Audrey Hylton-Foster, Baroness Hylton-Foster

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Audrey Pellew Hylton-Foster, Baroness Hylton-Foster DBE (née Brown; 19 May 1908 – 31 October 2002), was the daughter of Douglas Clifton Brown, 1st Viscount Ruffside, and Violet Cicely Kathleen Wollaston. She married Sir Harry Braustyn Hylton-Foster, who had started a distinguished career at the Bar in 1931; they had no children.

Born in Simla, India, she was educated at St George’s, Ascot, and Ivy House, Wimbledon. Both her father and husband served as Speaker of the House of Commons.

Red Cross work[edit]

Audrey Hylton-Foster first lived at Speaker’s House during her father’s time there, when she went to recover from measles. While she was convalescing she started working for the British Red Cross, and this, apart from politics, became her life’s work.

During World War II she was a nurse at St Luke’s Hospital, Chelsea. She cycled thousands of miles around London on her Red Cross duties. In 1950 she became director of the Chelsea division of the British Red Cross. She was at various times president, chairman and patron of the London branch. In late 1980 she was acting as consultant at the national headquarters.


Her husband began his political career after World War II. He lost his first try at a seat in the House of Commons for the Shipley constituency in 1945. By 1950 he was Member of Parliament (MP) for York. In 1951 and 1955 his majorities were slim; however, in 1959, after changing constituencies, his majority was a very healthy 17,000.

After her husband's death in office in 1965, she was created a life peer as Baroness Hylton-Foster, of the City of Westminster on 7 December 1965.[1] Despite her prior objections to women politicians, she became an active member of the House of Lords, and for many years served as Convenor of the Crossbench peers. She was appointed a Dame of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 1990 Birthday Honours.[2]


Audrey Hylton-Foster lived in a converted Coach House on Leith Hill in Surrey. Each year she decided to open her gardens to the public, in order to raise money for various charities. One year, with help from actress Virginia McKenna, a substantial amount was raised for the Born Free Foundation.

She was a passionate gardener in her later years and would be out in her garden in all weathers right up until her death. The Garden Open Day raised funds for a number of good causes including the British Red Cross, Cancer Research, local schools etc. All supported by her loyal staff Mr and Mrs Pinchin.


She died on 31 October 2002, at her home, aged 94.


  1. ^ "no. 43834". The London Gazette. 7 December 1965. p. 11451. 
  2. ^ "(Supplement) no. 52173". The London Gazette. 16 June 1990. p. 7. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
The Lord Strang
Convenor of the Crossbench Peers
Succeeded by
The Lord Weatherill