Gawaine Baillie

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Sir Gawaine Baillie, Bt
Born (1934-03-08)8 March 1934
Died 21 December 2003(2003-12-21) (aged 69)
Nationality English
Occupation Racing driver (amateur),
Known for British Saloon Car Championship,
HPC (Engineering company)

Sir Gawaine George Hope Baillie, 7th Baronet (8 March 1934 – 21 December 2003) was an amateur motor racing driver, engineer, industrialist, stamp collector, and the owner of the estate surrounding Leeds Castle, the ancient fortress in Kent. The castle itself was bequeathed to the nation upon his mother's death.[1] After his death, it was discovered that he had amassed, almost entirely in secret, one of the greatest collections of stamps of the former British Empire.[2]

Early life[edit]

Sir Gawaine was raised at Leeds Castle, the ancient fortress in Kent that his mother Lady Baillie (née Olive Cecilia Paget), a Whitney heiress, had bought with her sister Dorothy Paget in 1928. At age five, after World War II broke out, Baillie went to live with his American cousins, the Whitney family. Soon after returning to England, his father died, and he succeeded to the family title, becoming 7th Baronet of Polkemmet, Linlithgowshire on 8 January 1947.[3]

Following education at Eton and Cambridge, he created HPC Engineering in 1959, a company which specialises in sub-contract manufacturing for the automotive, aerospace, computer, defence, medical and machine tool industries. He served as chairman and managing director of the company for the rest of his life. He was also an amateur race car driver, competing in numerous championships against Stirling Moss, Mike Hawthorn and Jackie Stewart.[4] After retiring from motor racing, he returned to his boyhood hobby of collecting stamps.

Racing career[edit]

Sir Gawaine's driving career began in 1956 when he first started racing a Lotus Eleven sports car. By 1958, he became a member of the Equipe Endeavour team, earning several wins in a Jaguar Mark 1 including the John Davy Trophy at Brands Hatch as part of the inaugural British Saloon Car Championship season. By 1960, Sir Gawaine had purchased a Lotus Elite and entered several rounds of the World Sportscar Championship, including his first attempt at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

In 1961, Sir Gawaine entered the Tour de France automobile competition, finishing second in the touring car category. The following year, he crashed his Jaguar E-Type during the same competition and fell 100 ft (30 m) down a hillside. Sir Gawaine returned to the British Saloon Car Championship the following year, now campaigning an American-built Ford Galaxie. The Galaxie was also transported to Australia in 1964, where Sir Gawaine and Lex Davison entered the Sandown 6 Hour International.

After Sir Gawaine's Australian tour with the Galaxie, he purchased a Ford Mustang for the 1965 British Saloon Car Championship, he finished second in the class championship behind his teammate Roy Pierpoint. In 1966 he finished first in class[5] with a Ford Falcon which benefited from his expertise in engine compression technology.[1] By 1967 Sir Gawaine had retired from racing.

Stamp collecting[edit]

Baillie owned a copy of this 2d Tyrian plum stamp

Sir Gawaine's goal in stamp collecting was to build a comprehensive collection of postage stamps from Great Britain and the British Empire, starting with the earliest issues of Queen Victoria through to the present. Sir Gawaine was interested in only the most perfectly preserved stamps and his collection is distinguished from others of comparable scale by his exacting standards. He mastered at least ten areas of specialisation and acquired over 100,000 stamps,[6] of the highest quality including a copy of the scarce Edward VII 2d Tyrian plum.[6] The collection was considered the most comprehensive of its kind and, when Sotheby's put the stamps up for auction, after his death, the collection was described as the most important to be sold in more than 50 years. Sotheby's divided the stamps into ten separate auctions, the first nine of which exceeded the initial estimate of £11m, by more than £4m.[7]

Personal life[edit]

In 1966, he married Margot Beaubien, the daughter of Senator Louis Beaubien of Montreal. They had a daughter Liza, born 1969, and a son, Adrian, born 1973, who upon his father's death became Sir Adrian Louis Baillie, 8th Baronet.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Sir Gawaine Baillie, Bt". Obituaries. London: The Daily Telegraph. 2 January 2004. Retrieved 30 June 2008. 
  2. ^ Adams, Susan (14 September 2004). "Lots of Stamps". What's Hot Now. Retrieved 30 June 2008. 
  3. ^ Lundy, Darryl. "A genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain as well as the royal families of Europe: Person Page – 12893". Retrieved 30 June 2008. 
  4. ^ "The Seventh Sale of Stamps from the Collection of Sir Gawaine Baillie" (pdf). Press release. Sotheby's. 1 February 2006. Retrieved 29 August 2016. 
  5. ^ "Sir Gawaine Baillie". Motor Sport Magazine. February 2004. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  6. ^ a b "Stamp collection raises millions". BBC. 1 October 2004. 
  7. ^ "The Philatelic Collection formed by Sir Gawaine Baillie, Bt". News Stories. 25 September 2004. Retrieved 30 June 2008.