Lady Duff Gordon as "lady of the manor"


Mar 20, 2000
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Hi, Ben:

Lucile mentions Julia Cavendish in her memoir, as I mentioned, and also in an undated, partial letter to her sister Elinor Glyn. This letter was shared with me by Lucile’s grandson, the late Earl of Halsbury, along with another letter that was posted on this site some years ago. In inquiring after the whereabouts of Lucile’s letters, both before and after Lord Halsbury’s death, I was not able to locate the originals; members of her family were unable to determine what became of them. I understand from a relative that some letters were destroyed at one point by Halsbury himself, possibly carrying out the wishes of his mother (Lucile’s daughter), to whom many of them were addressed.

Luckily transcripts of a few letters were kept by Meredith Etherington-Smith (who wrote the 1986 biography of Lucile and Elinor) and myself; only a few originals survive in public collections. Since Lucile left no will, many of her possessions were also lost or scattered, including a book from her library with a somewhat sensational inscription that has made the auction rounds over the last few years. Another book, Lucile’s own signed copy of her autobiography, was given to the Francatelli family who later discarded it, with the result that it wound up in a bargain book store in London, where Titanic collector Kalman Tanito bought it. Two old albums Lucile had kept —— of designs from her 1904-05 collections —— were discovered in the 1950s by the late fashion authority Doris Langley-Moore. These were later sold via Sotheby’s to the V&A Museum, where they have been undergoing conservation.

Randy

PS) I’ll probably post here at some point in the future the contents, as exasperatingly incomplete as they are, of the Lucile-Elinor letter. It was too long to include in my manuscript. The Julia mention is brief but interesting, as I recall.
 
Mar 20, 2007
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Hi there

As Ben so rightly points out in his post above, I'm sure that, as one of the other, very few English couples travelling in first-class, the Duff Gordons were at least AWARE of the Cavendishes. And, needless to say, vice versa. Tyrell was very much 'top drawer' - and, as I type this, it occurs to me...I wonder where he went to school? Eton, maybe? Highly probable. If so, would he have been there at the same time as Sir Cosmo?

Then again: I've heard two conflicting versions of where Cosmo schooled. Most people agree that he was an Old Etonian, yet at least one source I've read states that he was at Radley...at least, I THINK it was Radley...

Randy, could you be so kind as to clear up this little confusion?

Best wishes to all

Martin
 
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sashka pozzetti

Guest
Are these the same sketchbooks that were sold by Christies? They are really beautiful. I saw one and it has all the delicate swatches of fabric pinned to the corners of the sketches. I can look Cosmo up in my Debretts, and Who's Who?. I don't think he went to Eton at all. I know it says, as I looked it up once but I don't really like Public schools so it didn't stay in my memory. They are something from the Edwardian era I do wish had vanished!!!!

I think Tyrell must have been a bit in awe of his more fancy relatives at Chatsworth, as they were definitely cream of the crop. I wonder if he went to the Duchess of Devonshire's famous balls? Their house is one of the finest in England.
 

Brian Ahern

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Dec 19, 2002
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One of the more prominent members of this board once mentioned that Cosmo was raised a Catholic - the religion of the Antrobus family, to which his mother belonged - until his mother decided to convert to C of E when he was a teenager. I've read that Catholics couldn't attend Eton until well into the twentieth century, but I don't know if this is true.

Also, Tyrell was 37 when he died, whereas I assume that Cosmo was at least approaching 50, as Lucy was.
 
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Nevertheless, even if they had been years apart but had attended Eton at the same time, they would most likely still have known of each other. Most public schools are comparatively small so names can become familiar, even if you don't know actual individuals well.

But...my theory was conjecture only. I have most certainly read that Cosmo was an Old Etonian but cannot remember where - still less, when Radley came into the picture! It would surprise me to find that Catholics were unable to attend as late as the mid to late nineteenth century but I'm happy to be proved wrong. Perhaps it was more a case of Catholic parents opting to send their boys to Catholic schools...where did Sebastian's brother go in 'Brideshead'? Stonyhurst? Safer in the hands of Jesuits!
 
