A exhibition, The Destruction of the Country House, which John Harris and I organised for Sir Roy Strong in 1974. For this we had compiled a list of no fewer than 1,116 notable country houses demolished in Britain in the preceding century. The ensuing furore brought demolitions to an almost complete halt, but we soon found that there were not just dozens, but hundreds, of interesting country houses standing empty or under threat.
One of our press releases quoted in The Times resoundingly condemned Baroness Birk, the minister responsible for listed buildings, for giving permission to demolish two thirds of Brough Hall in North Yorkshire, a lovely Elizabethan and Palladian house, to make it more “manageable” to restore. Lady Birk was soaring off to the Caribbean on Christmas Eve when she read the article and at once demanded, we heard later, that the plane should turn back.
When we published Tomorrow’s Ruins, our first report on country houses in need of new owners and new uses, we included a small section on fine listed country houses which were for sale. A Norfolk newspaper unfortunately published a picture of one of these, the immaculate East Barsham Manor, under a headline suggesting that it was falling into ruin. The next day I received a stern telephone call from the affronted Scandinavian lady owner saying: “Watch out, Mr Binney, or you will soon be one of tomorrow’s ruins yourself.”
For years it was an almost impossible task to get government and local authorities to do anything to stop wilful decay by eccentric or maverick owners. Sir John Soane’s Pell Wall in Shropshire was actually set on fire by its owner.
Mavisbank, a beautiful Baroque villa just south of Edinburgh, belonged to a monstrous man who had surrounded it with abandoned cars and caravans with the evident purpose of making it such an eyesore that he would win permission to build all over the large park. One morning we received a call saying a Dangerous Structure Notice had been issued and Mavisbank would be demolished in 24 hours. The only hope lay in an emergency hearing in the sheriff court. We promptly put up £500 to support a court action and won the necessary reprieve.
Grange Park in Hampshire, now an aspiring rival to Glyndebourne with its summer season of opera, was another target. When Lord Ashburton (or “Basher” Baring, as he was known in the 1970s) agreed to halt demolition of the house, he went one better and handed it over to the Government as an ancient monument. Yet four years later the house was still falling down, thanks to a particular civil servant who had determined that not a penny of public money should be spent on repairs. We obtained a copy of the guardianship deed in which the Secretary of State solemnly undertook to repair the house and open it to the public. Fat hope! But when our solicitors got fed up with prevaricating answers and said that we would issue next day a writ of mandamus, an order to make a minister do what statute obliges him to do, ministers caved in and the Parthenon-like Greek Doric portico was restored to its original splendour.
No case was more challenging than the 18th-century Barlaston Hall in Staffordshire by Sir Robert Taylor, the architect on whom I had written my dissertation at Cambridge. The chairman of Wedgwood, Sir Arthur Bryan, had taken against the house, which stood on an estate that the company had chosen as the site for its new model factory, boarded the windows up and let the rain pour through the roof. Finally, at the second public inquiry into demolition, Wedgwood’s QC challenged the opposition to buy the house for £1 and restore it ourselves. SAVE promptly took up the challenge and the inspector proffered the 10p deposit.
Over 30 years SAVE’s aim has been not just to protest, but to propose practical solutions. Fine old buildings do not need to be dependants on the state but can be good investments. The best solution in many cases is for them to be restored — or converted — for people to live in.
Marcus Hugh Crofton Binney is the son of Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Francis Crofton Simms MC and his wife, Sonia (née Beresford Whyte). His father was held as a prisoner of war in Italy during the Second World War. His mother worked in code-breaking. Following his father's death and his mother's remarriage to Sir George Binney (DSO) in 1955, Marcus took his stepfather's surname.
Binney was educated at Eton College and read history of art at the University of Cambridge. The architect Walter Ison was a family friend, who encouraged the young Binney to study Sir Robert Taylor for his PhD.
Binney married The Hon. Sara Anne Vanneck, daughter of Sir Gerald Charles Arcedeckne Vanneck, 6th Baron Huntingfield, on 23 August 1966. They were divorced in 1976. She died in 1979. Binney has since remarried to Anne (née Hills).
Binney has two children: Francis Charles Thomas Binney and Christopher George Crofton Binney, a marine biologist and a chef respectively.
Binney was a co-curator of the Destruction of the Country House exhibition, held at the V&A in 1974, with Roy Strong and John Harris, which gave impetus to the movement to conserve British country houses. He was a driving force behind the foundation of SAVE Britain's Heritage (SAVE) the following year, and remains its president. SAVE is devoted to the salvation of Britain's architectural heritage and retention of such buildings for the nation. It campaigns for the preservation and reuse of endangered historic buildings, placing particular emphasis on finding new uses for them.
In 1975 he was awarded the London Conservation Medal. He was also involved in the foundation of the Railway Heritage Trust and the Thirties Society, and SAVE Jersey's Heritage, was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2004, and has been a vice-president of the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society since 2005.
Binney was instrumental in saving Calke Abbey and its contents for the nation in 1984; he had highlighted and publicised the loss to the nation of such historic houses following the failure of SAVE's attempts to preserve Mentmore Towers, a decade earlier.
He also writes widely on the conservation of the built environment. From 1977 until 1984 he was Architectural Editor of the British Country Life magazine. He served as Editor from 1984 to 1986 and continues to contribute articles to the magazine. He has been the architectural correspondent of The Times since 1991. He was founding Chairman of Heritage Link in 2002.
Binney is also the author of numerous books, mostly concerned with the preservation of Britain's architectural heritage; while many of these can be typified by such titles as "The Country House: To Be or Not to Be" and "Re-use of Industrial Buildings" he has also written books dealing with the experiences of those involved in secret operations during World War II, such as "Secret War Heroes: The Men of Special Operations" and "The Women Who Lived for Danger". He has lectured on architecture in the USA, and narrated a 39-part television series "Mansions: The Great Houses of Europe" from 1993 to 1997, broadcast widely in North America, the Middle East and the Far East.
In recognition of his services to conservation and Britain's heritage, he was awarded an OBE in 1983, and advanced to CBE in 2006.
John Frederick Harris
John Frederick Harris OBE (1931- ) is an English curator, historian of architecture, gardens and architectural drawings, and the author of more than 25 books and catalogues, and 200 articles. He is a Fellow and Curator Emeritus of the Drawings Collection of the Royal Institute of British Architects, founding Trustee of SAVE Britain's Heritage and SAVE Europe's Heritage, and founding member and Honorary Life President of the International Confederation of Architectural Museums.
John Harris left school at the age of 14 in 1946. He travelled and took on miscellaneous jobs, before starting his proper career in 1954 working in an antiques shop, Collin and Winslow. In 1956 he joined the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Library and Drawings Collection in London, becoming curator of its British Architectural Library's Drawings Collection from 1960-86. This included the establishment in 1972 of a permanent home for the Drawings Collection in the James Adam designed house at 21 Portman Square (moved to the V&A Henry Cole Wing in 2002), next door to and sharing with the Courtauld Institute at Home House, 20 Portman Square (moved to Somerset House in 1989). Harris founded and organised 42 exhibitions at the Heinz Gallery, on the ground floor of 21 Portman Square, opened in 1972, designed by Stefan Buzas and Alan Irvine, given by Mr and Mrs Henry J Heinz II, being the first purpose built gallery for the display of architectural drawings in the English speaking world. The Gallery was purchased in 2000 by the Irish Architectural Archive and moved in 2003-4 to the ground floor of their relocated premises at 45 Merrion Square, Dublin, which opened to the public in 2005. RIBA's Drawings Collection Gallery was re-established in 2004 as part of the joint V&A and RIBA Architecture Partnership, creating the Architecture Gallery in Room 128 at the V&A.
Harris was a co-curator of the seminal Destruction of the Country House exhibition held at the V&A in 1974, with Sir Roy Strong and Marcus Binney, which gave impetus to the movement to conserve British country houses and the founding in 1975 of SAVE Britain's Heritage. He was editor of Studies in Architecture 1976-99. In 1996 he was a visiting scholar at the Getty Research Center, Getty Villa , Santa Monica. Harris also played a crucial role in the establishment of the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal and the Heinz Architecture Centre in the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. He was a member for ten years of Mr Paul Mellon’s London Acquisitions Committee. Harris worked on the Victoria and Albert Primary Galleries Project (1996–2001). He has been on the Board of Trustees of The Architecture Foundation. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. He is an expert on Palladian architecture, and has written about, among many others, Lord Burlington, William Kent and Sir William Chambers.
Harris is married to American historian and author Dr Eileen Harris (from circa 1961), has a son, Lucian, and a daughter, Georgina, and lives in London and Badminton, Gloucestershire.
Sir Roy Colin Strong
Sir Roy Colin Strong FRSL (born 23 August 1935) is an English art historian, museum curator, writer, broadcaster and landscape designer. He has been director of both the National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He was knighted in 1982.
He became assistant keeper of the National Portrait Gallery in 1959, and was its director 1967-73: Sir Roy came to prominence at age 32 when he became the youngest director of the National Portrait Gallery. He set about transforming its conservative image with a series of extrovert shows, including "600 Cecil Beaton portraits 1928-1968." Dedicated to the culture of the 1960s and 1970s, Sir Roy went on to wow audiences at the V&A in 1974 with his collection of fedora hats, kipper ties and maxi coats. By regularly introducing new exhibitions he doubled attendance.
