Charles Palmer-Tomkinson

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Charles Palmer-Tomkinson
Born Charles Anthony Palmer-Tomkinson
(1940-01-04) 4 January 1940 (age 77)[1]
Hampshire, England
Occupation landowner
Spouse(s) Patricia Palmer-Tomkinson
Children James Palmer-Tomkinson
Santa Montefiore
Tara Palmer-Tomkinson
Parent(s) James Palmer-Tomkinson

Charles Anthony Palmer-Tomkinson (born 4 January 1940[1]) is an English landowner and philanthropist,[2] a former Olympic skier, and a close friend of Prince Charles.


The Palmer-Tomkinson family owns substantial lands in Leicestershire, in and around Birstall[3] and Wanlip, having inherited Wanlip Hall.[4] Circa 2001, Palmer-Tomkinson sold some land at Hallam Fields, Birstall, to Jelson Builders for development as homes, schools, and community buildings over the following ten years.[5] According to the Birstall Post, in April 2004, Palmer-Tomkinson continued to be a major local notable.[3][6] In the Summer of 2010, he donated £1 million to Longslade Community College (as of 2015 The Cedars Academy) to build The Palmer-Tomkinson Centre for post-16-year-old students.

Charles Palmer-Tomkinson owns the 1,200-acre (4.9 km2) Dummer Grange estate near Basingstoke, Hampshire[7][8][9] The late Major Ronald Ferguson and his younger daughter Sarah, Duchess of York were close neighbours at the 220-acre (0.89 km2) estate Dummer Down Farm.[10] As of 2006, Palmer-Tomkinson and his wife were living on their Dummer estate.[11][12]

He was appointed High Sheriff for Hampshire for 1994.[13] He is regarded as a doyen of the country set.[citation needed]


Charles Palmer-Tomkinson was a competitor in the 1964 Winter Olympics in the Giant Slalom and Downhill events.

Royal connection[edit]

Charles and Patricia (Patti) Palmer-Tomkinson have been close friends of Prince Charles since the 1970s.[14] According to newspaper reports, Prince Charles became godfather to the younger daughter Tara.[15][16] However, she is not listed as a godchild in other more reliable reports.[17] Charles and Diana visited their home in Birchall in 1986. Charles was Prince Charles's ski instructor, according to newspaper reports.[18] This connection meant that the Palmer-Tomkinsons steadily accompanied Prince Charles, even after his marriage to Diana, on skiing holidays in Switzerland.

In 1988, Patricia Palmer-Tomkinson was severely injured, and almost died, in a skiing accident that claimed the life of one of their close friends, Major Hugh Lindsay, a Royal Equerry, as well as injuring Prince Charles.[18][19][20] Major Lindsay and Mrs Palmer-Tomkinson were helicoptered to Davos, where he was declared dead and she was found to have severe leg injuries. Her life was saved by her Swiss guide giving her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.[21] She spent four months in a Swiss hospital.[22]

After Charles and Diana separated, the Palmer-Tomkinsons and their children continued to spend holidays with Charles and his family three times a year; in 1994 this royal friendship was instrumental in propelling their younger daughter Tara into the public eye.[23] As of 2004, the older Palmer-Tomkinsons continued to ski with the three princes.[24]

Immediate family[edit]

Charles Anthony Palmer-Tomkinson is the eldest son and child of James and Doris (née Freidrich, of Basle, Switzerland) Palmer-Tomkinson.[25] The father was a landowner, who was able to provide a separate house and estate for his elder daughter Jane, Lady Ingram, upon her marriage to a baronet.[26] James was also an Olympian, competing in the 1936 and 1948 Winter Olympic Games. He died aged 36 in 1952 after a skiing accident.[citation needed]

Charles's younger brother, Christopher (born 1942)[27] is a senior company executive, formerly with Cazenove. Christopher's wife, Virginia Viola Palmer-Tomkinson, is a parish councillor.[28] Christopher's son Dominic works at Highland Gold, where his father is also employed.[29] Highland Gold is part-owned by Millhouse Capital, the investment vehicle of Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich,[30] and part-owned (until 2012) by Barrick Gold, the world's largest gold producer.[31] The latter is a business set up by Peter Munk, a relation by marriage of the Palmer-Tomkinsons.[32]

Another brother, Jeremy (born 4 November 1943), competed in the 1968, 1972, 1976 and 1980 Winter Olympics' in various events.[citation needed]

Family background[edit]

