Her Ladyship, Alice, Countess Grey & Her Daughter’s 
Lady Sybil Grey & Lady Evelyn Alice Jones, née Grey 
Pose Onboard The Hapag Steamship,  S.S. Vaterland

Alice, Countess Grey, née Holford, wife of, Albert Henry George Grey, 4th Earl Grey, was the daughter of wealthy landowner, Robert Stayner Holford. Esq. of Westonbirt House and his wife, Mary Anne Lindsay.

With genealogical roots established both in “trade” and the “aristocracy,” money came from both sides of her family tree, her maternal great grandfather, Sir Coutts Trotter, 1st Baronet, had been a principal partner in Coutt's Bank.

The countess is pictured with her two youngest surviving daughters, Lady Sybil Grey, who eventually married Lambert William Middleton in 1922, and Lady Evelyn Alice Grey, already married since 1912 to, Sir Lawrence Evelyn Jones, 5th bart. 

This trio of aristocratic ladies is pictured aboard one of the magnificent Imperator class ocean liners of the Hapag Steamship Company, or Hamburg Amerikanische Packetfahrt Actien Gesellschaft (HAPAG for short), often referred to in English as Hamburg America Line, sometimes also Hamburg-Amerika Line.

Peering deeper into the picture, one finds many “connections” stemming from the principal sitter of this photograph, all excellent subject fodder for the practice of “portrait archaeology” to feed the esoteric mindset.


Alice Holford
ca. 1855 - 22.IX.1944
Countess Grey
Vicereine Of Canada

Alice Holford Was The Daughter Of:

Robert Stayner Holford
1808 – 22.II.1892

Robert Stayner Holford of Westonbirt, in the village of Weston Birt, co. Gloucestershire, MP for East Gloucestershire, was a wealthy landowner, gardening and landscaping enthusiast, and an art collector. With his vast wealth, he rebuilt Westonbirt House from the Georgian mansion erected only decades earlier by his father, and founded the Westonbirt Arboretum after succeeding his uncle and father between 1838 and 1839.

Holford served as MP for East Gloucestershire from 1854 when he was elected in a bye-election on December 19th upon the death of the member Sir Michael Hicks Beach, 8th Baronet (d. November 22, 1854), and continued in that office for eighteen years. He was re-elected in 1857 with Sir Christopher William Codrington and again in 1859 with Codrington (who died 1864 forcing another bye-election). He was re-elected in 1864 with the new member Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, 9th Bt. (son of the previous MP). In 1872, he vacated the seat.

Holford was the son of George Peter Holford (d. 1839), himself the second son of Peter Holford (d. 1804) who made an immense fortune by supplying London with fresh water through a canal. The Holfords had been seated at Westonbirt since 1666 when a Holford married the heiress Sarah Crew. Robert inherited Westonbirt in 1838/1839 from his uncle and namesake Robert Holford (d. 1839).

Holford was a prodigious and cultured Victorian businessman whose extraordinary history and accomplishments have largely been forgotten. Holford was passionate about architecture, and employed Louis Vuilliamy to design and build a fine Italianate palazzo in Park Lane, with the aim of setting a new standard of architecture in London.

He was a scholarly collector of Old Masters, rare books, manuscripts and was one of the most learned judges of talent in the country at a time when Art was growing into an important part of British cultural identity. RS Holford and his son, Sir George Holford (1860 – 1926) subscribed to international seed and plant collecting  expeditions and were the creators of the world-famous arboretum Westonbirt at  their Gloucestershire residence.

Although Dorchester House was demolished in 1929 to make way for the new hotel and the Holford’s Art and Library collections were sold in the 1920s, Westonbirt House  and the Arboretum remain a  testament  to the quality of the family’s achievements. Westonbirt House has been a boarding school since 1928 and is regrettably little known to the public.

Holford married Mary Anne Lindsay, a daughter of Lt. General Sir James Lindsay of Balcarres, himself grandson of James Lindsay, 5th Earl of Balcarres, by his second wife Anne Trotter, daughter of Sir Coutts Trotter, 1st Baronet.  Mary Anne's sister Margaret had married their second cousin Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford. Holford and his wife had the following issue:

(1) Sir George Lindsay Holford (d. 1926) who married Susannah West Menzies (1865–1943), daughter of Arthur Wilson (shipping) of Tranby Croft, widow of John Graham Menzies (1861–1911), mother of Major-General Sir Stewart Menzies.

