Wilfrid Ashley, 1st Baron Mount Temple
|Colonel The Right Honourable
The Lord Mount Temple
|Minister for Transport|
11 November 1924 – 4 June 1929
|Prime Minister||Stanley Baldwin|
|Preceded by||Harry Gosling|
|Succeeded by||Herbert Morrison|
|Born||Wilfrid William Ashley
13 September 1867
|Died||3 July 1939 (aged 71)|
|Spouse(s)||(1) Amalia Mary Maud Cassel
(2) Muriel Emily Spencer (d.1954)
|Alma mater||Magdalen College, Oxford|
Colonel Wilfrid William Ashley, 1st Baron Mount Temple, PC (13 September 1867 – 3 July 1939), was a British soldier and Conservative politician. He served as Minister of Transport between 1924 and 1929 under Stanley Baldwin.
Background and education
Ashley was the son of Evelyn Ashley, second surviving son of the social reformer Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury. His mother was Sybella Charlotte Farquhar, daughter of Sir Walter Farquhar, 3rd Baronet. William Cowper-Temple, 1st Baron Mount Temple, was his great-uncle. He was educated at Harrow and Magdalen College, Oxford.
Ashley, who held the rank of Colonel in the British Army, was well known as an activist in various pressure groups before commencing his party political career. He was a leading figure in the Navy League and also set up the anti-state intervention No More Waste Committee during the First World War. He was subsequently involved in the foundation of the Comrades of the Great War in 1917 and as President of the group helped to ensure that the ex-servicemen's movement was closely linked to the Conservative Party at its foundation.
Ashley was elected to parliament in 1906 to represent Blackpool, holding the seat until 1918 before subsequently sitting as member for Fylde until 1922 and New Forest from 1922 to 1932. He served under Bonar Law and Stanley Baldwin as Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Parliamentary Secretary to the Office of Works from October 1922 until October 1923, when he was appointed Under-Secretary of State for War, which he remained until January 1924. Ashley was sworn of the Privy Council in February 1924 and when the Conservatives returned to power under Baldwin in November of that year he was made Minister for Transport, an office he retained until the fall of the Baldwin administration in 1929. He left the House of Commons in 1932 and was raised to the peerage as Baron Mount Temple, of Lee in the County of Southampton, a revival of the title held by his great-uncle.
Lord Mount Temple remained active within the House of Lords and was a vocal supporter of the policy of appeasement towards Nazi Germany. He admired Adolf Hitler for his anti-communism, although much of his conviction rested on the belief that the Treaty of Versailles had been unjust to begin with and that it should be revised regardless of who was in government in Germany. In 1935 in order to underline his support for the Germans Ashley was instrumental in establishing the Anglo-German Fellowship. He served as chairman of both this group and Anti-Socialist Union simultaneously in the later 1930s.
As AGF chairman, Lord Mount Temple (as he now was) visited Germany in mid 1937 and held a meeting with Hitler. Unlike some of his contemporaries in the Fellowship, the laissez-faire capitalist Mount Temple did not support ideological Nazism (perhaps due in part to the fact that his wife was Jewish). In the aftermath of Kristallnacht he resigned in protest from the chairmanship although his membership of the group continued.
Lord Mount Temple married Amalia Mary Maud Cassel, daughter and only child of financier Sir Ernest Cassel, in early January, 1901. Amongst the wedding guests was The Prince Albert Edward, The Prince of Wales (the wedding taking place on 4 January, only eighteen days before Albert Edward became King-Emperor), who was a friend of Cassel. The couple had two daughters:
- Edwina, Countess Mountbatten of Burma (1901–1960), who married Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma (1900–1979)
- Ruth Mary Clarisse (1906-1986), who married Alec Cunningham-Reid (1895–1977) in 1927. They divorced in 1940 and in 1944 she married Thomas Cholmondeley, 4th Baron Delamere (1900–1979). They divorced in 1955.
After his first wife's early death he married, as his second wife, Muriel Emily ("Molly") Forbes-Sempill, the former wife of Rear-Admiral The Hon. Arthur Forbes-Sempill, daughter of The Rev. Walter Spencer and sister of Margery Greenwood, Viscountess Greenwood.
Lady Mount Temple had an interest in interior decoration and floral design, which was then highly fashionable; she had a florist business named Flower Decorations. The couple commissioned the architect Oliver Hill to design two Westminster town houses, naming them both Gayfere House. The first house, built at 12 Gayfere Street (1923–26), had a drawing room completely decorated with gold leaf. The second, at the corner of Gayfere Street and Great Peter Street (1929–32), was decorated in Art Deco style, making much use of mirrored walls and ceilings, most famously in a bathroom called by the Press "Lady Mount Temple's Crystal Palace".
Lord Mount Temple died in July 1939, aged 71, when the barony became extinct.
- "Lt.-Col. Wilfred William Ashley, 1st and last Baron Mount Temple", The Peerage, 18 August 2011
- Christof Mauch, Thomas Zeller, The world beyond the windshield: roads and landscapes in the United States and Europe, Ohio University Press, 2008, p. 169
- Frank McDonough, Neville Chamberlain, appeasement, and the British road to war, Manchester University Press, 1998, p. 96
- Niall Barr, The lion and the poppy: British veterans, politics, and society, 1921-1939, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005, pp. 12-13
- Cameron Hazlehurst, Sally Whitehead, Christine Woodland, A guide to the papers of British cabinet ministers, 1900-1964, Cambridge University Press, 1996, p. 30
- "no. 32910". The London Gazette. 22 February 1924. p. 1549.
- "no. 32992". The London Gazette. 14 November 1924. p. 8241.
- "no. 33790". The London Gazette. 15 January 1932. p. 346.
- McDonough, Neville Chamberlain, pp. 96-97
- McDonough, Neville Chamberlain, p. 97
- Thomas P. Linehan, British Fascism, 1918-39: Parties, Ideology and Culture, Manchester University Press, 2000, p. 46
- N. J. Crowson, Facing fascism: the Conservative party and the European dictators, 1935-1940, Routledge, 1997, p. 23
- Crowson, Facing Fascism, p. 32
- Sidney Lee, King Edward VII: A Biography, Part 2, Kessinger Publishing, 2004, p. 62
- "Lady Delamere, Figure in Murder," New York Times. September 5, 1987.
- Powers, Alan (2008). The Twentieth Century House in Britain: From the Archives of Country Life. London: Aurum Press. pp. 38–41. ISBN 1-84513-012-X.
- Powers, Alan (1989). Oliver Hill: Architect and Lover of Life 1887–1968. London: Mouton Publications. p. 65. ISBN 0-9514250-0-5.
- Historic England. "North House and Gayfere House (1357066)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Wilfrid Ashley, 1st Baron Mount Temple
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
Henry Wilson Worsley-Taylor
|Member of Parliament for Blackpool
1906 – 1918
Albert Lindsay Parkinson
|New constituency||Member of Parliament for Fylde
1918 – 1922
|Member of Parliament for New Forest and Christchurch
1922 – 1932
John Digby Mills
|Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport
Hon. Walter Guinness
|Under-Secretary of State for War
|Minister of Transport