Reflecting on his time as director of the National Portrait Gallery, Sir Roy Strong pinpoints the exhibition "Beaton Portraits 1928-1968" as a turning point in the gallery’s history. Strong chose fashion photographer Cecil Beaton as a catalyst for change says much about the glamour and appeal of the photographer’s work. But even so, it seems unlikely that anyone could have predicted the sheer scale of the exhibition’s success. "The public flocked to the exhibition and its run was extended twice. The queues to get in made national news. The Gallery had arrived", Strong wrote in the catalogue to Beaton Portraits, the more recent exhibition of Beaton that ran at the gallery until 31 May 2004.
In 1973, aged 39, he became the youngest director of the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), London. In his tenure, until 1987, he presided over its The Destruction of the Country House (1974, with Marcus Binney and John Harris), Change and Decay: the future of our churches (1977), and The Garden: a Celebration of a Thousand Years of British Gardening (1979), all of which have been credited with boosting their conservationist agendas. In 1980, "he was awarded the prestigious Shakespeare Prize by the FVS Foundation of Hamburg in recognition of his contribution to the arts in the UK."
After she'd gone
Historian Roy Strong and his wife Julia made a garden that represented their personalities - and their marriage, he writes. When she died, how was he to carry on?
The Guardian, Saturday 21 October 2006
I never warmed to Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson. They always stuck in my mind as condescending snobs - that feeling fortified by the memory of being snubbed by Nicolson when I was a young man. And yet, in the past three years, I've felt a curious sense of identity with them, for Vita died six years before Harold. Some years ago, I recall editing my hostile view of them on reading an article by the garden designer John Brookes, describing Harold sitting on a garden bench weeping at her loss. With that I can wholly identify.
For 30 years, my late wife, the film, television and theatre designer Julia Trevelyan Oman, and I worked together making the Laskett garden. I have written about this in a book published the week she died, three years ago. As far as I know, Harold never wrote about what he did to Sissinghurst after Vita was no more, but in the case of the Laskett, I most certainly can.
Julia had been brought up to garden, but I hadn't. By some miracle, however, furor hortensis seized me within weeks of acquiring the house, and complete madness set in when the farmer no longer wanted the adjacent three-acre field. That was when delusions of grandeur took over and we struck out to make a huge country house garden.
Although Julia was by profession a distinguished designer, it was I who planned the layout with its many enclosures and vistas. Julia did much of the planting, with a feeling for naturalistic drifts and a close focus approach that was at variance with my bold strokes yet, at the same time, complementary.
The garden was always divided into "his" and "hers" areas: Julia's naturalistic, or concerned with produce in the orchard or kitchen garden; mine with the formal enclosures, parterres, knots, topiary and architectural elements. We never quarrelled over the garden - or, come to that, over anything, really. But Julia was parsimonious, whereas I can be somewhat prodigal, so I always had to conceal, for example, that I'd bought a statue or urn.
A garden may be a happy repository of memory, but what it most forcefully tells you is to move on. In a "his and hers" garden, the problem after Julia died was how to cope with the areas that were wholly hers. Julia was always the better plants person and, in that instance, I was lucky, for Shaun, our wonderful gardener, has a genuine flair for naturalistic and wild planting. He is also deeply respectful of my wife's passions: her snowdrop, pulmonaria, apple and crab apple collections. Much to my relief, he took on the kitchen garden in which Julia had laboured every evening in spring and summer. Even in the first year after her death, it looked ravishing. Shaun had scattered through flowers - dahlias, nasturtiums, cornflowers and tobacco plants - as well as growing a wide variety of squashes just for the beauty of their leaves and fruit. I give him free rein to buy plants, and together we order the bulbs each year, a task that Julia always performed.
So far so good, but marriage is a compromise, and inevitably when one half has gone there is a shift. I suppose that might be summed up in our case as a perpetual battle between clarity and clutter. Julia loved being embowered. The windowsills were covered in plants spiralling upwards, so you could hardly see out. The house was hidden behind a yew hedge and approached not from the front but the side. The paths she had laid were narrow, allowing abundant planting, but making passage through any area an obstacle course. My own instincts were always towards clarity and, above all, opening up the dialogue between the house and the garden. And that - initially tentatively, then latterly quite brusquely - is what I have done. The yew hedge was demolished and a new approach made so that the facade can be seen head-on across the knot garden. Stunning.
There's a new herb garden being made, and an ongoing programme with an arboriculturist. Thirty years on, you have to take stock. Conifers put in when 3ft high are now soaring up 60 or 100ft. One or two have turned their toes up. So we began thinning what was overplanted, something Julia would never have let me do. But now that the light pours in, plants can thrive, and some very beautiful and unexpected new garden vistas have been revealed.
It has also made me think about the garden's fate. I'm in my 72nd year and I'm not immortal. Julia and I had always wished that a wider public could enjoy our life's work. Both of us also felt that we did not want it to be a mummified shrine, but to continue to grow and change. With it would go some 60 volumes of archive, recording its complete history in hundreds, if not thousands, of photos, plans and invoices. To my great delight, I've alighted upon just the right trust to pass it on to. With the garden's future in place and, with luck, quite a stretch of time ahead, I can now apply my creative energies to making this garden even more magical than I believe it already is.
Publicada por Jeeves em 00:18
Sunday, 28 October 2018
TOM DRIBERG : "A journalist, an intellectual, a drinking man, a gossip, a high churchman, a liturgist, a homosexual / "VIDEO: Ronnie Kray - Scandal
"Thomas Edward Neil Driberg ( 1905-1976 ) was, successively, at school with Evelyn Waugh, at Oxford with W.H. Auden, compiler of the “William Hickey” gossip-column for the Daily Express, an Independent – later Labour – MP for the remote Essex constituency of Maldon ( 1942-1955 ), Chairman of the Labour Party, Labour MP for the east London seat of Barking ( 1959 – 1974 ) and, at the end very end of his life, ennobled as Baron Bradwell Juxta Mare. He was also a high-churchman, a socialite, an associate with the Kray twins, a friend of Mick Jagger – whom he encouraged to stand for Parliament – a promiscuous homosexual and a snob, who after surveying the guests at the party given to celebrate his seventieth birthday remarked to a friend, ‘One Duke, two Dukes’ daughters , sundry lords, a bishop, a poet laureate – not bad for an old left-wing MP, eh ?"
D.J. Taylor in The New Book of Snobs / 2016
"A journalist, an intellectual, a drinking man, a gossip, a high churchman, a liturgist, a homosexual", the first time, according to journalist Christopher Hitchens, that the newspaper had ever defined a public figure specifically as homosexual.
Nevertheless, Driberg's incomplete memoir Ruling Passions, when published in June 1977, was a shock to the public and to some of his erstwhile associates, despite advance hints of the book's scandalous content. Driberg's candid revelations of his "cottaging" and his descriptions of casual oral sex were called by one commentator "the biggest outpouring of literary dung a public figure has ever flung into print." The comedians Peter Cook and Dudley Moore depicted Driberg as a sexual predator, wearing "fine fishnet stockings" and cavorting with a rent boy, in a sketch, "Back of the Cab", which they recorded in 1977.
More vituperation followed when Pincher's allegations of Driberg's links with the Russian secret service were published in 1981; Pincher christened him "Lord of the Spies". However, Foot dismissed these accusations as typical of the "fantasies of the secret service world that seem to have taken possession of Pincher's mind". Foot added that Driberg "had always been much too ready to look forgivingly on Communist misdeeds, but this attitude was combined with an absolutely genuine devotion to the cause of peace".
In his 2004 biographical sketch Davenport-Hines describes Driberg as "a sincere if eccentric Christian socialist who detested racism and colonialism", who at the same time "could be pompous, mannered, wayward, self-indulgent, ungrateful, bullying and indiscreet". As to the apparent contradiction between sincere Christianity and promiscuous homosexuality, Wheen argues that "there had been a recognisable male homosexual subculture in the Anglo-Catholic movement since the late nineteenth century". This theme is explored in a paper by David Hilliard of Flinders University, who maintains that "the [19th century] conflict between Protestantism and Anglo-Catholicism within the Church of England was ... regularly depicted by Protestant propagandists as a struggle between masculine and feminine styles of religion".
After the publication of his relatively sympathetic portrait of Burgess in 1956, Driberg had been denounced as a "dupe of Moscow" by some elements of the press. Two years after Driberg's death, the investigative reporter Chapman Pincher alleged that he had been "a Kremlin agent of sympathy" and a supporter of Communist front organisations. In 1979 Andrew Boyle published The Climate of Treason, which exposed Anthony Blunt and led to a period of "spy mania" in Britain. Boyle's exhaustive account of the Burgess–Maclean–Philby–Blunt circle mentioned Driberg as a friend of Burgess, "of much the same background, tastes and views", but made no allegations that he was part of any espionage ring.
In this atmosphere, Pincher published Their Trade is Treachery (1981), in which he maintained that Driberg had been recruited by MI5 to spy on the Communist Party while still a schoolboy at Lancing, and that he was later "in the KGB's pay as a double agent". Other writers added further details; the former British Intelligence officer Peter Wright, in Spycatcher (1987), alleged that Driberg had been "providing material to a Czech controller for money". The former Kremlin archivist Vasili Mitrokhin asserted that the Soviets had blackmailed Driberg into working for the KGB by threatening to expose his homosexuality. In a 2016 biography of Burgess, Andrew Lownie reports that Driberg was "caught in a KGB sting operation" at a Moscow urinal, and as a result agreed to work as a Soviet agent.