(2) Margaret Holford (d. February 9, 1908) who married June 17, 1876, Albert Parker, 3rd Earl of Morley and had issue, three sons and one daughter. The two elder sons succeeded to the earldom as 4th and 5th Earls, and a third son was father of the 6th and present Earl of Morley. Unfortunately, these collateral successions necessitated death duties and also meant sale of the family estates, including Westonbirt House and eventually Saltram House. Edmund Robert Parker, 4th Earl of Morley (April, 19, 1877- October 10, 1951) who inherited Westonbirt from his maternal uncle and sold the house shortly thereafter. He died unmarried, and was succeeded by his next brother. Montagu Brownlow Parker, 5th Earl of Morley (October 13, 1878 - April 28, 1962), who succeeded his older brother in 1951 and also died unmarried, was succeeded by his nephew. Hon. John Holford Parker (June 22, 1886- February 27, 1955), married the Hon. Marjory Katherine Elizabeth Alexandra St Aubyn, daughter of the Baron St Levan. Their eldest son, John St Aubyn Parker (b. May 29, 1923), became the 6th Earl of Morley, and has one son.

(3). Alice Holford (d. September 22, 1944) who married on June 9, 1877 Albert Grey, 4th Earl Grey (1851–1917) and had issue, five children, one of whom died in early childhood.  Lady Victoria Mary Sybil Grey (June 9, 1878- February 3, 1907) married Arthur Morton Grenfell in 1901, and left issue,  5th Earl Grey (December 15, 1879- April 2, 1963), who had two daughters by his wife Lady Mabel Laura Georgiana Palmer. The elder daughter Mary (1907–2002) married the 1st Baron Howick of GlendaleLady Sybil Grey (July 15, 1882- June 4, O.B.E. married Lambert William Middleton (1877–1941) of Lowood House, Melrose, Scotland, nephew of Sir Arthur Middleton, 7th Baronet and Frederick Edmund Meredith. She was invested as an Officer, Order of the British Empire in 1918, having served as the Commandant of the Dorchester House Hospital for Officers. She was well known for her work with the Red Cross in Russia during WWI, and for her work with tuberculosis sufferers (founding the Lady Grey Society). She was an amateur photographer and film-maker of note, and recorded village life at Darnick and St. Boswells. After her husband died she sold Lowood House and moved to Burley, Hampshire. They were the parents of a son and a daughter.

(4).Evelyn Holford (1856–1943) who married the art collector, banker, and art patron Robert Henry Benson (1850–1929), and had issue. Their daughter Margaret Winifred Benson married 1915 Major General Sir Hereward Wake, 13th Bt. and had issue, including the present baronet. The eldest son Guy Holford Benson (1888–1975) married 1921 Lady Violet Elcho (1888–1971), widow of Lord Elcho, and 2nd daughter of the 8th Duke of Rutland, and had issue, three sons. Another son Constantine Evelyn Benson, a financier, married Lady Morvyth Lilian Ward, daughter of the 2nd Earl of Dudley, and had issue including Lady Tompkins (d. 2003).

Robert Stayner Holford died, February 22,1892.

Alice Holford Was The Wife Of:

Albert Henry George Grey
4th Earl Grey PC GCMG GCVO
28.XI.1851 – 29.VIII.1917

Grey was a British nobleman and politician who served as Governor General of Canada, the ninth since Canadian Confederation.

Grey was born the eldest son of a noble and political family in the United Kingdom and educated at Harrow School before moving on to the University of Cambridge. In 1878, he entered into politics as a member of the Liberal and, after relinquishing a tied vote to his opponent, eventually won a place in the British House of Commons in 1880. In 1894 he inherited the Earldom Grey from his uncle and thereafter took his place in the House of Lords, while simultaneously undertaking business ventures around the British Empire. He was in 1904 appointed as governor general by King Edward VII, on the recommendation of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Arthur Balfour, to replace the Earl of Minto as viceroy and occupied that post until succeeded by Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, in 1911. Grey travelled Canada extensively and was active in Canadian political affairs, including national unity, leaving behind him a number of legacies, the most prominent being the Grey Cup.

After ceasing to be the king's representative, Grey returned to the United Kingdom and continued to engage in imperial affairs before his death in 1917.

Grey was the son of General Sir Charles Grey, a younger son of former British prime minister the second Earl Grey and later the private secretary to Prince Albert and later still to Queen Victoria and his wife, Caroline Eliza Farquhar, daughter of Sir Thomas Harvie Farquhar, Bt. Many members of the family had enjoyed successful political careers based on reform, including to colonial policies; Grey's grandfather, while prime minister, championed the Reform Act 1832 and in 1846, Grey's uncle, the third Earl Grey, as Secretary of State for War and the Colonies during the first ministry of the Earl Russell, was the first to suggest that colonies should be self-sustaining and governed for the benefit of their inhabitants, instead of for the benefit of the United Kingdom.

