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Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Edith - Marchioness of Londonderry

Category: Business and political leaders

 

Edith Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Marchioness of Londonderry DBE (born Edith Helen Chaplin; 3 December 1878 – 23 April 1959) was a noted and influential society hostess in the United Kingdom between World War I and World War II.

Born as Edith Helen Chaplin in Blankney, Lincolnshire, she was the daughter of Henry Chaplin, later the 1st Viscount Chaplin (1840–1923), and Lady Florence Sutherland-Leveson-Gower (1855–1881).

After the death of her mother in 1881, Edith was raised largely at Dunrobin Castle, Sutherland, the estate of her maternal grandfather, the third Duke of Sutherland.

On 28 November 1899, she married Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, who later inherited his father's title in 1915, whereupon Edith became Marchioness of Londonderry. They had five children.  On the death of the 7th Marquess, in 1949, Lady Londonderry became Dowager Marchioness of Londonderry.

The Marchioness died of cancer on 23 April 1959, aged 80.

Work with the Women's Volunteer Reserve

 

In 1914, after the outbreak of World War I, Lady Londonderry was appointed the Colonel-in-Chief of the Women's Volunteer Reserve (WVR), a volunteer force formed of women replacing the men who had left work and gone up to the Front.

The WVR was established in December 1914 in response to German bombing raids on East Coast towns during the First World War.

Lady Londonderry also aided with the organisation of the Officers' Hospital set up in her house, and was the first woman to be appointed to be a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Military Division, upon the Order's establishment in 1917.

The gardens of Mount Stewart

During the 1920s, Lady Londonderry created the gardens at the Londonderry family estate of Mount Stewart, near Newtownards, County Down. She added the Shamrock Garden, the Sunken Garden, increased the size of the lake, added a Spanish Garden with a small hut, the Italian Garden, the Dodo Terrace, Menagerie, the Fountain Pool and laid out walks in the Lily Wood and rest of the estate. She was a patron of the botanist and plant collector Frank Kingdon-Ward.

After she created her garden and the death of her husband, she gave the gardens to the National Trust in 1957. They are regarded by Heritage Island as being one of the best gardens in the British Isles and the gardens have been proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Prophetic dream of Lady Londonderry

Lady Londonderry had a prophetic dream concerning the death of Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson Bart GCB, DSO, which is described in Man and Time by J B Priestley. We have included this as the observation.

 Field Marshal Sir Henry Hughes Wilson, 1st Baronet, GCB, DSO (5 May 1864 – 22 June 1922) was one of the most senior British Army staff officers of the First World War and was briefly an Irish unionist politician.

 

Wilson served as Director of Military Operations at the War Office, was Sub Chief of Staff to the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), and was Sir John French's most important advisor during the 1914 campaign. He played an important role in Anglo-French military relations in 1915. Later in 1917 he was informal military advisor to the British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, and then British Permanent Military Representative at the Supreme War Council at Versailles.  In 1918 Wilson served as Chief of the Imperial General Staff (the professional head of the British Army).

But of importance to this entry is his important role in the Irish War of Independence.  After retiring from the army, Wilson served as security advisor to the Northern Ireland government. He was assassinated on his own doorstep by two IRA gunmen whilst returning home from unveiling a war memorial at Liverpool Street station.  Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, was killed on Thursday, 22nd June, 1922.

The motive for the killing has, according to Wikipedia, never been established:

Coogan has suggested that Reginald Dunne, who had the confidence of both Michael Collins and Rory O'Connor, undertook the shooting as a last-ditch effort to provoke the British Government into retaliating, thereby uniting both sides of the Nationalists. Hart believes the assassins “acted alone in the (grossly mistaken) belief that Wilson was responsible for Catholic deaths in Belfast”. The killers had only decided to attack the previous evening, and even on the day Sullivan had been at work until 1pm; the killers had no getaway plan

Which makes the prophetic dream all the more remarkable.  The Field-Marshal was a friend of the Londonderries and frequently stayed at Mount Stewart with Lady Wilson, often staying for several days.

References

  •  
    De Courcy, Anne -  Society's Queen: The Life of Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry., 2004. (Originally published as Circe: The Life of Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry. London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1992.)

Lady Londonderry wrote and/or edited several books, among which are

  • Henry Chaplin: A Memoir (1926),
  • The Magic Ink-Pot (1928),
  • Retrospect (1938)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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