Edith Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Marchioness of Londonderry
The Marchioness of Londonderry
Lady Edith Vane-Tempest-Stewart by Philip de László, 1927
Edith Helen Chaplin
3 December 1878
Blankney, Lincolnshire, England
|Died||23 April 1959 (aged 80)|
Mount Stewart, County Down, Northern Ireland
Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 7th Marquess of Londonderry
(m. 1899; died 1949)
|Children||Lady Maureen Vane-Tempest-Stewart|
Robin Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 8th Marquess of Londonderry
Lady Margaret Vane-Tempest-Stewart
Lady Helen Vane-Tempest-Stewart
Lady Mairi Vane-Tempest-Stewart
|Parents||Henry Chaplin, 1st Viscount Chaplin|
Lady Florence Sutherland-Leveson-Gower
Edith Helen Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Marchioness of Londonderry, DBE (née Chaplin; 3 December 1878 – 23 April 1959) was a noted and influential society hostess in the United Kingdom between World War I and World War II, a friend of the first Labour prime minister, Ramsay MacDonald. She was a noted gardener and a writer and editor of the works of others.
Born as Edith Helen Chaplin in Blankney, Lincolnshire, she was the daughter of Henry Chaplin, landowner and Conservative politician and later the 1st Viscount Chaplin (1840–1923), and Lady Florence Sutherland-Leveson-Gower (1855–1881). After the death of her mother in 1881, Edith was raised largely at Dunrobin Castle, Sutherland, the estate of her maternal grandfather, the third Duke of Sutherland.
In 1914, after the outbreak of World War I, she was appointed the Colonel-in-Chief of the Women's Volunteer Reserve (WVR), a volunteer force formed of women replacing the men who had left work and gone up to the Front. The WVR was established in December 1914 in response to German bombing raids on East Coast towns during the First World War
Lady Londonderry also aided with the organisation of the Officers' Hospital set up in her house, and was the first woman to be appointed to be a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Military Division, upon the Order's establishment in 1917.
When her father-in-law died in 1915, her husband inherited the title, whereupon Edith became Marchioness of Londonderry. This made her chatelaine of several large houses designed for entertaining, notably Londonderry House, the family's London townhouse in Mayfair, and Mount Stewart, the family seat in County Down. They also owned other properties such as Seaham Hall and Wynward Park in County Durham, and Plas Machynlleth in Wales.
During the 1920s, Lady Londonderry created the gardens at the Londonderry family estate of Mount Stewart, near Newtownards, County Down. She added the Shamrock Garden, the Sunken Garden, increased the size of the lake, added a Spanish Garden with a small hut, the Italian Garden, the Dodo Terrace, Menagerie, the Fountain Pool and laid out walks in the Lily Wood and rest of the estate. This dramatic change led to the gardens being proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. She was a patron of the botanist and plant collector Frank Kingdon-Ward.
After she created her garden and the death of her husband, she gave the gardens to the National Trust in 1957. They are regarded by Heritage Island as being one of the best gardens in the British Isles.
On 28 November 1899, she married Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh. They were both 21. She married into a prominent land-owning and political family. Her husband was a soldier in World War I and is best remembered for his tenure as Secretary of State for Air in the 1930s, preserving the Royal Air Force against cuts, and for his praise of Nazi Germany in the 1930s. He was forced out of the government in 1935 and never returned. Together, they were the parents of five children:
- Lady Maureen Helen Vane-Tempest-Stewart (1900–1942), who married Oliver Stanley.
- Edward Charles Stewart Robert Vane-Tempest-Stewart (1902–1955), who was known as Robin and who became the 8th Marquess of Londonderry. He married Romaine Combe in 1931.
- Lady Margaret Frances Anne Vane-Tempest-Stewart (1910–1966), who married firstly Alan Muntz, and secondly Hugh Falkus.
- Lady Helen Maglona Vane-Tempest-Stewart (1911–1986), who married firstly Edward Jessel, 2nd Baron Jessel, and secondly Dennis Whittington Walsh.