Grey was educated at Harrow School and then Trinity College at the University of Cambridge, where he studied history and law. After graduating in 1873, Grey became private secretary to Sir Henry Bartle Frere and, as Frere was a member of the Council of India, Grey accompanied Prince Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, on his tour of India. In 1877, Grey married Alice Holford, daughter of Robert Stayner Holford, the Member of Parliament for East Gloucestershire. Together, they had five children, one of whom died in early childhood.

Grey stood for parliament at South Northumberland in 1878 and polled in the election the same number of votes as his opponent Edward Ridley, but Grey declined a scrutiny and was not returned. It was not until the general election of 1880 that Grey, the Liberal Party candidate, was elected as a Member of Parliament (MP) for South Northumberland, a seat he held until it was replaced under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 and he moved to be the MP for Tyneside, following the that year's election. Inspired by the theories of Giuseppe Mazzini, Grey became an advocate of imperialism and was one of the founders of the Imperial Federation League, which sought to transform the British Empire into an Imperial Federation. Grey thus split with Prime Minister William Gladstone in 1886 over Irish home rule and became a Liberal Unionist, but the shift was short-lived as Grey failed to win his riding again in the 1886 general election.

Eight years later, Grey succeeded his uncle as the Earl Grey and returned to parliament when taking his seat in the House of Lords. As a friend of Cecil Rhodes, Grey became one of the first four trustees responsible for the administration of the scholarship funds which established the Rhodes Scholarship and he was invited by Rhodes to be a member of the board of directors and director of the British South Africa Company, coming to serve as the main liaison between Rhodes and Secretary of State for the Colonies Joseph Chamberlain in the periods immediately before and after the Jameson Raid on the Transvaal. As the Administrator of Southern Rhodesia, Sir Leander Starr Jameson, was disgraced by the Jameson Raid, the British government, then headed by the Marquess of Salisbury, in 1896 asked Grey to serve as Jameson's immediate replacement, staying in that role until 1897. The following year, Grey was also appointed as Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland and published a brief biography of a young relative, Hubert Hervey, who was killed in the Second Matabele War.

Grey in the governor general's office at Rideau Hall, Ottawa

It was in 1904 announced that King Edward VII had, by commission under the royal sign-manual and signet, approved the recommendation of his British prime minister, Arthur Balfour, to appoint Grey as his representative, replacing Grey's brother-in-law, the Earl of Minto. Minto was married to Grey's sister, Mary Caroline Grey. The appointment came at a good time for Grey, as a series of failed investments in South Africa had left him penniless; a gift from his wife's aunt, Lady Wantage, widow of the Lord Wantage, was used to supplement his salary as governor general.

The time during which Grey occupied the viceregal office was one of increasing immigration, industrialization, and economic development in Canada. A sign of Canada's increasing independence from Britain, Grey was on 16 June 1905 designated as "Governor General of Canada and Commander-in-Chief of the Dominion of Canada," which followed on the passing of the Militia Act in 1904. At the request of Sir Robert Baden-Powell, Grey also undertook the role of Chief Scout of Canada. Further, it was with Grey's granting of Royal Assent to the appropriate Acts of Parliament that Alberta and Saskatchewan joined Canadian Confederation, also in 1905, the Governor General writing to the King at the time: "[each one] a new leaf in Your Majesty's Maple Crown," and he travelled extensively around the ever-growing country. He also journeyed abroad to Newfoundland, then not yet a part of Canada and several times to the United States to visit President Theodore Roosevelt, with whom Grey developed a strong bond.

Grey with Prince George, Prince of Wales, 
at the celebrations of the tercentenary of 
Quebec in Quebec City, 24 July 1908

Grey often exercised his right, as representative of a constitutional monarch, to advise, encourage, and warn. He desired social reform and cohesion, putting his support behind prison reforms in Canada to provide greater social justice. He also prompted his prime minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, to support the Imperial Federation he had long championed, but Laurier was uninterested. However, Grey's years of urging Laurier to get the Cabinet and parliament to agree to the idea of a Canadian navy proved themselves to be more fruitful. At the Governor General's urging, the Canadian and British governments agreed to have Canada assume control of the former British garrisons at HalifaxNova Scotia, and EsquimaltBritish Columbia, after which the Royal Canadian Navy was created by the Naval Service Act of 1910. The Act was so identified with Grey that, in Quebec, it was referred to as Grey's Bill and opposed by Henri Bourassa and his Ligue nationaliste canadienne. Another of Grey's suggestions was a railway hotel for the federal capital, which eventuated in the Chateau Laurier, completed in 1912.