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I've never come across any reference to Tyrell being present at the legendary Devonshire House Ball of 1897 and rather doubt that he was - then again, as above, I'm happy to be proved wrong!

There is still a connection though - Lucy (then at the beginning of her career) designed some costumes for guests to wear to the party. I think 'The IT Girls' (I haven't got my copy to hand) mentions Mrs Willie James by name. Lafayette, the great photographic studio of the day, had a tent pitched in the gardens of Devonshire House to capture the guests in all their splendour. Some of the pictures are accessible on-line and I know that at least two young women (posed together) are sporting powdered wigs and Lucile gowns. Presumably, there were others too. Worth in Paris was, I know, commissioned to design some of the most lavish ensembles.
 
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sashka pozzetti

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I can only see that this would work if Tyrell started at five, and knew 18yr old Cosmo just before he left. If he went to Eton, at all, which I don't think he did. !!!
 
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sashka pozzetti

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I was thinking of one of the other balls she held, I think they were more than one. Of course if I had to chose I would go to the Devonshire house ball. A costume would be difficult, trying to compete with a gas-lit wig, or a stuffed eagle perched on a shoulder!!! I found recently that some of the costumes still survive, even one of the butlers outfits and that there were albums made of all the costumes photographed by Lafayette.
 
Mar 20, 2007
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Yes, yes, you are QUITE right - when I first raised this matter I hadn't checked the ages of Sir Cosmo and Tyrell Cavendish so was speculating purely on the basis that they were both aged somewhere around forty in 1912.

I'll await Randy's input to settle the question of where Cosmo schooled.

The Double Duchess (Manchester, then Devonshire) was without doubt one of the two most important hostesses in London Society throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (the other being Teresa Londonderry). After he was disgraced, a group of his ex-friends were discussing Oscar Wilde and one said something about the position he had held in Society. At which point, somebody else drew up and said sharply:

'Oh, Wilde was never in Society. He didn't dine with the Devonshires'.
 
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sashka pozzetti

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I think he said it was Eton, so I would expect him to be right. Cosmo may have changed school, of course causing confusion. May be he didn't like the 'mess'.!!!
 
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sashka pozzetti

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I have now looked in the books, and it say's in Who's who, that Cosmo did go to Eton, his address in London was 5 Alfred place, and he was a member of the bath club. He died on 20 April 76 years ago on Friday. I looked in another book which said that his family mottoes were 'Fortuna Sequator' and 'Deo Juvant' but I have no idea what that means, probably soemething very noble, but useless in a crisis!!! I couldn't find any reference at all to Tyrell Cavendish, so i am afraid it seems like he was of the lesser ranks. He wasn't even in the Who Was Who for 1912. I don't think that is very fair, given what happened to him, but Lucile wasn't mentioned in the 30's book either, when her husband was. Now that is sexist!!!
 
Aug 29, 2000
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Deo Juvante is "With the Help of God". Fortuna Sequator is probably a corruption of Animum fortuna sequatur. - "The soul follows chance".
 
Mar 20, 2007
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Thank you.

In 1912, every single person in Great Britain with a hereditary title (at any rate, every 'head of family') was included in 'Who's Who' automatically, regardless of their accomplishments (or lack thereof). Tyrell Cavendish's absence or Sir Cosmo's inclusion should not be seen as evidence either way of how celebrated or well-known they were in their own lifetimes.

As for 'Who Was Who', remember, they prune the entries back over the years to make sure only the more familiar, well-known or generally sought-after figures get through...if they didn't, the book would be over a million pages long by now!

For Tyrell Cavendish, I'd suggest recourse to Debrett, Burke or Kelly's Handbook.
 