The weight of information, and its constant repetition, made an apparently strong case against Driberg, and former friends such as Mervyn Stockwood, the Bishop of Southwark, became convinced that he had indeed betrayed his country. Other friends and colleagues were more sceptical. According to ex-Labour MP Reginald Paget, not even the security services were "lunatic enough to recruit a man like Driberg", who was famously indiscreet and could never keep a secret. Mitrokhin's "blackmail" story is questioned by historian Jeff Sharlet, on the grounds that by the 1950s and 1960s Driberg's homosexuality had been an open secret in British political circles for many years; he frequently boasted of his "rough trade" conquests to his colleagues. The journalist A. N. Wilson quotes Churchill commenting years before that "Tom Driberg is the sort of person who gives sodomy a bad name".
Pincher, however, argued that as homosexual acts were criminal offences in Britain until 1967, Driberg was still vulnerable to blackmail, although he also claimed that the MI5 connection secured Driberg a lifelong immunity from prosecution. Driberg's colleague Michael Foot denied Pincher's claim that Margaret Thatcher, when prime minister, had made a secret agreement with Foot to protect Driberg if Foot, in turn, would remain silent about the supposed treachery of Roger Hollis, another of Pincher's recently dead targets.
Wheen asserts that Pincher was not an objective commentator; the Labour Party, and its supposed infiltration by Communist agents, had been his target over many years. Pincher's verdict on Driberg is that "in journalism, in politics and intelligence ... eventually he betrayed everybody".Wheen argues that Driberg's greatest vice was indiscretion; he gossiped about everyone, but "indiscretion is not synonymous with betrayal". Driberg's Labour Party colleague, Leo Abse, offers a more complex explanation: Driberg was an adventurer who loved taking risks and played many parts. "Driberg could have played the part of the spy with superb skill, and if the officers of MI5 were indeed inept enough to have attempted to recruit him, then, in turn, Tom Driberg would have gained special pleasure in fooling and betraying them".
Labor MP with a knack for gossip, sex
REVIEWED BY MARTIN RUBIN
By - The Washington Times - Sunday, September 1, 2002
Of all the odd ducks ever to grace the benches of the British House of Lords in the 20th century, there can have been fewer characters more genuinely strange than Baron Bradwell of Bradwell juxta Mare in the County of Essex. But his perch upon the red benches at Westminster was only the last act in a life filled with improbabilities. Better known throughout his seven decades on this earth as Tom Driberg, he was a mass of contradictions.
Longtime member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, which he joined in his teens, he was also a passionate adherent of the most High Church form of the Church of England. Neither of these convictions interfered with his being a high-paid gossip columnist for the Express Newspapers, whose proprietor Lord Beaverbrook, a right-wing Tory, was also the subject of a rather problematic biography by this longtime employee.
A Labor Party MP from the early 1940s to the mid 1970s, he was in Parliament as in his journalism as much a scourge of Labour as of Conservative governments. The most promiscuous and predatory of homosexuals (but no pederast), he was married for the quarter-century before his death, an alliance detailed in this biography as one of the oddest and unhappiest marital unions ever.
All this and there is more obviously makes for a rich subject for biography and Francis Wheen, author of a recent life of Karl Marx, has made, if not the most of this embarras de richesse, at the very least a pretty decent job of it. After a rocky start with a polemical, opinionated, even bitchy, introduction, which might put some readers off, the text of the biography itself is lively, often judicious, and generally sound. Best of all, it lets Driberg speak for himself as much as possible and his distinctive voice in journalism, political speeches, and letters adds an extra piquancy to an already tasty dish.
Mr. Wheen begins his narrative with Driberg's death in a London taxicab in August 1976. Driberg had partially completed the autobiography which would appear the next year entitled "Ruling Passions." Although it was to date one of the frankest homosexual biographies and created quite a stir, not least among those who feared being named (sexually) in it, there might have been still more shocks had Driberg lived a little longer. Ever "the soul of indiscretion," the erstwhile author of the William Hickey column in the Daily Express was truly a world-class gossip. The trouble is, that he was also one of the greatest fantasists ever.
Biographer Wheen does an admirable job of trying to sort the wheat from the chaff in Driberg's tall and lowlife tales, but is, understandably, not always able to come to a definitive conclusion.Those who love rooting around in muddy waters will find the whole process vastly enjoyable; those who find it distasteful will probably not want to read a book about Driberg anyway.
This is not to say that "The Soul of Indiscretion" is merely a frivolous, gossipy book nor that the life it chronicles was without serious significance. Mr. Wheen is clearly charmed by his subject, occasionally even delighted by him, but he is also sometimes exasperated by him. On the whole, he is a realistic judge of where Driberg stood politically. But on the vexed issue of whether Driberg was actually a Soviet agent, Mr. Wheen may let his subject off too easily.
Certainly, Driberg made no secret of his pro-Soviet sympathies, but after all sometimes the best place to hide something is in plain sight. In the end, Mr. Wheen thinks Driberg was too unreliable and untrustworthy to have been a likely candidate to attract the attentions of the KGB. (What about Guy Burgess, one is tempted to ask surely more endowed with every bad quality possessed by Driberg?)
Yet certainly Driberg was capable of the kind of surprises that would not have gone down well with the Soviets: for instance, his sympathetic, firsthand reporting from Korea of the British troops fighting there. (Indeed, his staunch support of the Anglo-American position in the Korean War stands in stark contrast to Mr. Wheen's perfervid and hostile account of this UN-backed conflict.) Since this book was originally published, new accusations more or less credible have surfaced about Driberg's spying activities. Would they have changed this biographer's judgment? It's hard to know, but I suspect not.
The chapter on Driberg's marriage to the equally devout socialist Mrs. Ena Mary Binfield in 1951 is a fascinating study of Driberg at his most contradictory, puzzling, and unaccountable.
He must certainly have been one of the worst husbands on record: neglectful, nasty, vituperative and totally unwilling to give of himself in any way, including sexually. Indeed, he even managed to portray himself as a victim when he excoriated her for attempting to "pounce" on him during their honeymoon. Did he marry merely to provide a chateleine for his country house? Perhaps he was attempting to cloak his disreputable private life in a measure of respectability for political advantage.
Mr. Wheen's exploration of his motives and conduct as a husband are a model of judicious deduction from the sources available. Ena's letters, reproduced at length here, must induce sympathy even in the most stony-hearted of readers and Mr. Wheen has brought to life a woman known previously only as the butt of a cruel joke by Winston Churchill, who famously quipped, when told of Driberg's marriage to a less than beautiful lady: "Well, you know what they say, buggers can't be choosers."
Tom Driberg's life is fascinating at least in part because of the people he knew and Mr. Wheen does an excellent job of acquainting us with how such varied characters as Lord Mountbatten and Mick Jagger came to figure in this most unusual of 20th century political lives. Driberg himself stands out as a most unpleasant man, as unappealing when he is a schoolboy friend of Evelyn Waugh as when he is a denizen of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party.
If he was himself unhappy and his constant self-pity shows that he clearly was he managed whether in his columns or in person to entertain most people.
His contributions to political and public life were not great, but in his private life he definitely had a talent to amuse, something which he continues to do in the pages of this colorful and fluent biography. Indeed, he could entertain the most unlikely people, as in the incredibly obscene crossword puzzles which he produced for the British publication Private Eye in the last years of his life.
The winner of the 2-pound prize for a particularly lubricious puzzle in 1972 was a Mrs Rosalind Runcie, wife of the-then Bishop of St. Albans, later Archbishop of Canterbury in the Thatcher years. There's truly no end to the surprising circles into which Driberg's life and pen could propel him.
Martin Rubin is a writer in Pasadena, Calif.
THE SOUL OF INDISCRETION: TOM DRIBERG, POET, PHILANDERER, LEGISLATOR AND OUTLAW
By Francis Wheen
Police blocked from charging former Labour MP Tom Driberg with sexually abusing boys, claims Simon Danczuk
MP says new allegations concerning the former party chairman were made by retired Met Police detective sergeant
Thursday 3 December 2015 20:05
Police suspected that a former Labour party chairman was sexually abusing teenage boys but were blocked from bringing charges by the Director of Public Prosecutions, a campaigning MP has claimed.
The openly gay Labour MP Tom Driberg was a friend of the Krays and a KGB spy
Police suspected that a former Labour party chairman was sexually abusing teenage boys but were blocked from bringing charges by the Director of Public Prosecutions, a campaigning MP has claimed.
The new allegations concern Tom Driberg, a prominent Labour politician in the 1950s and 1960s, and were made by retired detective sergeant in the Metropolitan Police, according to the Simon Danczuk, Labour MP for Rochdale.
“He told my office that in 1968 he was a junior member of a team who monitored a succession of teenage escapees from Feltham Young offenders Institute entering the house of Tom Driberg,” said Mr Danczuk, during a speech at the Cass Business School, London, on Wednesday evening.
“[Michael Cookson, the police offficer] alleges that the boys were interviewed and it soon became clear that they had been abused by Driberg and wanted charges to be brought against him. So did the police and filed an application to charge to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Norman Skelhorn,” he added.
Mr Danczuk said the retired officer, who contacted his office last year, claimed police were confident an arrest would take place.
“They were clear that obvious crimes were being committed. But then nothing happened. Eventually, he said word came back that Skelhorn had ruled out any chance of prosecution and they were told not to proceed with the case because it was not in the public interest.
The Rochdale MP added: “If Cookson’s story is true, I certainly don’t think it’s unique. I’d heard similar stories from officers trying to investigate Cyril Smith and I’m sure this type of scenario repeated itself with other important people.”
Sir Norman Skelhorn also blocked attempts to prosecute Liberal MP Cyril Smith and the Conservative MP Victor Montagu for the sexual abuse of boys, he claimed.
