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Edith Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Marchioness of Londonderry facts for kids

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The Most Honourable

The Marchioness of Londonderry

Portrait of Edith Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Marchioness of Londonderry.jpg
Lady Edith Vane-Tempest-Stewart by Philip de László, 1927
Personal details
Edith Helen Chaplin

(1878-12-03)3 December 1878
Blankney, Lincolnshire, England
Died 23 April 1959(1959-04-23) (aged 80)
Mount Stewart, County Down, Northern Ireland
Nationality British
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.

Family and personal life

Circe and the Sirens,' A Group Portrait of the Honourable Edith Chaplin (1878–1959), Marchioness of Londonderry, and Her Three Youngest Daughters
Circe and the Sirens: A Group Portrait of the Honourable Edith Chaplin, Marchioness of Londonderry, and Her Three Youngest Daughters, Charles Edmund Brock.

Born as Edith Helen Chaplin in Blankney, Lincolnshire, she was the daughter of Henry Chaplin, 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.

On 28 November 1899, she married Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, who later inherited his father's title in 1915, whereupon Edith became Marchioness of Londonderry. They had five children:

  • Lady Maureen Helen Vane-Tempest-Stewart (6 December 1900 – 20 June 1942); married Oliver Stanley.
  • Edward Charles Stewart Robert Vane-Tempest-Stewart (18 November 1902 – 17 October 1955) known as Robin; became the 8th Marquess of Londonderry. Married Romaine Combe in 1931; had issue.
  • Lady Margaret Frances Anne Vane-Tempest-Stewart (9 March 1910 – 19 October 1966); married firstly Alan Muntz, and secondly Hugh Falkus.
  • Lady Helen Maglona Vane-Tempest-Stewart (8 July 1911 – 11 March 1986); married firstly Edward Jessel, 2nd Baron Jessel, and secondly Dennis Whittington Walsh.
  • Lady Mairi Elizabeth Vane-Tempest-Stewart (25 March 1921 – 16 November 2009); married Viscount Bury.

On the death of the 7th Marquess, in 1949, Lady Londonderry became Dowager Marchioness of Londonderry. One of Lady Londonderry's grandchildren, Annabel Goldsmith, is also a noted London socialite.

The Marchioness died of cancer on 23 April 1959, aged 80.

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.

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.

Lady Londonderry's friendship with Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, although platonic, was a source of gossip in her time and has since become an iconic friendship of English social history.


Mount Stewart
Characteristically luxuriant planting contained within formally clipped edging

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.

A number of gifts received by Lady Londonderry from Queen Mary, Sir Philip Sassoon and others were auctioned at Sotheby's in 2012.

Lady Londonderry wrote and/or edited several books, among which are Henry Chaplin: A Memoir (1926), The Magic Ink-Pot (1928), Retrospect (1938) and Frances Anne: The Life and Times of Frances Anne, Marchioness of Londonderry, and Her Husband, Charles, Third Marquess of Londonderry (1958).

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