Though Grey strongly promoted national unity among French and English Canadians, as well advocating unity within the entire British Empire, his causes frequently raised the ire of Bourassa and the Quebec nationalists. Grey was involved in the planning for the tercentenary of Quebec in 1908, marking the 300th anniversary of the landing of Samuel de Champlain at what later became Quebec City. At Grey's suggestion, the Cabinet agreed to Grey's plan to have the Plains of Abraham designated as a national park; this would be done to coincide with the Quebec celebrations and Grey saw the official ceremony as being an event that would promote Franco-Anglo-American friendship. The government arranged for the attendance of the Prince of Wales, later King George V, American and French warships, and a host of visiting dignitaries. Still, the Ligue saw this as solely a tribute to the Empire; Bourassa and other nationalists complained that Grey had transformed a day intended to celebrate Samuel de Champlain into a celebration of James Wolfe.

At other times, and unlike future viceroys, the Governor General's influence expanded more blatantly into government policy: Grey opposed the head tax imposed by the Chinese Immigration Act of 1885 on Chinese immigrants to Canada and, at one point, was invited to visit the province of British Columbia, but declined in protest of what he thought to be exclusionary measures implemented by the provincial cabinet under premier Richard McBride. Grey also initially supported Asian immigration to Canada, though, following the Japanese victory in the Russo-Japanese War, he became concerned about the so-called Yellow Peril and worked with the federal Cabinet to explore alternatives to the head tax as a restriction on Asian immigration. He was nevertheless appalled by the 1907 anti-Asian riots in Vancouver, organized by the Asiatic Exclusion League, and, later in the same year, arranged a visit to Canada by Prince Fushimi Sadanaru of the Empire of Japan.

Earl & Countess Grey On The Canadian One Dollar Bill

Throughout his tenure as governor general, Grey supported the arts and, when he departed Canada in 1911, he left behind him the Grey Competition for Music and Drama, first held in 1907. He was also a patron of sport, giving his support to Canadian football and establishing the Grey Cup, to be awarded to the winner of the Senior Amateur Football Championship of Canada. It is today presented to the champions of the Canadian Football League and, in 1963; Grey was elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame for his contributions to the game.

Grey donated to the Crown a horse-drawn carriage he purchased from the Governor-General of Australia, which is still today used as the state landau, and added a study and conservatory to Rideau Hall, the sovereign's and governor general's Ottawa residence; the latter was torn down in 1924.

Lord Grey and his wife received many accolades for their work with Canadians and for their championship of social reform. Lord Grey was a very active Governor General. Sir Wilfrid Laurier said Lord Grey gave "his whole heart, his whole soul, and his whole life to Canada."

Ancestral Seat, Howick Hall

On leaving office in 1911, Lord Grey and his family returned to England, where he became president of the Royal Colonial Institute (now the Royal Commonwealth Society) in London. Grey died at his family residence in 1917. His son Charles succeeded to the title.

Alice Holford Grew Up In:

Westonbirt House is a country house in GloucestershireEngland. It belonged to the Holford family from 1665 until 1926. The first house on the site was an Elizabethan manor house. The Holfords replaced it first with a Georgian house, and then Robert Stayner Holford, who inherited Westonbirt in 1839, replaced that house between 1863 and 1870 with the present mansion which was designed by Lewis Vulliamy. He also remodeled the gardens, diverted the main road and relocated the villagers. The house is constructed of high quality ashlar masonry on a grand scale. The exterior is in an Elizabethan style, with a symmetrical main block and asymmetric wings, one of them containing a conservatory. The interiors are in a sumptuous classical style. The house was fitted with the latest technology such as gas lighting, central heating, fireproof construction and iron roofs. It is now a Grade I listed building.

Extensive formal terrace gardens were created around the house and 25 acres (100,000 m2) of ornamental woodlands were planted in the 19th century. Since 1928, the house has been occupied by the girls' boarding school, Westonbirt School. Westonbirt House is open to the public twice a year, in October and in June. The gardens are open more frequently, but only on certain dates during the school holidays. The house is also licensed to hold civil ceremonies and is used as a wedding venue.

Robert was born in 1808 to George Peter Holford and Anne Holford who was the daughter of Reverend Averell Daniell of Lifford, County DonegalIreland. He was the only male born to this couple but he had three sisters. George Peter Holford was a lawyer and a Member of Parliament. He also wrote books which usually related to religion and Christianity. He inherited a mansion at Westonbirt from his father. This house was the original manor which had been erected in the reign of Elizabeth or the early part of the time of James I. This house was demolished by George in 1818 and a new house built in 1823.

