L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Dreary peeresses - coronation portraits by Bassano Ltd., 1937

Kathleen Florence May Pelham-Clinton (née Candy), Duchess of Newcastle.

These aristocratic ladies, dressed for the coronation of George VI, are probably not all as dour as they appear here; Viscountess Dillon looks jolly enough. Still, posed for their portraits in full - fullest - fig, many of them seem more burdened than thrilled to be recorded for posterity. Burdened and perhaps a bit reluctant; not a state that generally results in a terribly congenial image. But neither are they served by their graceless peeress' robes, their often awkward and/or bizarre family jewels, or their dumpy little coronets. Though aristocratic and royal swans - say, Marina, Duchess of Kent - are rather a rare species, I expect these ladies enjoyed happier - and more attractive - days.

Katharine Edith Collier (née Gastrell), Lady Monswell.
Dora Isolde Butler (née Tower), Lady Dunboyne.
Lucy Sophia Sanders (née Halliday), Lady Bayford of Stoke Trister.
Dorothea Gertrude Borwick (née Grey), Lady Borwick.
Mabel Agnes Plender (née Laurie), Lady Plender of Sundridge.
Emily Gladys Walpole (née Oakes), Countess of Orford.
Gwendolen Florence Mary Guinness (née Onslow), Countess of Iveagh.
Sibel Lilian Blunt-Mackenzie (née Mackenzie), Countess of Cromartie.
Helen Dorothy Law (née Lovatt), Lady Ellenborough.
Margaret Haig Mackworth (née Thomas), 2nd Viscountess Rhondda.
Charlotte Iliffe (née Gilding), Lady Iliffe.
Fairlie Pomeroy (née Harmar), Viscountess Harberton. (Odd that the background has been erased from this image.)
Mabel Danvers Ryder (née Smith), Countess of Harrowby.
Eleanor May Stuart (née Guggenheim), Countess Castle Stewart.
Hilda Dillon (née Brunner), Viscountess Dillon.


Additional images of the Duchess of Newcastle; she's just too fabulous for only one!
Her jewels are amazing and quite nutty: the enormous bow brooch; the pair of anchors flanking her décolletage, brooches
which had been the property of the Empress Eugénie; a diamond necklace; an important emerald and diamond necklace;
and the emerald and diamond corsage ornament which she has somehow stuck onto her head and wears as a bandeau.


  1. I'm quite at a loss for words! I'm sure they were all proud of their place in society that allowed them to wear those robes and accompanying regalia!

  2. These are heaven!

    Even though Lady Dunboyne looks positively affronted at having to be there...

  3. The truth that Downton Abbey dare not speak.

  4. Well worth a read is Rosina Harrison's memoir "Rose: My Life In Service" (republished as "The Lady's Maid: My Life In Service") She was longtime lady's maid to Lady Astor, the first woman member of Parliment and a very accomplished (and demanding) hostess. Harrison talks about the Peeress's robes and how many aristocratic ladies didn't give much of a hang about how they looked ("robes were robes"). Lady Astor, in contrast, was keen on her public image and insisted her robes be tailored and flattering.

    1. I've seen that book, but never read it; thanks for the recommendation!