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sashka pozzetti

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I know where I can see some contemporary Debretts and Who's Who so will have a look. If Tyrell Cavendish was only distantly related to the proper Cavendish's I expect he will only be entered as part of someone elses entry. Chatsworth House has its own large historic archive of all sorts of things, so they might know something about him however distant a relative he is. I wrote to them a couple of times and they wrote lovely helpful letters back. I even got a handwritten one from the Duchess in a chic little envelope. apparently they are renowned for being so nice, helpful, and unpretentious.
 
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sashka pozzetti

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Goodness, a wonderful Latin translation service too!!! Those two particular motto's actually are relevant after all!!!
 
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Yes, they are very, very sweet. Most large country-house curators are although those at Chatsworth are known for being the best and most helpful. I imagine that is why the Dowager Duchess was able to make such a success out of Chatsworth Enterprises!

Tyrell Cavendish appears under 'Waterpark'.
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Sorry to be late on the uptake here; been having trouble lately with my home internet. Hope this goes through. If not, will post from work when I get a chance. As to Cosmoí¢â‚¬â„¢s education, he went to Eton but his great-nephew Andrew Duff Gordon said he also w ent to Radley "where he was a good oarsman and believe rowed in the college eight." This is from a letter of 2 Feb. 1990. Andrewí¢â‚¬â„¢s handwriting is not the easiest to read (I hope he will forgive my saying so!), so the last word looks like it might be "fig h t" (but I think ití¢â‚¬â„¢s "eight."). I caní¢â‚¬â„¢t put my hand to it just now, but I have a letter from Tony Halsbury (Lucyí¢â‚¬â„¢s grandson), confirming Cosmoí¢â‚¬â„¢s skill at rowing. He said Cosmo helped teach him to row on the Grand Canal at Versailles. This talent might s ee m ironic to Cosmoí¢â‚¬â„¢s detractors. To me it just shows how dangerous the situation was (or seemed) to those in the lifeboats. Cosmo was a superb athlete (at least for one his age) and would have been more than capable of helping others if it had seemed a safe undertaking. Thatí¢â‚¬â„¢s just my opinion but ití¢â‚¬â„¢s one based on an understanding of his personality after a long time spent researching. The man has been terribly misunderstood. A coward he was not.m
 
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Just to follow up a bit about the Devonshire House Ball of 1897. That was a milestone not just in "Society" but also in Lucileí¢â‚¬â„¢s career as it placed her creations in the public eye to a broader extent than she had achieved up till that time. That year was a momentous one for her í¢â‚¬“ it was 1897 that also saw her launched as a major designer for the London stage. Lucileí¢â‚¬â„¢s costumes for "The Liars," a controversial play of the day, were a hit for their sheerness, which astonished audiences and critics. The rep utation of the maker of those "naughty" chiffons was born!í‹” 
 
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sashka pozzetti

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I have always wondered how publicly known Lucile was before she was in the Titanic, because apart from some credits in theatre programmes (and who reads those!!!) I can't find any credits when Lucile designs clothes featured in popular magazines. It is interesting to discover that the Devonshire House ball was differnet. How did she promote herself to the public? Were they all lined up outside , when people arrived?

Also I am pretty sure that Cosmo rowed an eight and didn't have his fists out rowing in a college fight!!! I didn't know he was such a good oarsman, no wonder everyone turned on him when it became clear that they had not rowed back to survivors. It makes it sound like a triumph of an understanding of rowing , over heat of the moment heroism. This does not exactly fit with a society just about to send millions to die 'heroicly' in a dumb war. He must have been seen as a bit of a failure for not acting like a white knight on his steed.
 

Brian Ahern

Member
Dec 19, 2002
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I think I know what made me think that Catholics couldn't attend Eton. I can't remember who it was, but a writer once wrote that Andrew Parker Bowles had NOT attended the school on account of his Roman Catholicism. The writer probably meant that his family elected to send him to a Catholic school, rather than that he would have been barred, which is the meaning I took.

Having said that, I'm not even sure Sir Cosmo really was a Catholic, so it might be a moot point.
 

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