Charles's father's first cousin is the Dowager Duchess of Grafton, grandmother of the present Duke of Grafton and Mistress of the Robes to Queen Elizabeth II, who was born (Anne) Fortune Smith; through other members of the Smith landed gentry family, the Palmer-Tomkinsons are well-connected to the British aristocracy.[33]

Charles's paternal grandfather James Edward changed the family name from Tomkinson to Palmer-Tomkinson in 1933.[34] He was the younger son of the Right Hon. James Tomkinson, Privy Councillor, member of parliament for Crewe 1900–1910, and High Sheriff for Chester in 1887,[35] and his wife Emily Frances Palmer, daughter of Sir George Joseph Palmer, 3rd Baronet. In 1931 James Edward Tomkinson inherited Wanlip Hall in Leicestershire from his maternal uncle Sir Archdale Robert Palmer, 4th Baronet, on condition that he added the name of Palmer to his own.[36] James Edward Palmer-Tomkinson (then Tomkinson) married Marion Lindsay Smith, daughter of Lindsay Eric Smith and a second cousin of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (via her Smith paternal grandmother Frances Dora Smith).

The Right Hon. James Tomkinson was a descendant of Lieutenant-Colonel William Tomkinson of Willington Hall (1790–1872).[37]

Charles's cousin is Melanie Munk, second wife of philanthropist and entrepreneur Peter Munk. The Munks are also keen skiers, living part of the year at Klosters.[38]

Marriage and children[edit]

Charles Palmer-Tomkinson married Patricia (Patti) Dawson. She is from an Anglo-Argentine background, born in Argentina, growing up in "the English quarter of Buenos Aires", reading Country Life magazines in the expat Hurlingham Club. She also lived in Chile and Brazil, and had a British boarding school education. The couple met while she was working as a chalet girl in the Swiss resort of Klosters.[39] She is close to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.[40]

The couple have three children: James, Santa (a writer), and Tara, a socialite and TV personality. The two elder children are married, and have issue (children of their own). Tara gained control of her trust fund in 2001 when she turned 30.[18] She was found dead in her home on 8 February 2017.[41]


