It’s January, so we start the new year by going back to the Duchess of Devonshire’s Jubilee Costume Ball of 1897, for another visit. But don’t think I’m scraping away at the bottom of the barrel. There are still plenty of interesting costumes to see, and no shortage of eminent ladies (and a few gentlemen) who had put some considerable effort into selecting their outfits for the event.
We can start with a couple of Duchesses:
This is the Duchess of Marlborough, in the role of “the wife of the French Ambassador at the court of Catherine the Great of Russia”. The Duchess was formerly Consuelo Vanderbilt an eligible American heiress who was apparently forced into her marriage (to the 9th Duke of Marlborough) by her mother. The marriage ended in divorce in 1921. She remained friendly with some members of her husband’s family including Winston Churchill.
Another Russian connection below, the Duchess of Newcastle as Princess Dashkov (or more properly Dashkova)
Princess Ekaterinawas a close friend of the Empress Catherine. She lived in Edinburgh from 1776 to 1782 and on her return to Russia became Director of the Imperial Academy of Sciences, the first woman to hold a hign government post. The Duchess of Newcastle, Kathleen Florence May Pelham-Clinton was a celebrated dog breeeder. Should I risk boring you with a slight coincidence? The Duchess died in the year of my birth and shared two of her Christian names with my mother.
Now a few Countesses:
The Countess of Yarborough is another “lady of the Empress Catherine’s court” according to our book of the Ball. (It must have been quite a challenge for the photographer’s assistants to get all this information down, hence the occasional unknown name). Further research tells us that Marcia Amelia Mary Pelham was playing another Countess, Countess Tchoglokov. She was also two Baronesses, Conyers and Fauconberg, if that information takes your fancy.
Coming back to these islands, the Countess of Pembroke, Beatrix Louisa Lambton is another of those guests playing one of their own ancestors.
She is Mary Sydney, the Countess of Pembroke, sister of the poet Philip Sydney and a poet in her own right. She was a highly educated woman who was a patron of both the arts and sciences. She edited some of her brother’s works after his death including Arcadia and may have known Shakespeare. At one point she lived in Crosby Hall, the building famously transported from the City to Cheyne Walk, in Chelsea in the 1920s.
Here is an Elizabethan duo:
Queen Elizabeth herself, played by Lady Tweedmouth, while her husband Lord Tweedmouth plays Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, the Queen’s favourite. An intriguing pair of roles for a married couple to play. Lord Tweedmouth was Lord Privy Seal under Gladstone. His wife, Fanny Octavia Louise was another member of the Spencer-Churchill family. She died of cancer in 1904.
Continuing the Elizabethan theme, and coming slightly down the social scale Mrs Arthur James plays Elizabeth Cavendish, the daughter of Bess Of Hardwicke (Countess of Shrewsbury) who married the 1st Earl of Lennox, Charles Stuart.
I’ve allowed Mrs James to create a discrete gap on the page between Robert Dudley and his wife Amy Robsart:
She is played by another lady making use of the feathery fan, Mrs C G Hamilton. Lady Dudley is famous for falling downstairs and dying in suspiscious circumstances, supposedly to clear the way for Queen Elizabeth to marry Sir Robert. This of course never happened. I wonder if Mrs Hamilton stayed away from Lord and Lady Tweedmouth during the Ball, or if they just laughed about the suggestion of murder?
Perhaps we should turn to some guests whose costumes have a purely aesthetic effect.
This slightly confused lady is noted down as simply Lady Bingham, with no suggestion as to who she represents.
Other guests chose roles from the world of art.
This is Lady Beatrice Herbert portraying Gainsborough’s Giovann Baccelli. Compare her with the painting itself:
A pretty accurate rendition I would say. the orginal painting is in the collection of Tate Britain.
Another artistic lady:
Lady Evelyn Ewart doesn’t quite replicate the pose but the dress is almost exactly the same
I haven’t been able to find an exact image of the original but this is based on a miniature by Cosway.
Miss Madeleine Stanley looking languid and pastoral as Lady Hopeton. She may be a relation of this gentleman, the Hon.G Stanley:
I’m surprised I haven’t used him before. Possibly because the picture is labelled “period of Louis XVI” which deosn’t quite fit with the Roman style costume. It’s a good picture though.
There are still some pictures left for another post another day but let’s finish on one of the lying down poses.
Maria Leschynska was the daughter of King Stanislaw I of Poland (not a king for very long) who married Louis XV of France. Sitting for the photographer is Lady Georgiana Curzon, (nee Spencer-Churchill) daughter of the 7th Duke of Marlborough (John Winston Spencer Churchill) and hence younger sister of Lady Tweedmouth and some kind of relation to the Duchess in the first picture. You can work it out. I’m going to follow Lady Georgiana’s example and lie down.
I hope you consider these fancy dress posts suitable for the post-Christmas period of idle entertainment. They’re usually popular anyway. We’ll be back to more local matters next week.The other costume ball posts here.
I’ve just seen the Mayor’s firework display from my kitchen window. Not bad. A happy new year to you all.