Charles Palmer-Tomkinson

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Charles Palmer-Tomkinson
Born (1940-01-04) 4 January 1940 (age 75)[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, a former Olympic skier, and a close friend of Prince Charles.


Charles Palmer-Tomkinson was a competitor in the 1964 Winter Olympics in the Giant Slalom and Downhill events. Other members of his family were also Olympians. His father James competed in the 1936 and 1948 Winter Olympic Games, and died aged 36 in 1952 after a skiing accident. His brother, Jeremy, competed in the 1968, 1972, 1976 and 1980 Winter Olympics' in various events.


The Palmer-Tomkinson family own substantial lands in and around Birstall, Leicestershire,[2] and Wanlip, Leicestershire, having inherited Wanlip Hall in that county[3] [8][dead link]. Circa 2001, Palmer-Tomkinson sold some land at Hallam Fields, Birstall, Leicestershire to Jelson Builders for development as homes, schools, and community buildings over the next ten years.[4] According to the Birstall Post, in April 2004, Palmer-Tomkinson continues to be a major local notable.[2][5] In the Summer of 2010, he donated £1 million to Longslade Community College 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[6][7][8] 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.[9] He was appointed High Sheriff for Hampshire for 1994.[10] He is regarded as a doyen of the country set. As of 2006, he and his wife currently live on their estate in Dummer, Hampshire.[11][12]

Royal connection[edit]

Charles and Patricia (Patti) Palmer-Tomkinson have been close friends of Prince Charles since the Seventies.[13]

According to newspaper reports, Prince Charles became godfather to the younger daughter Tara.[14][15] However, she is not listed as a godchild in other more reliable reports.[16] Charles and Diana visited their home in Birchall in 1986.

Charles was Prince Charles' ski instructor, according to newspaper reports.[17] This connection meant that the Palmer-Tomkinsons steadily accompanied Prince Charles, even after his marriage, 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, Royal Equerry), as well as injuring Prince Charles.[17][18][19] Major Lindsay and Mrs Palmer-Tomkinson were helicoptered to Davos, where Lindsay was declared dead and Patti found to have severe leg injuries. Her life was saved by her Swiss guide giving her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.[20] She spent four months in a Swiss hospital.[21]

After Charles and Diana separated, the Palmer-Tomkinsons and their children continued to holiday with Prince Charles and his family three times a year; this royal friendship was responsible for propelling the younger daughter, Tara, into the public eye in 1994.[22] As of 2004, the older Palmer-Tomkinsons continued to ski with the three princes.[23]

Family background[edit]

Charles Anthony Palmer-Tomkinson (b. 1940[1]) is the eldest son and child of James Algernon Palmer-Tomkinson and Doris Palmer-Tomkinson (formerly Doris Freidrich, of Basle, Switzerland)).[24] 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.[25]

His paternal grandfather James Edward Palmer-Tomkinson, of Wanlip Hall, Leicestershire, changed the family name from Tomkinson to Palmer-Tomkinson in 1933.[26] He was the younger son of the Right Hon. James Tomkinson, PC, MP for Crewe 1900–1910, and former High Sheriff for Chester in 1887,[27] and his wife Emily Frances Palmer, daughter of Sir George Joseph Palmer, 3rd Baronet. James Edward Palmer-Tomkinson inherited Wanlip Hall in Leicestershire from his maternal uncle Sir Archdale Robert Palmer, 4th and last Baronet, and thus changed his name in 1933.[28]

The Rt Hon James Tomkinson was a descendant of Lieutenant-Colonel William Tomkinson of Willington Hall (1790–1872).[29]

James Edward Palmer-Tomkinson (then Tomkinson) married Marion Lindsay Smith, daughter of Lindsay Eric Smith (a second cousin of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother via her Smith paternal grandmother Frances Dora Smith). His 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.[30]


Charles Palmer-Tomkinson is married to Patti, or the former Patricia Dawson. They have three children: James, Santa (the writer Santa Montefiore) (b. 2 February 1970),[31] and Tara (b. 23 December 1971), a socialite and TV personality. The two elder children are married, and have issue. Tara is as yet unmarried, but gained control of her trust fund in 2001 when she turned 30.[17]

Charles Palmer-Tomkinson has a younger brother Jeremy who was also a Winter Olympian between 1968 and 1980.[32] Their father James Tomkinson, later Palmer-Tomkinson, was also himself a British Winter Olympian.