- Lady Mairi Elizabeth Vane-Tempest-Stewart (1921–2009), who married Viscount Bury.
On the death of the 7th Marquess, in 1949, Lady Londonderry became Dowager Marchioness of Londonderry. Lady Londonderry died of cancer on 23 April 1959, aged 80.
Descendants and legacy
One of Lady Londonderry's grandchildren, Annabel Goldsmith, is also a noted London socialite.
Lady Londonderry wrote and/or edited several books, among which are:
- The Russian journals of Martha and Catherine Wilmot : being an account by two Irish ladies of their adventures in Russia as guests of the celebrated Princess Daschkaw, containing vivid descriptions of contemporary court life and society, and lively anecdotes of many interesting historical characters, 1803-1808 (1934).[c]
- Frances Anne: The Life and Times of Frances Anne, Marchioness of Londonderry, and Her Husband, Charles, Third Marquess of Londonderry (1958).[e]
|Ancestors of Edith Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Marchioness of Londonderry|
- A memoir of her father, who was squire of Blankney and effectively the country's first minister of agriculture.
- A collection of children's stories with an Ulster flavour.
- Lady Londonderry, with the Ulster barrister H. Montgomery Hyde, edited the letters and journals of Catherine Wilmot and her sister Martha. Catherine had travelled on the Continent with Lord and Lady Mount Cashell, and Martha had spent several years in Russia almost as the adopted daughter of Princess Dashkova, the favourite of Catherine the Great. The society life that the sisters depict is like War and Peace.
- Lady Londonderry's autobiography.
- A memoir of Lady Londonderry's husband's great-grandparents.
- Noakes, Lucy (2006). Women in the British Army: War and the Gentle Sex. Routledge. p. 53. ISBN 978-0415390576.
- Urquhart, Diane. "Stewart, Edith Helen Vane-Tempest-". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/45461. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Kershaw, Ian (2004). Making Friends with Hitler: Lord Londonderry and Britain's Road to War. Penguin. pp. 17–19, 65–6, 108, 128. ISBN 0-14-303607-6.
- National Trust: Mount Stewart House, Garden and Temple of the Winds Archived 1 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- "The Constant Gardener". The Australian.
- Heritage Ireland Newsletter, April 2006, p5 Archived 17 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- Alvin Jackson, ‘Stewart, Charles Stewart Henry Vane-Tempest-, seventh marquess of Londonderry (1878–1949)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 accessed 6 Jan 2016
- De Courcy, Anne. Society's Queen: The Life of Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry. London: Phoenix, 2004. ISBN 0-7538-1730-6 (Originally published as Circe: The Life of Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry. London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1992. ISBN 1-85619-363-2)
- "Magnificent jewels and noble jewels". sothebys.com. Archived from the original on 16 March 2016. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
- Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Edith Helen (1926). Henry Chaplin: a memoir. Macmillan. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
- "The Magic Ink-Pot". National Trust. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
- "The Magic Ink-Pot - National Collection of Children's Books". nccb.tcd.ie. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
- The Russian journals of Martha and Catherine Wilmot: Being an account by two Irish ladies of their adventures in Russia as guests of the celebrated Princess Daschkaw, containing vivid descriptions of contemporary court life and society, and lively anecdotes of many interesting historical characters, 1803-1808 Edited by the Marchioness of Londonderry & H. Montgomery Hyde.
- Londonderry, Edith Helen (1938). "Retrospect. [An Autobiography. With Plates, Including Portraits.]". Retrieved 29 May 2018.
- Edith Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Marchioness of Londonderry (1958). "Frances Anne: the life and times of Frances Anne, marchioness of Londonderry, and her husband, Charles, third marquess of Londonderry". London : Macmillan ; New York : St. Martin's Press. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
- "Archival material relating to Edith Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Marchioness of Londonderry". UK National Archives.
- National Trust shines light on women's histories to celebrate the anniversary of female suffrage in 2018