“What kind of message does that send out? That if you are among society’s elites then you have carte blanche to sexually abuse poorer people. I believe this attitude has long been ingrained in certain sections of society and has poisoned our justice system,” said Mr Danczuk.
Mr Driberg started out as a journalist, founding the William Hickey gossip column in the Daily Express, before becoming the MP for Maldon in 1942. By 1957 he was chairman of the Labour Party, a role he stepped down from in 1958. He spent 15 years as MP for Barking before being made a life peer in 1975.
But the openly gay politician’s private life saw him repeatedly come under police scrutiny. In 1935 he was acquitted of ‘gross indecency’ with two strangers. And he was caught with a Norwegian sailor in 1943, but not arrested. His friendship with the Kray twins led to MI5 keeping a file on him amid allegations that the Krays would provide ‘rent boys’ for Mr Driberg. And it emerged in 1999 that the Labour politician, who died in 1976, had also been a KGB spy codenamed Lepage. ”
The retired police officer who made the allegations regarding Mr Driberg has since died, but Mr Danczuk has written to Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions, demanding she disclose any documents relating to the former Labour Party chair, who died in 1976. Speaking to The Independent, Mr Danczuk said: “Perhaps some of the victims are still out there, and perhaps it would help them to know if he was suspected of committing these types of crimes.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Crown Prosecution Service said: “We can confirm we have received the letter.
Everybody in the house
Frances Wilson is an author, biographer and critic, whose works include The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth.Her most recent book is How to Survive the Titanic, or the Sinking of J Bruce Ismay.She reviews for the TLS, the Telegraph and the New Statesman.
Not all the "Bright Young People" who dominated the celebrity pages in the latter half of the 1920s had brightness or youth on their side, at least not at the same time. And while each was clearly a person, or at least a "has-been", as the notorious Stephen Tennant boasted, identification with the rest of humanity was not one of the group's more memorable characteristics. The left- wing gossip columnist Tom Driberg was unusual in being bright, young, and supposedly on the side of the people, but as Lord Beaverbrook pointed out, Driberg's communism was of the cafe variety - to which the bright young reporter brightly retorted: "Clear thinking need not imply poor feeding." Another well-fed clear think er was Robert Byron, who wrote erudite tomes about Byzantium at the same time as cavorting at parties in the guise of a drunken Queen Victoria.
Driberg and Byron were part of a clique so select you could squash them all into the back of a Rolls. The selection process was, however, surprisingly democratic. Bright young people could be middle-class like Cecil Beaton, driven like Harold Acton, directionless like Brian Howard, aristocratic like Elizabeth Ponsonby, trade like Bryan Guinness, fascist like Oswald Mosley, Jewish like Tom Driberg, and even heterosexual, like Evelyn Waugh. What drew them all together was what Patrick Balfour, another insider, recognised as "impulse", to which can be added a restlessness that today we might call melancholia.
While millions of unemployed marched the streets, "High Bohemia", as the press called this group, were playing their fiddles. Bored with being themselves, they hosted impersonation parties, hermaphrodite parties, sailor parties, Episcopal parties, Mozart parties, second childhood parties, White parties, Black and Red parties, and the party with which D J Taylor begins his fascinating study of hedonism, futility, and fracture, the Bath and Bottle party, held in a municipal swimming pool and regarded as the social event of the season. Brenda Dean Paul, one of the bright young people who was still there in the morning, recalled the night in elegiac terms, "turgid water and thousands of bobbing champagne corks, discarded bathing caps and petal-strewn tiles as the sun came out and filtered through the giant skylights of St George's Baths, and we wended our way home". Every party was experienced as the last.
This was an age in which not only were Brian and Brenda swanky names, but the shadows of war were such that the brightness of a few party-goers could be blinding. While the press was obsessed with these celebrities, nothing could match their self-obsession. When not falling over each other at the same events, they wrote about themselves continually - and usually very well - in novels, poems, plays, diaries, newspaper columns and letters. Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies, in which he dramatised the lifestyle of his friends, is Taylor's primary source and he reads the novel as reportage rather than fiction. But in order to get to the heart of this "lost generation", Taylor uses the journals and letters of Arthur and Dolly Ponsonby, who watched their daughter Elizabeth - the Hon Agatha Runcible in Vile Bodies - dissolve into a world of dissipation, and die of drink before she reached 40.
It is the Ponsonby archive that provides the emotional heart of Bright Young People, and transforms it from a superior social history into a complex study of family, fear and breakdown. The daughter of a Labour peer and a pacifist, Elizabeth was clever, accomplished, charming, cultured, and with a death-drive so determined that it overrode all else. Her rage for superficiality left her thoughtful parents utterly baffled, and examples of their bafflement serve as a Greek chorus throughout the book. "My daughter has drifted back into the chaos of extravagance," reads a typical entry in her father's journal; "E's affairs utterly hopeless", "E draining us as usual and refusing to find a job", until "the astonishingly lovely face as she lay there dead".
Compared with the tragedy of Elizabeth Ponsonby's listlessness, Brian Howard's failure to become a writer is comic relief. Howard, sent up as Johnny Hoop in Vile Bodies and ridiculed by Cyril Connolly in "Where Engels Fears to Tread", is wonderfully described by Taylor in a sub-chapter devoted to "The Books Brian Never Wrote", books with titles such as Splendours and Decorations of Bavaria, and The Divorce of Heaven and Hell.
Taylor's achievement is to remind us that there are few periods of recent history more culturally interesting than the years between the wars. I guarantee that before you have reached the final page of Bright Young People, you will be searching out everything ever written by Waugh, Anthony Powell, and Nancy Mitford, and will even have placed an order for the poetry of Brian Howard.
Frances Wilson's "The Courtesan's Revenge" is published by Faber & Faber from Mr Danczuk and we will reply in due course.”
Scoop! The shockingly intimate truth of how Evelyn Waugh's gay Oxford lover became Brideshead Revisited’s Sebastian
A new biography uncovers the reality behind Brideshead Revisited
Novel drew upon Evelyn Waugh's bohemian lifestyle at Oxford University
The biography coincides with the 50th anniversary of Waugh's death
Evelyn Waugh: A Life Revisited, by Philip Eade, will be published on July 7
By PHILIP EADE FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY
PUBLISHED: 22:21 GMT, 2 April 2016 | UPDATED: 23:36 GMT, 2 April 2016
Endlessly evocative, Evelyn Waugh's hymn to a vanished age of aristocracy has delighted and entranced generations.
Now, as the 50th anniversary of Waugh's death approaches, a powerful new biography uncovers the reality behind Brideshead Revisited - and the shockingly intimate truth that inspired a masterpiece of nostalgia.
Brideshead Revisited is about ‘very rich, beautiful, high-born people who live in palaces and have no troubles except what they make themselves and those are mainly the demons sex and drink which after all are easy to bear as troubles go nowadays’, Evelyn Waugh wrote to a friend.
Suffused with nostalgia for a disappearing aristocratic way of life, the novel draws heavily upon Evelyn’s bohemian lifestyle at Oxford University – far more heavily than many might suspect. Indeed his intense relationship with a fellow student inspired the most colourful and perhaps most famous character in the book: the charismatic and unmistakably homosexual Lord Sebastian Flyte, recognisable to millions through his portrayal on screen by Anthony Andrews.
Evelyn, who also wrote the 1938 classic Scoop, regarded the novel, published in 1945, as his ‘magnum opus’ and he revealed more of himself in it than in any of his previous books. It is still hugely popular today and the iconic 1981 Granada TV series is regarded as a classic.
Brideshead Revisited begins in 1923 with the narrator Charles Ryder, a history student at Oxford University, befriending Sebastian, the son of The Marquis of Marchmain. Sebastian takes Charles to Brideshead, his magnificent family home, introduces him to his eccentric friends, and the two young men develop a very close relationship.
Everyone was queer at Oxford in those days
Evelyn himself had gone up to Hertford College, Oxford, on a history scholarship in January 1922 and quickly set about gathering new experiences.
He learned to smoke a pipe and to ride a bicycle. He got drunk for the first time, discovered a zeal for alcohol and soon developed a reputation for riotous roistering.
By Evelyn’s own account, most of his Oxford friendships were forged while drunk.
Many of these friendships had a pronounced homosexual flavour. As John Betjeman later remembered: ‘Everyone was queer at Oxford in those days!’
Evelyn’s friend Tom Driberg, later a Labour MP, recalled that he and Evelyn enjoyed ‘some lively and drunken revels – “orgies” were they?’ – mainly homosexual in character.’
And, in the spring of 1923, the 19-year-old Evelyn took up with the ‘friend of my heart’, as he described him, a handsome 18-year-old at Brasenose called Alastair Graham.
Eight months younger than Evelyn, well-born, rich and dreamy, Alastair became one of the great loves of Evelyn’s early life. As a muse, he made the most obvious contribution to the character of Sebastian in Brideshead, which in manuscript twice has ‘Alastair’ in place of ‘Sebastian’.
Alastair was seen by Evelyn’s contemporaries as a catch. Novelist Anthony Powell remembered him as ‘frightfully good-looking, with rather Dresden china shepherdess sort of looks… a lot of people were undoubtedly in love with him’.
Among the queue of admirers was Evelyn’s friend Harold Acton, the writer and scholar, who gushed in a letter jointly addressed to Evelyn and Alastair: ‘I had erections to think of you two angels in an atmosphere salinated with choir boys and sacerdotal sensuality!’
He later described Alastair as a Pre-Raphaelite beauty and said that he had ‘the same sort of features as Evelyn liked in girls – the pixie look’.