In 1829 at the age of 21, Robert graduated from Oriel College at Oxford University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. In the same year the Arboretum on the Westonbirt Estate commenced and Robert played a significant role in this project. In 1838 he inherited his uncle's fortune of over one million pounds. In the following year his father died and he became the owner of Westonbirt House. He was a keen lover of art and literature and his enormous wealth now allowed him to indulge this interest. He began collecting paintings and books for what was to become the famous "Holdford Collection". To accommodate this collection he built Dorchester House in Park LaneLondon between 1851 and 1853 and employed Lewis Vulliamy as the architect.

During this time he became a Magistrate for Gloucester and Wilts and in 1843 was the High Sheriff for Wilts. In December 1854 he was first elected as the Member for Gloucestershire East. In August 1854 Robert at the age of 46 married Mary Anne Lindsay who was the 25 year old daughter of Lieutenant-General James Lindsay.

Over the next five years the Holfords had three daughters - Margaret, Evelyn and Alice. It was not until 1860 that George Holford was born who was to become heir to the family fortune.

Between 1863 and 1870 Robert built the present Westonbirt house. It was reputed to be one of the most expensive houses constructed in the Victorian era.

Robert continued his work as a Member of Parliament until 1872 when he retired. He continued to collect plants for the garden at Westonbirt House and also for the Arboretum. George also developed an interest in gardens and plants and assisted his father with this work.

After Robert's retirement, the couple spent time at both Westonbirt and Dorchester House. In 1875 Charles Gayard, a French diplomat visited Westonbirt and gave an account of his experience as follows.

"This morning I have lost no time. Sometimes Mrs. Holford, sometimes Evy, took me about the house, which surpasses in magnificence any that you know. There is a hall, a sort of conservatory three stories high, something like the great apartments of Louis XIV. The most original room in the house is the one painted by Mrs. Holford, in a bizarre fanciful style, something between Delacroix landscape and Rouen pottery."

"After luncheon my friends took me on a pony chaise, across the beauties of the park to the keeper's lodge. I saw conservatories without end, then a lake, a bit of a wild, heaps of rocks that it seems have been newly brought there. And the lake too is a thing of yesterday. The pheasants were so thick we fairly trod on them. At last we reached the Head-keepers’ lodge, and saw a pack of thirty spaniels with legs short enough to make the rabbits dance for joy."

The garden at Westonbirt House and the Arboretum continued to expand and in 1886 an extensive article was written about it in a notable publication called "The Garden". It said that "Mr. Holford's aim has been to create variety without confusion, informality and picturesqueness without losing sight of that polish in the vicinity of the mansion which must always be regarded as in accordance with correct taste."

On February 22, 1892 Robert died at Dorchester House in Mayfair.

Sir George Holford
Susannah, Lady Holford

George was the only son of Robert and Mary Holford. In 1873 he went to Eton and was there for four years. At the age of 20 in 1880 George obtained a commission with the 1st Life Guards where he remained for almost 30 years. During this time he was closely associated with royalty and court life. From 1888 to 1892 he was Equerry to Prince Albert, Duke of Clarence.

From 1892 George was Equerry to Prince Edward. Soon after the Boer War began in 1899, George decided to temporarily relinquish his post of Equerry and rejoin his regiment the 1st Life Guards who were at the front in South Africa. George's departure is mentioned in a publication of the time and he is praised for his decision. It said "it certainly speaks much for the patriotic spirit which is so rife in the country at the present time, when men like Captain Holford volunteer for active service." The "New York Times" also made similar comments saying "Among the latest distinguished men going to South Africa is Captain Holford who is one of the closest friends of the Prince of Wales and his equerry. The Captain sails January 6 to join his regiment, the First Life Guards."

When King Edward died in 1910, Holford was Equerry-in-Waiting to Queen Alexandra and was Extra Equerry to King George. The photograph of the Royal Party of Edward and Alexandra shows George (far left) in uniform.

When Robert Holford died in 1892 George inherited Westonbirt House and Arboretum. He also inherited Dorchester House in London and the art and book collection that were housed within it. He did not have his father's interest in art and books but he did have a passion for gardens and orchids so he devoted much of his time to his property at Westonbirt. The Times made the following comment about him.

"He was indeed, one of the most successful amateur gardeners of the time, and though famous as a grower of orchids, amaryllis and Javanese rhododendrons, his garden and estate show a wide catholicity of taste. The arrangement of the many rare and exotic trees there and the skilful use of evergreen species as background and to provide the shelter so needful in a cold district like the Cotswolds, have rarely been equaled; there is no crowding of the trees; each is able to show its true form and all have been well cared for. On few estates has the autumnal coloring of deciduous tress been so cleverly used by harmony and contrast, as, for instance, in the planting of Norway maples and glaucous Atlantic cedars."

"Country Life" magazine wrote extensive articles about Westonbirt Gardens and Arboretum in 1905 and again in 1907 when George was the owner of the estate. They outlined in detail the beauty of the gardens and made the comment.