  1. ^ a b This date of birth for Charles Palmer-Tomkinson does not match those given by Darryl Lundy on his genealogical website [], or those given by British genealogist Michael Rhodes.
  2. ^ "It girl Tara cuts ribbon at £4.8m sixth-form". Leicester Mercury 18 November 2011
  3. ^ a b "Birstall Post November 2001 (220". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  4. ^ "Dorfold Hall, Nantwich, Cheshire, England, UK and the Tomkinson Family". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Birstall Post April 2004 (249)". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  7. ^ BBC In Depth: Newsmakers Friday, 30 August 2002, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK. Retrieved 5 June 2007."Tara Palmer-Tomkinson: Still got It?"
  8. ^ The house, Dummer Grange Farm, is described in 1920 as being a 2 storeys and attic house, built of brick with an old tiled roof. The front is E-shaped with flanking gables. It was built on the site of the 12th century Dummer Grange. No date is given for the late 17th century house as of 1920. Dummer Grange Farm
  9. ^ "Dummer is located 8 kilometres to the south-west of Basingstoke, with the M3 motorway passing close to its north-eastern boundary. The village lies within the gently undulating landscape of the central chalk downlands." The village dates back to the 11th century at least, because it is mentioned in the Domesday Book."Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-05.  Dummer Grange was owned by a different family until 1864, and it is not known when Charles Palmer-Tomkinson or his ancestors acquired the estate.[1]
  10. ^ Penny Churchill (2006-07-28). "Hampshire Now England's Hottest County | Fresh on the Market | Houses for sale, properties for sale". Country Life. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  11. ^ Lundy, Darryl. "Charles Anthony Palmer-Tomkinson". The Peerage. Retrieved 5 June 2007. [unreliable source]
  12. ^ "Palmer-Tomkinson C A". Applegate. 7 July 2008. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  13. ^ "No. 53618". The London Gazette. 18 Mar 1994. p. 4244. 
  14. ^ Unknown.. The Guardian Friday 11 March 1988. "Prince in fatal ski incident" Retrieved 5 June 2007.
  15. ^ Boshoff, Alison. Daily Mail 22 May 2006. Retrieved 5 June 2007."Tarnished Tara: the past-It girl" Retrieved 5 June 2007
  16. ^ Sunday Mirror. 14 November 2004. "Interview: Tara Palmer-Tomkinson: 'Going into the jungle saved my.."[dead link] Retrieved 5 June 2007
  17. ^ Demoskoff, Yvonne. "Royal Godchildren: Godchildren of HRH The Prince of Wales" [2]. Retrieved 5 June 2005. Demoskoff relies upon the following article "The Chosen Ones", by Jason Cowley in The Times, 3 February 1997 (pp 16-17) and versions thereof for her lists.
  18. ^ a b c "BBC report ''ibid''. Retrieved 5 June 2007". BBC News. 2002-08-30. Retrieved 2012-08-26. 
  19. ^ The Guardian Friday 11 March 1988. "Prince in fatal ski incident". Retrieved 5 June 2007]
  20. ^ Prince in fatal ski incident. The Guardian
  21. ^ BBC On This Day online. "1988: Avalanche hits royal ski party". Retrieved 5 June 2007
  22. ^ Darrach, Brad, and others.. People, 31 October 1988. Subsequently part of the Diana special tribute in TIME" Prince Charles: A Dangerous Age" Archived 18 July 2005 at the Wayback Machine.
  23. ^ Boshoff, Alison, in Daily Mail dated 22 May 2006. Retrieved 5 June 2007."Tarnished Tara: the past-It girl"
  24. ^ BBC News International. Sunday, 28 March 2004 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK. Retrieved 5 June 2007. "William - 'Awesome' to ski again"
  25. ^ Lundy, Darryl. ""James Algernon Palmer-Tomkinson" (3 April 1915 – 7 January 1952)". The Peerage. Retrieved 5 June 2007. [unreliable source]
  26. ^ "Hurst Lodge". Berkshire History. Retrieved 30 December 2011. 
  27. ^ "Little Bentley Hall Garden Show will be held 30 May-2 June 2013 - Little Bentley Hall Waterways and Garden Show 2010". Retrieved 2012-08-26. 
  28. ^ "Little Bentley Parish". 4 May 2011. Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2011. 
  29. ^ "Uphill For Highland Gold, As Barrick Gives Game Away". 31 May 2007. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  30. ^ James Quinn. "Roman Abramovich's Highland Gold Mining heads for FTSE 250", The Telegraph, 23 April 2011.
  31. ^ Emma Rowley, "Farewell Russia as Barrick exits Abramovich gold miner", The Telegraph, 26 April 2012.
  32. ^ ERIC REGULY. "Peter Munk: A mining magnate nears the end of his golden reign", The Globe and Mail, 15 March 2014.
  33. ^ A full listing of the Palmer-Tomkinson connections via the Smiths was previously available online as "Relatives of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother" from Yvonne Demoskoff's website, but has been taken down because of copyright violations.[3]
  34. ^ Lundy, Darryl. ""James Edward Palmer-Tomkinson" (b. 1879).". The Peerage. Retrieved 5 June 2007. [unreliable source]
  35. ^ Lundy, Darryl. "Rt. Hon. James Tomkinson (b. 1840, d. 1914)". The Peerage. Retrieved 5 June 2007. [unreliable source]
  36. ^ [4] Retrieved 5 June 2007
  37. ^ Tomkinson, Rob, "Eminent Tomkinsons Archived 30 August 2005 at the Wayback Machine.", dated October 2003. Retrieved 5 June 2007. According to this website, one Lt Col William Tomkinson (1790-1872) had seven children, including James Tomkinson PC, great-grandfather of Charles Palmer-Tomkinson, who bought Willington Hall in 1828. He was the son (presumably a younger son) of Henry Tomkinson of Dorfold Hall, Acton, near Nantwich, Cheshire, and the grandson of a prominent lawyer named James Tomkinson (1711-1794), of Dorfold Hall, acquired in 1754, which remained in the family for ninety years until inherited by an heiress who married into the Tollemache family. This James was a son of a Manchester lawyer called William Tomlinson, of Bostock, and their descendants' rise into the landed gentry exemplifies the rise in status and wealth of the professional classes in the 18th century."Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 August 2005. Retrieved 2007-06-05. 
  38. ^ "Peter Munk: A mining magnate nears the end of his golden reign". ERIC REGULY.The Globe and Mail 15 March 2014
  39. ^ "The lit girl" by Christa D'Souza. The Telegraph. 24 February 2001
  40. ^ "Writes of Passage". The Scotsman, 3 November 2007
  41. ^

External links[edit]

  • Photograph of Patti Palmer-Tomkinson at the 11 September 2006 memorial service for Bruce Shand, father-in-law of Prince Charles.[5], Retrieved 5 June 2007.