When, at the end of the summer term in 1923, Alastair failed his history exams and was removed from the university by his mother, Evelyn asked his father if he, too, might be taken away from Oxford and sent to Paris to live as a bohemian artist. Not surprisingly, his father did not like this idea.
But though Alastair had left the university, he and Evelyn remained ‘inseparable’, or, as Evelyn later recalled, ‘if separated, in almost daily communication’. Alastair ‘continued to haunt Oxford’, driving down regularly from his home in Warwickshire in his two-seater car, whereupon he and Evelyn would zoom off into the Oxfordshire countryside.
In advance of one such visit, Alastair wrote a letter enclosing a photograph of himself naked, posing like some alluring wood nymph beneath an overhanging rock face, his backside pointing seductively towards the camera.
In the letter, he wondered ‘will you come and drink with me somewhere on Saturday? If it is a nice day we might carry some bottles into a wood or some bucolic place’.
Alastair enclosed a naked picture of himself
Brideshead also drew heavily on Evelyn’s friendship with the Lygon family at Madresfield in Worcestershire in the 1930s. But while the disgrace of Lord Beauchamp – who was hounded into exile on account of his homosexual affairs – provided the idea for Lord Marchmain’s story in the novel, Alastair Graham remains the most convincing model for Sebastian.
Evelyn had often visited Alastair’s home, Barford House, near Stratford-upon-Avon, which was presided over by Alastair’s widowed mother Jessie. Barford is nothing like the size of Brideshead or its television alter ego, Castle Howard, yet beneath its handsome, peeling, white-stucco facade can be glimpsed the same gold-coloured stone that Charles Ryder sees on his first visit to Brideshead.
Its front is embellished with a similar, albeit far less grand, row of Ionic half-columns; and there is even a dome and lantern on the roof, though again on a considerably more modest scale than in the book.
Alastair’s mother was a wealthy American. His father, Hugh Graham, was a bona fide scion of the British landed aristocracy – the younger son of a baronet and grandson of the 12th Duke of Somerset.
His sisters, Alastair’s aunts, were the Duchess of Montrose, the Marchioness of Crewe, the Countess of Verulam and Lady Wittenham. It was while staying at Barford (which he was to do on countless occasions, sometimes for weeks at a stretch) that Evelyn gained his first meaningful entree into the upper-class world he eventually came to inhabit.
In his third term, Evelyn moved to rooms on the ground floor of Hertford’s front quad, which soon became the epicentre of the self-elected ‘Hertford underworld’.
Evelyn and his set of louche friends gathered there most lunchtimes. Starting with a glass or two of Sandeman’s Brown Bang, a heavy, glutinous sherry, Evelyn would then go on to beer and would often be completely sozzled by five o’clock. Not infrequently he would carry on drinking throughout the evening.
In Brideshead, Charles’s first encounter with Sebastian recalls an evening when members of the Bullingdon Club came roaring across the quad, and one of them staggered over to Evelyn’s room and was sick through the window.
Because of the amount of time he spent with Alastair at Barford, Evelyn, never the most industrious of students, neglected his studies and in 1924 was only able to achieve a dispiriting third-class degree.
That autumn, Alastair went to Africa to spend the winter with his sister in Kenya. In Alastair’s absence, Evelyn continued to visit Barford, although whenever he went into Leamington with Mrs Graham he felt ‘a little sad to pass all the public houses where Alastair and I have drunk’.
However, Evelyn and Alastair were together a lot in August 1925 and a resumption of intimacy is hinted at in Evelyn’s record of their having ‘dined in high-necked jumpers’ at Barford and done ‘much that could not have been done if Mrs Graham had been here’.
A polo-neck jumper was ‘most convenient for lechery’, according to Evelyn, ‘because it dispenses with all unromantic gadgets like studs and ties’.
Alastair wrote to him after this visit: ‘I feel very lonely now. But you have made me so happy. Please come back again soon. Write to me a lot, because I am all by myself, and I want to know what you are doing… My love to you, Evelyn; I want you back again so much.’
There is a sense here of Alastair beginning to lose his hold over Evelyn, who appears to have been turning his attention more towards girls in general.
He had confided to friends that he wanted to find a wife and was, at this time, fruitlessly pursuing 18-year-old Olivia Plunket Greene, the sister of an Oxford friend.
He remained close enough to Alastair, however, to invite himself to accompany him and his mother to Scotland for three weeks in the summer of 1926. The men then went on to France, where Evelyn reflected: ‘I think I have seen too much of Alastair lately.’
Alastair took up a diplomatic posting in Athens, as honorary attaché to the British Minister, Sir Percy Loraine, who was rumoured to have had an affair with the young Francis Bacon.
When Evelyn visited him that Christmas, Alastair seemed to be seizing every opportunity to explore his sexuality away from the restrictive laws of England; as Evelyn recorded, the flat he shared with another diplomat was ‘usually full of dreadful Dago youths… who sleep with the English colony for 25 drachmas a night’.
Meanwhile, Olivia continued to reject his advances and, one day, when the message finally got through to him that she would never sleep with him, Evelyn took hold of her hand and very deliberately burnt the back of her wrist with his cigarette.
He carried on seeing Alastair intermittently. He took him with him when he went to stay with the Longfords in Ireland in the autumn of 1930. Evelyn had been invited by his friend Frank Pakenham, later Lord Longford.
As Evelyn cheerfully wrote in the Daily Mail: ‘No one has a keener appreciation than myself of the high spiritual and moral qualities of the very rich. I delight in their company whenever I get the chance.’
By this time he had achieved success with his first novel, Decline And Fall, and had been married to, and separated from, his first wife, Evelyn Gardner.
Evelyn camped it up when they were together
He was assumed by some of the Longfords’ other guests to have resumed his love affair with Alastair, a suspicion scarcely allayed by Evelyn’s tendency to camp it up and put on a high-pitched voice whenever they were together, which was most of the time.
The following year he went to stay at Barford when he was trying to start his third novel, Black Mischief, but found it impossible to work with Alastair around.
‘We just sit about sipping sloe gin all day,’ he complained to a friend. ‘I am reading all the case histories in Havelock Ellis [a doctor who studied human sexuality] and frigging too much.’
The last appearance of Evelyn’s name in the Barford visitors’ book was in 1932, by which time he had stayed there on more than 20 occasions. (He had also, by then, surprised his family and friends by becoming a Roman Catholic.)
After that Evelyn and Alastair disappeared from each other’s lives.
Years later, when Alastair’s niece asked him why their friendship had ended, he replied vaguely: ‘Oh, you know, Evelyn became such a bore, such a snob.’
Evelyn’s relationship with Alastair had not been his only dalliance with a man. Richard Pares had been his ‘first homosexual love’, he later told Nancy Mitford.
Pares had come up to Oxford from Winchester the term before him. He was widely admired among Oxford undergraduates for his bright blue eyes, flax-gold hair and, as historian A. L. Rowse, an Oxford contemporary, wistfully remembered, ‘red kissable lips’.
Pares and Evelyn were, wrote Rowse, ‘inseparable in Evelyn’s first year’.
In 1936, Alastair bought a house just outside New Quay, a remote fishing port on the west coast of Wales. Occasionally he threw parties for his neighbours, who at one time included Dylan Thomas. The poet used Alastair as the model for Lord Cut-Glass in Under Milk Wood.
Neither Thomas nor anyone else in New Quay appeared to know that Alastair had also been the model for Sebastian Flyte in Brideshead.
He remained more or less incognito in this respect until the late 1970s, when he was encountered in a local pub by Duncan Fallowell, as the writer recounted in his book How To Disappear.
Not knowing who he was, Fallowell chanced to fall into conversation with him about Evelyn Waugh, about how ‘well-endowed’ he was as a writer, at which point the stranger at the bar suddenly interjected: ‘He wasn’t well-endowed in the other sense, I’m afraid.’
It was never established whether he was referring to Evelyn’s private parts or to the fact that he never had any money and Alastair was always having to bail him out.
When the television series Brideshead Revisited aired, Fallowell returned to New Quay, knocked on Alastair’s door and asked him out to dinner. Alastair replied that he’d had a stroke and was ‘not fit to be seen!’
He could not remember anything, he said, it was all so long ago, then remarked, somewhat cryptically: ‘He was older than me, you know.’
Alastair Graham died the next year, taking his secrets with him.
© Philip Eade 2016
Extracted from Evelyn Waugh: A Life Revisited, by Philip Eade, which is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, priced £30, on July 7. To pre-order a copy at the offer price of £24 (a 20 per cent discount) until April 17, call 0844 571 0640 or visit mailbookshop.co.uk. P&P is free.
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Wednesday, 24 October 2018
William Randolph Hearst's fairytale castle
IF YOU were the fabulously wealthy American William Randolph Hearst and you were having a passionate, extramarital affair with a goddess of the silent screen, the last place you would think of setting up a love nest for the pair of you would be in a small Welsh town.
By MARI GRIFFITH
PUBLISHED: 10:40, Thu, Jul 30, 2015 | UPDATED: 08:00, Wed, Aug 5, 2015
Hearst's fairytale castle
And yet that is exactly what Hearst did for himself and his mistress, the silent screen star Marion Davies.
He bought her a fairytale castle in Wales. Naturally, she wanted to show it off to her friends so, during the 1930s, it was not unusual to catch a glimpse of Clark Gable, Bob Hope or Charlie Chaplin on the streets of Llantwit Major in the Vale of Glamorgan.
Politicians Winston Churchill and Lloyd George were no strangers to the area either and it is said that a youthful John F Kennedy, destined to become 35th President of the United States, paid a private visit during this period.