"Captain Holford has carried on the work in the same spirit and with the same tradition (as his father) and Westonbirt is now more luxuriant and more beautiful than the late Mr. Holford ever knew it. The gardens have been planted not to give an effect for one season only but to be invested with beauty at every time of the year."

Although he was always considered an eligible bachelor George did not marry until late in life and had no children. In 1912 he married the recently widowed Susannah Menzies. Susannah was the eldest child of Arthur and Mary Wilson. The Wilsons were an extremely wealthy family who had made their money from a shipping line. Susannah's grandfather Thomas foundered the Wilson Shipping Line in about 1840.

Her childhood appears to have been carefree and filled with the activities of wealthy British families. She was taught to ride and hunt at an early age as her father was very involved in this sport and became later the Master of the Holderness Hunt. She was also involved in amateur dramatic productions.

Susannah married John Graham Menzies (Jack) in 1887 and they had three sons. Unfortunately their marriage did not appear to be a success. By 1903 Jack had made some disastrous financial investments principally in a diamond mine in South Africa. He also gambled heavily at cards and on the racetrack and was said to be an alcoholic. In 1906 Susannah left him and returned to Tranby Croft. It seems that in reality the marriage was over although there was no divorce or formal separation. In 1911 Jack Menzies died of tuberculosis.

In 1912 a year after Susannah was widowed she married George in the Chapel Royal, St James. She was 48 and he 52 years old. George V, Queen Mary, Queen Alexandra and Princess Victoria were present. Although they had no children, it seems that George regarded her three adult sons with affection. They frequently stayed at Westonbirt and Stewart Menzies was allowed to use Dorchester House as his London residence. He also left them some money in his will.

In 1926 George Holford died having suffered for some time with emphysema. As he did not have any heirs his property passed to his blood relatives in accordance with the will of his father Robert Stayner Holford. The main part of the estate went to George's nephew the 4th Earl of Morley. However Susannah was well provided for as George left her his personal goods such as jewellery and furniture and also an annuity of 10,000 pounds sterling per annum which was a very large sum of money at that time.

Susannah remained at Westonbirt until it was sold in 1927. She then moved to London and lived in a very palatial townhouse in Upper Brook Street in Mayfair until 1940. After that she moved to a large house called Dassett near Woking which still exists today. In 1943 she died at Dassett at the age of 80 and was buried at Brookwood Cemetery. A Memorial service was held for her at St Marks Church, North Audley StreetLondon on 30 December 1943 and another a few days later at Westonbirt Church.

Westonbirt House in the late 19th century
Westonbirt House in 2009

Robert Stayner Holford, the rebuilder of Westonbirt, also founded the Westonbirt Arboretum on former common down land across the road from the house, a mile away. The arboretum was developed over the next few decades by him and his son Sir George Lindsay Holford. Since the younger Holford did not have children, the house and arboretum passed to his eldest sister's son the 4th Earl of Morley, who sold the house by 1928. The family gave the arboretum to the nation in 1956. It is now one of the most important arboreta in the United Kingdom. It is in state ownership and is open to the public on a regular basis.

Alice Also Lived Here As A Young Girl:

Dorchester House was a stately mansion in Park LaneLondon built in 1853 by Robert Stayner Holford. It was demolished in 1929 to make way for the present Dorchester Hotel.

Lewis Vulliamy who was a notable architect of that time was instructed to build a house in which a central staircase was a major feature. The main purpose of the building was to house the extensive collection of paintings that Holford had acquired over many years and at that time were temporarily lodged in a friend's residence in Russell Square.

A description of the house was provided by a publication of that time:

"(the staircase) occupies the centre of the house and is lighted from above, and from the gallery round it open that remarkable range of apartments - the Saloon, the Green Drawing Room, the Red Drawing Room, and the State Drawing Room - in which the ceilings and other decorations are from the hands of Italian artists and the beautiful chimney-pieces are by Alfred Stevens, and probably represent the finest work that great artist ever achieved. In these rooms hang some of the notable pictures of the great masters, Titian and Tintoretto, Velasquet and Vandyck and Murillo, Rembrandt and Claude and Cuypt and Ruysdael."

The grand central staircase of Dorchester House

Dorchester House was one of the more palatial buildings in London at the turn of the twentieth century and was frequently mentioned in publications of the time. The staircase was a notable feature that received much praise. Guy Cadogan Rothery in his book Staircases and Garden Steps said.