Another brother Christopher Palmer-Tomkinson (b. 1942), of Little Bentley, Colchester, Essex [33] is a senior company executive, formerly with Cazenove, and now with other companies.;[34] his wife Virginia Viola Palmer-Tomkinson is a Parish Councillor.[35] Christopher's son Dominic is also with the same company as his father, Highland Gold.[36]


  1. ^ a b c 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. ^ a b "Birstall Post November 2001 (220". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  3. ^ "Dorfold Hall, Nantwich, Cheshire, England, UK and the Tomkinson Family". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Birstall Post April 2004 (249)". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  6. ^ BBC In Depth: Newsmakers Friday, 30 August 2002, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK. Retrieved 5 June 2007."Tara Palmer-Tomkinson: Still got It?"
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ "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.[1] 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.[2]
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ The London Gazette: no. 53618. p. 4244. 18 Mar 1994.
  11. ^ Lundy, Darryl. "Charles Anthony Palmer-Tomkinson". The Peerage. Retrieved 5 June 2007. [unreliable source?]
  12. ^ "Palmer-Tomkinson C A". Applegate. 2008-07-07. Retrieved 2012-08-26. 
  13. ^ Unknown.. The Guardian Friday 11 March 1988. "Prince in fatal ski incident" Retrieved 5 June 2007.
  14. ^ Boshoff, Alison. Daily Mail 22 May 2006. Retrieved 5 June 2007."Tarnished Tara: the past-It girl" Retrieved 5 June 2007
  15. ^ Sunday Mirror. 14 November 2004. "Interview: Tara Palmer-Tomkinson: 'Going into the jungle saved my.."[dead link] Retrieved 5 June 2007
  16. ^ Demoskoff, Yvonne. "Royal Godchildren: Godchildren of HRH The Prince of Wales" [3]. 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.
  17. ^ a b c "BBC report ''ibid''. Retrieved 5 June 2007". BBC News. 2002-08-30. Retrieved 2012-08-26. 
  18. ^ The Guardian Friday 11 March 1988. "Prince in fatal ski incident". Retrieved 5 June 2007]
  19. ^ Prince in fatal ski incident. The Guardian
  20. ^ BBC On This Day online. "1988: Avalanche hits royal ski party". Retrieved 5 June 2007
  21. ^ Darrach, Brad, and others.. People, 31 October 1988. Subsequently part of the Diana special tribute in TIME" Prince Charles: A Dangerous Age"[dead link]
  22. ^ Boshoff, Alison. Daily Mail 22 May 2006. Retrieved 5 June 2007."Tarnished Tara: the past-It girl"
  23. ^ BBC News International. Sunday, 28 March 2004 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK. Retrieved 5 June 2007. "William - 'Awesome' to ski again"
  24. ^ Lundy, Darryl. ""James Algernon Palmer-Tomkinson" (b. 3 April 1915, d. 7 January 1952)". The Peerage. Retrieved 5 June 2007. [unreliable source?]
  25. ^ "Hurst Lodge". Berkshire History. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  26. ^ Lundy, Darryl. ""James Edward Palmer-Tomkinson" (b. 1879).". The Peerage. Retrieved 5 June 2007. [unreliable source?]
  27. ^ Lundy, Darryl. "Rt. Hon. James Tomkinson (b. 1840, d. 1914)". The Peerage. Retrieved 5 June 2007. [unreliable source?]
  28. ^ [4] Retrieved 5 June 2007
  29. ^ Tomkinson, Rob. "Eminent Tomkinsons" [5]. October 2003. Retrieved 5 June 2007. According to this website, one Lt Col William Tomkinson (1790-1872) had seven children, of whom James Tomkinson, PC (great-grandfather of Charles Palmer-Tomkinson), was one child. The Lt Colonel 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 James Tomkinson (1711 - 1794), of Dorfold Hall, acquired in 1754 and remaining in the family for 90 years until an heiress married into the Tollemache family. This James was son of a Manchester lawyer, William Tomlinson, of Bostock, and their descendants' rise to landed gentry exemplifies the rise in status and wealth of the professional classes in the 18th century.[6]
  30. ^ 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.[7]
  31. ^ The Independent 7 February 2005; online here Findarticles[dead link] accessed 5 June 2007
  32. ^ Lundy, Darryl. "Jeremy James Palmer-Tomkinson (b. 4 November 1943).". The Peerage. Retrieved 5 June 2007. [unreliable source?]
  33. ^ "Little Bentley Hall Garden Show will be held 30th May-2nd June 2013 - Little Bentley Hall Waterways and Garden Show 2010". Retrieved 2012-08-26. 
  34. ^ "Directors & Management". Highland Gold. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  35. ^ "Little Bentley Parish". 2011-05-04. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  36. ^ "Uphill For Highland Gold, As Barrick Gives Game Away | Dances With Bears". 2007-05-31. Retrieved 2012-08-26. 

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