Some of the fi lm stars were pleased to scrawl their names on the wall in one of the picturesque local pubs though, sadly, a misguided landlord saw fit to limewash over their autographs a couple of years later.
They all converged on the town because, at various times, they were invited to stay at the lovely medieval castle of St Donat’s, just a clifftop stroll away, as house guests of the American newspaper tycoon, who had bought the castle on a whim in 1925.
Hearst had seen St Donat’s advertised for sale in Country Life magazine and cabled his English agent the instruction to buy it at once. It would be the ultimate gift for Marion Davies, the lover with whom he was absolutely besotted.
William Randolph Hearst was super-rich. Whatever he wanted, he bought and it’s generally agreed that he was the model for the Orson Welles fi lm Citizen Kane. Welles himself denied this, claiming that the script for his 1941 blockbuster was not based on any one person, more an amalgam of two or three. Whether this was true or not, Hearst sued.
That’s the kind of man he was. He had money and he could do what he liked. He could buy anything he wanted and did, spending huge amounts on those people he admired and those who could be of use to him, entertaining them extravagantly and showering them with gifts.
The person on whom he lavished more money than anyone else was Marion Davies, who was already establishing an enviable reputation for herself as a comedy actress in silent films.
Hearst, whose cheque book came in very useful for buying dreams, bought a theatre to further her stage career, renamed it the Marion Davies Theatre, refurbished it completely and had it painted a delicate shade of rosebud pink in her honour.
What God would have built if he’d had the money
George Bernard Shaw
Though he invested heavily in her career, Hearst wasn’t sure about the lightweight roles she played on fi lm. He preferred to think of her as a classical actress of some stature and promoted her as such through his newspapers.
Then he founded Cosmopolitan Pictures in Hollywood, bringing financial pressure to bear on the new company’s producers to cast her in weighty historical dramas rather than in the comedy roles which were really what suited her best.
He financed several films on condition that they would be starring vehicles for her, including the 1922 production When Knighthood Was In Flower, a costume drama in which she played the leading role of Mary Tudor, the younger sister of King Henry VIII.
St Donat’s castle would be the perfect classical backdrop for Marion Davies, a real-life setting from medieval times.
There’d be no need for set designers and fi lm cameras to create this, it was the real deal.
The picturesque castle dates back to the 12th century and the fabric of the building was in need of considerable attention. Hearst spent a fortune restoring it, buying entire rooms from castles and manor houses throughout Europe and installing them in his new love nest.
The most significant of these was the Great Hall which came from Bradenstoke Priory in Wiltshire. He had it dismantled then reconstructed brick by brick at the heart of St Donat’s.
Hearst and his adored mistress would invite influential politicians and fi lm star friends to stay with them in these opulent surroundings where more than 30 marble bathrooms had been installed for the comfort and convenience of the guests.
According to George Bernard Shaw, it was “what God would have built if he’d had the money”.
Oddly – though perhaps Hearst didn’t know this at the time – the castle already had American presidential connections long before JFK paid a visit because, back in the 15th century, it was the home of the ancestors of the man who became the sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams. They were Sir Edward Stradling and his wife Joan, who was the illegitimate daughter of Cardinal bishop Henry Beaufort, himself the illegitimate child of John of Gaunt and his mistress, Lady Katherine Swynford.
So when it came to deciding on a location for a sequence in my historical novel Root Of The Tudor Rose, it seemed a heaven-sent opportunity to use St Donat’s.
It’s just down the road from where I live and if it was good enough for Hearst, it was good enough for me!
The book tells the story of another romance, a clandestine liaison between the very first Tudor of all, the Welshman Owen Tudor, and Catherine de Valois, the lovely young widow of King Henry V.
The lovers were both foreigners at the English court of Catherine’s baby son, King Henry VI where she, as a French woman, was treated with suspicion.
Owen befriended her and they fell in love, embarking upon a passionate affair. In time, Catherine became pregnant but no one at court could ever, ever know about the baby.
After all, the Queen was a widow and her lover Owen Tudor, who was Clerk of her Wardrobe, was a servant.
The pair were desperate to find somewhere for their baby to be born and it did seem reasonable to me that Joan Beaufort, Lady of the Manor at St Donat’s, might have welcomed them.
These days, the castle is home to the sixth form Atlantic College, the first of 15 United World Colleges, founded in 1962 and established to enable students from all over the world to follow an international curriculum.
It also, occasionally, provides a wonderful location for sequences in films and TV series such as Doctor Who and Wolf Hall, though it’s just as well that this never happened in the days of William Randolph Hearst.
He would probably have insisted that Marion Davies should star as Anne Boleyn.
To order Root Of The Tudor Rose by Mari Griffith (Accent Press, £7.99 paperback, Hardback available £14.99) call the Express Bookshop on 01872 562310. Alternatively, send a cheque or postal order payable to The Express Bookshop to Tudor Rose Offer, PO Box 200, Falmouth, Cornwall TR11 4WJ or visit expressbookshop.co.uk. UK delivery is free.
Art historians are appealing for the return of hoards bought by billionaires
Sun 5 Mar 2017 00.05 GMT Last modified on Sat 2 Dec 2017 03.30 GMT
This article is over 1 year old
Hearst Castle, fantasy home of ‘the great accumulator’ and publishing magnate, where many valuable artefacts are displayed.
Leading British historians are calling for the return of a huge hoard of UK art treasures that has gone missing in the United States.
The works – a slice of the nation’s cultural history – range from ship-loads of paintings and sculptures to entire interiors from old houses, transported across the Atlantic as part of the largest movement of art and architecture since the Renaissance. The former V&A director, Sir Roy Strong, is one of the academics calling for Britain’s vanished heritage to be found.
The extent of the lost art and architecture has emerged since the launch in January of an appeal to find a Tudor oak parlour “missing” from Gwydir castle in north Wales. The ornate panelling and a fireplace were bought by the US billionaire William Randolph Hearst in the 1920s and were last seen at his palatial home in New York in the 1930s.
Efforts to find the room, one of two from the castle sold to Hearst, have so far failed. But the search has brought to light the greatest single loss of cultural artefacts from Britain. Though many pieces shipped across the Atlantic passed into public collections in the US, and some worldwide, the fate of the bulk of the material is unknown.
Hearst, fictionalised by Orson Welles in the film Citizen Kane, was an obsessive collector of European – especially British – art and architecture. He was dubbed “the great accumulator” by one dealer. Rumours persist that sealed Hearst containers remain in storage.
The largest Hearst storage site is in the Bronx, New York, but other warehouses are believed to exist across the country. His fantasy medieval castle at San Simeon, California – Xanadu in the film – displays many works, though they are thought to be only around 10% of his entire collection. More than 90 rail wagons brought treasures to San Simeon, and one of the final scenes in Citizen Kane shows an endless vista of crated art at Xanadu.
Hearst was one of several super-rich Americans vying to amass art and antiques. John D Rockefeller, JP Morgan and Henry Clay Frick were also major players, with an extensive “second tier” of buyers below them.
For nearly 60 years, from the 1880s, items from Italy, France, Spain, Germany and Greece were snapped up, but Britain was the richest source. The trade was frenzied. When the Titanic sank in 1912, 30 tons of crated English architectural objects were on board. Entire historic interiors would be acquired – panelling, fireplaces, doors, paintings, timbers and plaster ceilings, libraries and tapestries – and shipped as job lots, often without an inventory. Artworks in particular were sold “en bloc” – by quantity – by dealers with no detailed description.
Over time, US galleries and museums came to own some of the items. Georgian rooms bought by Hearst, taken from Sutton Scarsdale Hall in Derbyshire, were used as film sets in Hollywood before ending up at the Huntington Library collection, California. Other Sutton Scarsdale rooms are held by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
In the 1990s, the owners of Gwydir traced one of the castle’s two missing interiors, a 1640s room, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which acquired it from Hearst. The room had been stored at the museum for decades, and the owners bought and reinstated it.
The extent of exports of British art and antiques to America is known to a few academics, but Gwydir’s search for its lost room has brought this episode out of the shadows. Now calling for a concerted effort to find the lost heritage are the pre-eminent historians Sir Roy Strong and John Harris.
Strong told the Observer: “There were ship-loads of early English portraits exported, not just grand things. There were interesting Elizabethan and other pictures. Back then, you wouldn’t have got 50 quid for an Elizabethan painting.
“It was the fashion, the English ‘Tudorbethan’. There’s English sculpture – how much of that went to America? We don’t know. There were no export controls. Records just went over to America, those of fantastic gardens, for instance. The fate of the rooms has never been highlighted.
“A large proportion of Britain’s art history from the 16th to 18th centuries may be missing.”
John Harris, who, with Marcus Binney – founder of SAVE Britain’s Heritage – campaigned in the 1970s to prevent heritage neglect, shares Strong’s concern. Harris is the only historian to have studied the export of artefacts from the UK. “I lived in New York in the early 1960s,” Harris told the Observer. “Around 20 houses on Park Avenue alone had old English rooms. Hundreds, if not in the low thousands, of items [are unaccounted for]. Some of the finest craftsmanship. At least 200 rooms were taken apart.
“We have underestimated the number of [historic] rooms in the US. It is unclear what is in storage, what the Hearst people have. It is odd that there has never been an effort to identify what is in the States.”
The scale of the buying was historic. “Only the Renaissance princes were spending on an equivalent scale,” says Dr Mark Westgarth, art historian at Leeds University and a specialist in the art trade. “One of the reasons why heritage laws began in Britain was to stop the flood of material to America.
“Hearst was notorious for buying pieces then leaving them in storage.”