"The staircase itself is of marble and the steps having broad treads, moderate nosings and very low risers. A flight runs parallel to one side of the gallery to the angle of the wall where there is a landing, and then another flight parallel to the other side to the first floor, with an intermediate landing supported on small open arches. The balustrade is of marble with a broad flat handrail and dwarf pillars with swelling bases"

Illustration from "The Magazine of Art" 1883 
showing details of the central staircase of Dorchester House

The Magazine of Art described it in the following terms:

"This staircase is one of the most beautiful and interesting portions of house, I shall describe more minutely below. It is noticeable now, as giving a key to the external appearance of the whole. Round three sides of it on the east, south and west the principal rooms are grouped; and the simplicity of the arrangement has enabled the architect to obtain an external effect of considerable grace and dignity."

The dining room in Dorchester House with the chimneypiece 
by Alfred Stevens on the left side of the room

One of the most celebrated inclusions in Dorchester House was the chimneypiece in the dining room sculptured by Alfred Stevens (see picture at right). It was regarded as one of his finest works. The Magazine of Art in 1883 contained the following comment.

"Here Stevens sought after a massive breadth of effect. There is something of grandeur and repose in the two figures which reminds you in some degree of the work of Michelangelo. It is of no use stopping to inquire whether such a use of the human figure is legitimate. In this particular case the answer comes at once - that it has succeeded"

Rothery made similar laudatory expressions:

"In his Dorchester House chimneypiece he has two figures, who are in a crouching position on each side. They belong to the design yet are doing very little absolute work. Possibly here the wonderful sense of harmony is gained by the splendid modeling of practically nude forms, with their evidence of vigor and great dormant strength. In this way too he has managed to utilize the undraped figure without any incongruity for so conspicuous a position in a room for general assembly."

Even though Stevens was credited with the work, he did not complete it before his death in 1875. The picture below, taken by the Magazine "British Architect" shortly after Stevens' death, shows the incomplete chimneypiece. The Victoria and Albert Museum now have the chimneypiece and according to them it was finished later by Steven's former pupil, James Gamble.

Left Caryatid in the chimneypiece by Alfred Stevens 1908
Right Caryatid in the chimneypiece by Alfred Stevens 1908
The unfinished chimneypiece of Alfred Stevens
Photo taken shortly after his death in 1875
The chimneypiece by Alfred Stevens 
now in the Gamble Room of the 
Victoria and Albert MuseumLondon

Other Rooms In Dorchester House

The Library in Dorchester House circa 1905

The library was an important room of the house and was specially designed to house Holford's large book collection (see picture right). Morris describes it in the following terms.

"The library emerged as a magnificent and functional reflection of the superb quality of the books....The walls were covered in green silk damask and the floor with a buff and green Axminster carpet. The glass-enclosed bookcases were of carved and gilded walnut made by Holland and Sons, each center compartment being 13.6 feet high and 8 feet wide."

Three other rooms in the house were designed to accommodate Holford's famous art collection. The Grand Saloon was frequently mentioned in period publications. It was described by one as "a well-proportioned room. The walls covered with red damask and devoted to pictures. The ceiling a good piece of work of its kind was designed by Mr. G. E Fox and executed by Mr. Alfred Morgan." The other two rooms. known as the green and red drawing rooms, were described by the same author as follows.

"The green and red drawing-rooms follow in succession from the saloon. The ceilings of both were painted by Signor Anglinatti while the frieze of the latter is a bright bit of work by Sir Coutts Lindsay... The furniture of these drawing-rooms is well worth notice. Every piece is good of its kind and is thoroughly adapted to the style of its surroundings and its individual place."

The grand saloon of Dorchester House
The green drawing room of Dorchester House 
The red drawing room of Dorchester
House showing the frieze by
Sir Coutts Lindsay

After Robert Holford died in 1892 and his son, Sir George Holford, inherited Dorchester House. George did not often occupy the house so in 1905 he rented it to Whitelaw Reid, the American Ambassador. Reid held lavish functions as part of his duties, many of which were mentioned in the newspapers. Of particular note were the Fourth of July celebrations. The New York Times gave the following details of this function held by the Reids at Dorchester House in 1907.

Whitelaw Reid and Mrs. Reid in the Washington Times in 1910

"So many Americans attended Ambassador Reid's Fourth of July reception this afternoon that traffic in several squares about Dorchester House was blocked for two hours. Mr. Reid and the ladies of the embassy received the guests. Although admittance was by invitation and only Americans with a few exceptions, were asked to call the crush was as great as at a White House reception.

A long buffet tent was erected on the north terrace, access to which was obtained by the removal of some windows and the erection of temporary staircases carpeted with crimson cloth. Nearly 4,000 invitations were issued."

