I never met Winston Churchill or Princess Margaret. My brother marched behind Churchill’s coffin when he was a young officer in the Irish Guards and Uncle George (aka Sir George Bellew) helped arrange the elaborate funeral. Continue reading I Never Met …
Rosherville Gardens was a seventeen acre site on the Thames not far from Gravesend in Kent. It opened in 1837 to provide a day out for Londoners. At first it consisted of pleasure gardens adorned with statues, follies and more than 8,000 specimen trees. Visitors came by paddle-steamer and new attractions were added including bands, jugglers, sword swallowers, an archery lawn, gipsy fortune tellers, a maze and a large Italianate hotel, the Rosherville Hotel. At first it was patronised by middle class workers but with the advent of railways it served a more diverse clientele. In 1857 20,000 visitors came in one week. The Prince of Wales and his friends, apparently, spent days at the gardens incognito.
In Jeeves Takes Charge, Bertie’s Uncle Willoughby pens his Recollections of a Long Life to the horror of Florence Craye. She tells Bertie that there is “a story about Sir Stanley Gervase-Gervase at Rosherville Gardens, which is ghastly in its perfection of detail. It seems that Sir Stanley – but I can’t tell you!”
What can Wodehouse have been thinking of? As Norman Murphy was fond of reminding us, Wodehouse never invented something if he didn’t have to. The London Gazette dated 1st February 1884 may provide the answer.
The Bankruptcy Act, 1869.
In the County Court of Kent, holden at Rochester. In the Matter of a Special Resolution for Liquidation by Arrangement of the affairs of Edward Joseph, Baron Bellew, of Barmeath, county Louth, in the peerage of Ireland, Baron of that part of the United Kingdom, and of Rosherville Hotel, Gravesend, in the county of Kent, trading as Edward Joseph Bellew, Hotel Proprietor.
The creditors of the above-named Edward Joseph, Baron Bellew, who have not already proved their debts, are required, on or before the 8th day of February, 1884, to send their names and addresses and the particulars of their debts or claims, to me, the undersigned, Thomas Lyte Willis, of No. 17 Fenchurch-street, in the city of London, Wine Merchant, the trustee under the liquidation, or in default thereof they will be excluded from the benefit of the Dividend proposed to be declared
Dated this 1st day of February, 1884.
T. L. WILLIS, Trustee.
My great, great grandfather, Edward Joseph, was born in Ireland in 1830. His father was a Member of Parliament and owned extensive lands in Co Louth. His mother, Anna Fermina Mendoza was an Anglo-Spanish heiress. In 1853 Edward married Augusta Bryan, another heiress, whose family owned land in Co Kilkenny and was said to be the richest Commoners in Ireland. He was High Sheriff of Co Louth, a Major in the Louth Militia and for one season was Master of the Louth Foxhounds. He succeeded his father as the 2nd Lord Bellew in 1866.
How can he possibly have ended up owning a hotel in Gravesend and going bankrupt owing money to a wine merchant? It is a sad tale. He left his wife and went to England with his mistress. ( History repeated itself in the 20th century.) The family was successful in disinheriting him and cutting off his access to Bellew and Bryan funds. After his bankruptcy he went to live on the Continent and died in Bad Mannheim in Germany in 1895, aged 65.
Until now my family has been as reticent as Florence Craye about this fall from grace of this especially black sheep in the Bellew flock.
(This post was first published in Wooster Sauce, the organ of the PG Wodehouse Society.)
“When you don’t have any money, the problem is food. When you have money, it’s sex. When you have both it’s health.”
That’s from The Ginger Man by JP Donleavy. He served in the US navy in WWII and jumped ship to go to Trinity College Dublin in 1946. Like Evelyn Waugh he didn’t get a Degree and became a successful novelist . Continue reading The Ginger Man
Experiments in psychology are thought-provoking. The University of South California did one using popcorn. They gave cinema audiences free popcorn and monitored how much they ate. Then they gave a similar group free popcorn but with the proviso that they had to eat with their non-dominant hand. Continue reading Popcorn
I’m not one for school reunions. At least ten years ago there was a drinks party in London for all the boys in “my” year at Eton. It was excruciating as the few I recognised I wasn’t especially keen on and otherwise it was a sea of strange faces. I ended up talking to the then Head Master, Tony Little, who was in the same year as me. I think he felt sorry for me. Continue reading School Dinners
More than fifty years ago my brother stole this from, well you can guess where. He was in the habit of taking a room at the Intercontinental Hotel in the afternoons to catch up on some sleep after the revelry at Hunt Balls in Horse Show week. Continue reading A Hanging Offence
I hadn’t been to the Public Record Office in Kew since 1999 and dug out my Reader’s Ticket to make a return visit. Luckily I checked to see if anything had changed. Continue reading A Special Bond
I have re-read my grandfather’s obituary, published in The Irish Times. Continue reading Bryan Bertram Bellew
When I was forty, two of my first cousins gave a party at my favourite Chinese restaurant, Mr Kong in Lisle Street. It closed at the end of 2015 so don’t go looking for it. When I was fifty I gave a small dinner party at my club. When I was sixty … Continue reading The Have Yachts