By the late 1930s, Hearst’s empire faced bankruptcy and, in 1941, 20,000 lots were auctioned off at New York department stores Gimbels and Saks. “There hasn’t been sufficient awareness of this aspect of what has been exported to America,” says Harris. “That was seriously to this country’s loss.
“A lot of the documentary records have vanished, dealers’ papers especially. Years ago, I searched the records of one, French & Company, and Hearst without success. I’ve always been told there are Hearst stores in the US, difficult to access. Efforts must be made to examine Hearst sites and open containers. But I’m past it now.”
Those looking after the surviving Hearst archives believe there is much to be discovered. “The whereabouts of a lot of the items Hearst bought are not known,” says Dr Catherine Larkin of the William Randolph Hearst Archive at Long Island University, New York.
“Things have gone missing by being placed in homes which might not exist any more, or are still in one of Hearst’s many warehouses.”
|"Want buy castle in England . St Donat Castle|
Citizen Kane's domain: 1925–1960
William Randolph Hearst inherited a mining and real estate fortune from his mother, and made a fortune of his own through the establishment of the Hearst Corporation, the largest newspaper and magazine company in the world. Part of the revenues were spent on the building of San Simeon, his Spanish-style castle in California, which began construction in 1919. By 1925 he was eager to purchase a genuine castle, and on 13 August he sent a wire to Alice Head, the London-based managing director of his European operations, "Want buy castle in England . St Donat's perhaps satisfactory at proper price. See if you can get right price on St Donat's or any other equally good". Within two months it was Hearst's, or specifically, the property of the National Magazine Corporation. The price paid for the castle and 111 acres (45 ha) of surrounding land was $130,000. Hearst employed Sir Charles Allom as his architect and designer. Allom was a noted decorator, the founder of White Allom and Company, and had been knighted in 1913 for his redecoration of Buckingham Palace.
Hearst attracted strong opinions. Theodore Roosevelt called him "an unspeakable blackguard (with) all the worst faults of the corrupt and dissolute monied man". Winston Churchill, who stayed as Hearst's guest at St Donat's and at San Simeon, described him in a letter to Clementine Churchill as "a grave simple child – with no doubt a nasty temper – playing with the most costly toys ... two magnificent establishments, two charming wives, complete indifference to public opinion, oriental hospitalities". Churchill's mention of "two charming wives" refers to Marion Davies, Hearst's long-time mistress and a constant presence at both San Simeon and St Donat's. P. G. Wodehouse, invited to San Simeon, recalled Hearst's way of dealing with over-staying guests, "The longer you are there, the further you get from the middle [of the refectory dining table]. I sat on Marion's right the first night, then found myself being edged further and further away till I got to the extreme end, when I thought it time to leave. Another day, and I should have been feeding on the floor".
Hearst undertook a "rapid and ruthless" redevelopment and rebuilding programme at St Donat’s. He spent large sums renovating the castle with architectural trophies from across the United Kingdom and abroad; at the peak of his buying, Hearst's expenditure accounted for a quarter of the world's entire art market. Alice Head, manager of Hearst's London operations and the actual purchaser of St Donat's, recorded her exhilaration, "We were on top of the wave – out of (one) year's profits, we bought The Connoisseur, we bought St Donat's and we bought vast quantities of antiques". The writer Clive Aslet described Hearst's passion for antiquities as "naked obsession... romance gave way to rape", and his mania for collecting was satirised in Orson Welles's 1941 film Citizen Kane. Kane's palace Xanadu, modelled on San Simeon, is described as containing "A collection of everything, so big that it can never be catalogued or appraised. Enough for ten museums, the loot of the world." Hearst's actions were vigorously opposed, particularly in relation to the destruction of the Augustinian foundation Bradenstoke Priory in Wiltshire. Built in 1142, by the 20th century the priory was in poor repair. Hearst purchased the site in 1929, under conditions of secrecy, and had workmen take down the cloister, tithe barn, prior's lodging and refectory. Parts were shipped to California, major elements were incorporated into St Donat's as part of the newly created Bradenstoke hall, while other pieces, including the tithe barn, were lost.The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings ran a poster campaign on the London Underground, using text that was considered libellous and which had to be pasted over. The campaign also saw questions on the issue being raised in Parliament. Hearst was unconcerned, Miss Head responding to the SPAB secretary: "Mr Hearst and I are well aware of your views. You must please allow us to hold our own opinions."
Hearst did not visit until September 1928, and even then spent only one night in residence.Having undertaken a night-time tour of the castle which was illuminated by kerosene lamps, he left the following morning to board the Berengaria for New York. During the voyage home he wrote a twenty-five-page memorandum with instructions for further improvements to the castle.Over the next decade his time at St Donat's amounted to some four months; between his purchase in 1925 and his death in 1951 he visited, normally for a month at the end of his summer European tours, in 1930, 1931, 1934 and, for the last time, in 1936. His infrequent visits were invariably undertaken with a large entourage, whom he sometimes took for drinks to the Old Swan Inn at the nearby village of Llantwit Major. Among his guests were the actors Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Errol Flynn and Clark Gable, in addition to political luminaries including Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George and a young John F. Kennedy, who visited with his parents, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. and Rose Kennedy. Visiting writers included Elinor Glyn, Ivor Novello and Bernard Shaw. Of St Donat's, Shaw was quoted as saying, "This is what God would have built if he had had the money".
In the late 1930s Hearst's publishing empire came close to collapse. St Donat's was put up for sale in 1937, the Hearst Corporation noting that it had invested £280,000 in the castle through its subsidiary the National Magazine Company. An opinion on the chances of recouping this sum was sought from James Milner, a prominent solicitor and Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons. His response was not encouraging: "We have at St Donat's a white elephant of the rarest species".Billy Butlin, the holiday-camp entrepreneur, was uninterested and a development proposal by Sir Julian Hodge did not progress. Much of the furniture, silver and works of art were disposed of in a series of sales conducted by Christie's which began in 1939 and continued for some years. During World War II it was requisitioned for use by British and American troops.Hearst did not return after the war but continued to lend the castle to friends; Bob Hope, the comedian, stayed in May 1951 during his visit for a golf tournament at Porthcawl.
Hollywood's hunger for turrets
16 MAY 2016 • 1:07PM
Adrian Tinniswood on William Randolph Hearst and the rich Americans who coveted our castles
In the summer of 1925 Alice Head, the managing director of Good Housekeeping magazine in Britain, received a telegram from her boss in California:
Want buy castle in england please find which ones available stdonats perhaps satisfactory at proper price but price quoted seems very high see if you can get right price on stdonats or any other equally good hearst
The newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst had begun to think about acquiring a country residence in Britain in the spring of that year. The leading contender was St Donat’s, an imposing medieval fortress 20 miles west of Cardiff (the distinction between England and Wales was lost on Hearst). That summer, he bought it.
Why did Hearst want a castle? Although he didn’t broadcast the fact, he liked the idea of a place where he and his mistress Marion Davies could entertain after their annual European vacation. Their guests included Winston Churchill and David Lloyd George, Errol Flynn and Clark Gable, a young John F Kennedy and an elderly George Bernard Shaw, who is rumoured to have said that St Donat’s was “what God would have built if he had had the money”.
But perhaps Hearst’s real reason for buying an “English” castle had more to do with finding the right setting for his collection of British and European art treasures, which was growing rapidly. At his peak, Hearst accounted for a quarter of the world’s art market.
“Need ancient atmosphere at St Donat’s,” read one of his many telegrams to Head. On another occasion he urged her “always to add old things” rather than making new. “We shall just increase [the castle’s] historical interest,” he told reporters in 1930, “by bringing tapestries, ceilings, panelling screens, pictures – every one of which will be genuinely antique.”
Some were more genuinely antique than others. Hearst’s bed, for example, was said on rather slender evidence to have been the one in which Charles I slept before his defeat at the Battle of Naseby. Other items were of more certain provenance, albeit of doubtful taste – thumbscrews, an executioner’s sword and other instruments of torture. But the majority of contents amassed for St Donat’s were of the best quality and in the best taste: portraits by Zoffany and Sir Thomas Lawrence, furniture by Chippendale, Brussels tapestries and neoclassical sculpture. St Donat’s was not a re-creation of a Welsh castle, or even an English castle. It was not a Hollywood set. It was a museum.
Hearst was far from being the only American to disrupt the social and architectural fabric of upper-class life in Britain. In the late 19th century, an unholy alliance was forged between socially ambitious mothers of heiresses from New York or Chicago and impoverished English aristocrats, who were happy to offer a title in exchange for a hefty dollar dowry.
The poster girl for that discordant entente was Consuelo Vanderbilt, the daughter of a New York railway magnate and the reluctant wife of Sunny Spencer-Churchill, ninth Duke of Marlborough. Consuelo spent 11 years lost in the marble halls of Blenheim Palace, surrounded by blank-faced servants and condescending in-laws, before her marriage collapsed in 1906. Dinners with her husband were painful affairs, she later recalled. “As a rule neither of us spoke a word. I took to knitting in desperation and the butler read detective stories in the hall.”
By the Twenties, the tenor of the exchange had become subtly different: Americans now brought glamour and dynamism, as well as money. When Texan heiress Iva Lawson bought Herstmonceux Castle in Sussex, undeterred by a phantom giant drummer who walked the battlements, the press on both sides of the Atlantic was delighted: “Along Came a Brave American Girl Who Scoffs at Ghosts and Just Adores Haunted Rooms”, cried an American paper. The young Earl of Jersey found a film-star bride, Virginia Cherrill “of Hollywood, USA”, as Debrett’s Peerage primly put it. Lutyens couldn’t bear her: when she insisted on his installing a cocktail bar, the architect called her “a common little woman without brain [who had] no idea of what an Englishman’s house should be”.
By contrast, Edward VIII was in love with America (and Americans, come to that.) He used the United States as a yardstick by which to judge modern country house conveniences. At Fort Belvedere in Windsor Great Park he introduced “many of the creature conveniences that I had sampled and enjoyed in the New World – a bathroom to nearly every room, showers, a steam bath, built-in cupboards, central heating”. When he left Windsor Castle after his abdication speech, he drove into exile in a Buick.
Occasionally, an American would not only buy a slice of British architectural history, but also take it home with them. The timber-framed Tudor Agecroft Hall in Lancashire, for instance, was dismantled in 1926 and re-erected beside the James River in Virginia. (Today, visitors are invited to explore Agecroft’s “dyninge parlour” and “noble passageways”.) Three years later Basildon Park in Berkshire was offered for sale: it could be taken down and re-erected anywhere in the US in return for $1 million, said its owner. “There seems to be a craze in the United States at the moment for this sort of thing,” said the bewildered secretary of the Ancient Monuments Society.
More often, Americans who wanted to buy into the past left it where it was and merely “improved” it, not always with the happiest results. Back in the early years of the century the wealthy New Yorker William Waldorf Astor had transformed the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Hever Castle in Kent, filling it with panelling in Italian walnut or English oak, brand-new carved work in the style of Grinling Gibbons and chimneypieces of Verona marble, tapestries, Tudor portraits and suits of armour. But casual sightseers were no longer allowed, earning Hever’s new owner the nickname “Walled-off” Astor. The architect Philip Tilden lamented the passing of tumbledown old Hever: “It has now become a miniature Metropolitan Museum of New York.” The castle was now somehow un-English, as though Astor had tried too hard.
When it came to trying too hard, Wisconsin-born Harry Gordon Selfridge was hard to beat. In 1916 he commissioned Tilden to add a 450ft tower to the top of his Oxford Street department store. Although it came to nothing, five years later Selfridge bought two and a half miles of coastline outside Bournemouth, including Hengistbury Head, a promontory jutting out into the Channel with views across to the Isle of Wight. Again he brought in Tilden. He wanted a Little Castle, which despite its name was to be enormous, and would stand on the very edge of Hengistbury Head with only the sea beyond it. Above and behind it, in a plateau encircled by four miles of turreted walls, was to be the site of what Tilden labelled the Large Castle, with good reason. It was to be the biggest castle in the world.
Tilden’s vision for Selfridge Castle began with a gateway which pierced the bastioned walls, “like the gate to a Spanish city”. That was ambitious for Bournemouth, but it was only the start. The main drive would wind its way upwards until it reached a piazza and a marble staircase hall with a dome almost as big as that of St Paul’s. The central vista, a thousand feet long, stretched out to either side of this hall which opened into a cloistered garden with a vast galerie des glaces based on that at Versailles.
There were 250 guest suites, dining chambers that would seat hundreds, a theatre, tennis courts, picture galleries and baths. Dominating the palace was to be a 300ft tower filled with laboratories and observatories, culminating in a viewing platform. Selfridge Castle remained a palace of dreams: its owner sold the site in 1930 without a stone being laid. Decades later Tilden wrote with regret of his castle in the air, “where one could watch the great liners gliding up the Solent to their berths; or through some giant telescope learn more of the eternal vastness of space”.
Besides the bartered brides and business tycoons, there is another group of Americans who had an enormous impact on the country house world between the wars: people like Ronald Tree at Ditchley Park and the diarist and MP Chips Channon, who bought the Kelvedon Hall in Essex in 1938. What this eclectic group have in common is their Anglophile Anglo-Americanism, the fact that they all had a foot on both sides of the Atlantic.
Prominent among them was American-born Olive Paget, who could trace her ancestry to the first Marquess of Anglesey, who commanded the cavalry at Waterloo and lost a leg in the process. Her American mother Pauline was a Whitney heiress, who in 1916 left Olive a fortune in the region of $2 million.
Olive divorced the Hon Charles Winn in 1925 and married a big game hunter, Arthur Wilson Filmer, the same year. They began their life together by renting Bawdsey Manor, an extravagantly turreted example of Victorian Tudor Revival in Suffolk. But Olive’s pet monkey caused £2,000 worth of damage to the furnishings and landed the newly-weds in court as a result, so they had to move. In February 1927, they bought Leeds Castle in Kent for a reputed £200,000, well over £11 million in today’s money. (St Donat’s had cost the Hearst empire a paltry £27,000.) They spent £100,000 more on modernising it.
Leeds was the romantic fortress. “I had heard of such wonders, but only in the realms of grand opera and fantasy,” said E V Lucas, when he caught a glimpse of this vast castle rising out of a lake during a flight from Paris to London in 1931. “It is incredible, unearthly.” It once belonged to Eleanor of Castile: her widowed husband Edward I honeymooned here in 1299 with his second wife, and it became a tradition for English kings to grant the castle to their queens as part of their dowry.
But romance was not enough. Olive and Arthur installed a radiogram in the old chapel, which piped music around the castle. There was an open-air swimming pool with underwater lights and a wave machine, one of the first in England. There were zebras and llamas in the park, and 24 flamingos who spent a few months enjoying the lake before flying away.
The reinvented Leeds Castle was a strangely satisfying cocktail of Arts & Crafts medievalism, French Gothic and Hollywood theatricality. Like St Donat’s and Selfridge Castle, it reminds us that the Americans brought to the English country house more than just their millions and an acquisitive admiration for the Old Country. They brought something of their own that we tend to undervalue: a flamboyance, a joy in the past.
Extracted from The Long Weekend (Jonathan Cape, £25) © Adrian Tinniswood 2016. To order a copy for £20 from the Telegraph, call 0844 871 1514
In 1903, Hearst married Millicent Veronica Willson (1882–1974), a 21-year-old chorus girl, in New York City. Evidence in Louis Pizzitola's book Hearst Over Hollywood indicates that Millicent's mother Hannah Willson ran a Tammany-connected and protected brothel near the headquarters of political power in New York City at the turn of the 20th century. Millicent bore him five sons: George Randolph Hearst, born on April 23, 1904; William Randolph Hearst Jr., born on January 27, 1908; John Randolph Hearst, born in 1910; and twins Randolph Apperson Hearst and David Whitmire (né Elbert Willson) Hearst, born on December 2, 1915. Hearst was the grandfather of Patricia "Patty" Hearst, widely known for being kidnapped by and then joining the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974 (her father was Randolph Apperson Hearst, Hearst's fourth son).
Conceding an end to his political hopes, Hearst became involved in an affair with the popular film actress and comedian Marion Davies (1897–1961), former mistress of his friend Paul Block, and from about 1919, he lived openly with her in California. The affair dominated Davies's life. Millicent separated from Hearst in the mid-1920s after tiring of his longtime affair with Davies, but the couple remained legally married until Hearst's death. Millicent built an independent life for herself in New York City as a leading philanthropist, was active in society, and created the Free Milk Fund for the poor in 1921. After the death of Patricia Lake, Davies's supposed niece, it was confirmed by Lake's family that she was in fact Hearst's daughter by Davies.
Tilden was born on 31 May 1887, the son of William Augustus Tilden, a prominent chemist who discovered synthetic rubber. Educated at Bedales and Rugby, Tilden joined the Architectural Association in 1905, leaving in 1908 to become an articled pupil to Thomas Edward Collcutt, with whom he later went into partnership. By 1917, he had established his own practice and for the next twenty years worked almost exclusively for a small circle of rich, interconnected, patrons for whom he designed, or re-constructed, country houses, gardens, chapels and churches, castles and a vast tower that was intended to sit on top of Gordon Selfridge's department store on Oxford Street, London.
His best known works, apart from the unexecuted design for the Selfridges tower, were all for politicians: from 1918 to 1923 he designed the Moorish Courtyard, compared by Honor Channon to a "Spanish brothel", and the gardens and swimming pools at Port Lympne for Lloyd George's secretary, Philip Sassoon and may also have worked for Sassoon at Trent Park. Later in 1920s he completely reconstructed Chartwell Manor for Winston Churchill and during the same period built Bron-y-de, at Churt in Surrey, as a country house for David Lloyd George.
By the late 1920s, Tilden's career had peaked: near bankruptcy, following some failed speculative developments; combined with a mental breakdown, which Bettley attributes to Tilden's attempting to reconcile his homosexuality with his marriage to Amalia Broden, a Swedish author; led to his leaving London entirely and moving to Devon. The latter part of his career was spent mainly in the West Country, where he undertook the restoration of a number of, mostly, less important country houses for a variety of less eminent clients. Examples include the reconstruction of Antony House in Cornwall and of Sydenham House in Devon.
Many of Tilden's buildings now enjoy Listed Building status although this is sometimes due to the fame of their owners, or to work that pre-dated Tilden, rather than to his own efforts: examples include Port Lympne Mansion, Grade II* listed as at 29 December 1966; Chartwell, Grade I listed as at 16 January 1975 and Antony House, Grade I listed as at 21 July 1951.
In 1954 Tilden published his autobiography, True Remembrances: the memoirs of an architect. Bettley considered it highly unreliable. Philip Tilden died on 25 February 1956 at Shute, Devon.His obituary in The Times, described him as "an architect with a talent for restoring old buildings, though of a somewhat lush and luxurious taste."
True remembrances: The memoirs of an architect – 1 Jan 1954
by Philip Tilden
Publicada por Jeeves em 04:39