In the same year Reid hosted a function for Mark Twain. The Chancellor of Oxford University wished to confer an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters upon Twain and asked Reid to convey this invitation. Twain accepted and a few days before the Oxford ceremony a dinner was held at Dorchester House for him. Reid invited about forty authors and artists to meet Twain one of whom was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Jean Reid, daughter of Ambassador Whitelaw Reid in 1908

In 1908 the Reids' daughter Jean was married and the reception was held at Dorchester House. The wedding received a great deal of publicity because King Edward and Queen Alexandra attended. One newspaper commented.

"King Edward was profuse in his congratulations to the bride and the bridegroom and their families. With Queen Alexandra, the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Duke of Connaught. His majesty remained at Dorchester House for some time mingling freely with the guests of the American Ambassador."

Another newspaper said.

"The marriage of Miss Jean Reid, daughter of Whitelaw Reid, American Ambassador to Great Britain, to the Hon. John Hubert Ward took place at the Church Chapel Royal, St. James Palace, this afternoon. Not since the Prince of Wales was married has a wedding ceremony taken place in circumstances of such pomp and majesty. After the wedding a reception was held at Dorchester House, to which all fashionable London and many Americans who could not be accommodated at the chapel were invited."

In 1910 after the death of King Edward VII, President Theodore Roosevelt came to England to attend the funeral. He stayed at Dorchester house for three weeks. The New York Times outlines the numerous visits from dignitaries from other countries that came to Dorchester house to see Roosevelt during this time.

"The Roosevelts had just returned to Dorchester House when they received a return call from King Haakon who greeted the Special Ambassador and his wife as old friends. While luncheon was being served the Duke of Connaught and Prince Arthur of Connaught called...The diplomatic representatives of all the powers called at Dorchester House in the course of the day and left cards for Mr. Roosevelt."

In 1912 Whitelaw Reid died and Dorchester House was no longer used as the American Embassy.

During World War I many of the stately homes of England became Auxiliary Home Hospitals Dorchester House was also offered as a hospital by George Holford. The New York Times in 1914 contained a story about the House as a hospital.

"Lieutenant Colonel Sir George Holford, the owner of the house has given it up to wounded officers eighteen of whom are billeted in bedrooms overlooking Hyde Park. Downstairs on the first floor the famous ballroom is being turned into a sitting room for convalescents, and other splendid apartments in which dinners and receptions were held are now filled with beds, screens and big medicine tables and will become dormitories...The famous Velasquez and other masterpieces at Dorchester House have been taken down to a cellar, but the Alfred Stevens decorations are still in place"

In 1926 Sir George Holford died and his property was put on the market. After several years an acceptable offer was made and Dorchester House was sold. The Times wrote an article on the sale.

"Lord Morley has sold Dorchester House, Park Lane. A contract was signed yesterday afternoon for the purchase of the property by Gordon Hotels, Limited. Associated in the transaction of purchase being Sir Robert McAlpine and Sons, Limited. The famous mansion will be demolished and the Gordon Hotels Limited intend to proceed at once with the erection of an hotel."

The Dorchester House

Dorchester House was demolished in 1929 and the Dorchester Hotel opened in 1931.

As Stated Above She Sailed On:

The SS Vaterland, was a sumptuous ocean liner which regularly sailed the North Atlantic briefly in 1914 and from 1917 to 1934 as the S.S. Leviathan. 

The second of a trio of transatlantic liners built by Germany's Hamburg America Line for the transatlantic passenger service, she would sail as Vaterland for less than a year before her early career was halted by the start of World War I. In 1917, she was seized by the U.S. government and renamed Leviathan. She would become known by this name for the majority of her career, both as a troopship during World War I and later as the flagship of the United States Lines.

The huge Vaterland in her original HAPAG livery

SS Vaterland, a 54,282 gross ton passenger liner, was built by Blohm & Voss at HamburgGermany, as the second of a trio of very large ships of Imperator class for the Hamburg-America Line's trans-Atlantic route. She was launched April 13, 1913 and was the largest passenger ship in the world upon her completion, superseding S.S. Imperator, but later being superseded in turn by the last ship of this class, S.S. Bismarck, the later RMS Majestic.

Vaterland had made only a few trips when, in late July 1914, she arrived at New YorkNY just as World War I broke out. With a safe return to Germany rendered virtually impossible by British dominance of the seas, she was laid up at her HobokenNJ, terminal and remained immobile for nearly three years.

The USS Leviathan in a dazzle camouflage pattern

She was seized by the United States Shipping Board when the United States entered World War I, April 6, 1917; turned over to the custody of the U.S. Navy in June 1917; and commissioned July 1917 as the USS Vaterland, Captain Joseph Wallace Oman in command. Redesignated SP-1326 and renamed Leviathan by President Woodrow Wilson on 6 September 1917. The trial cruise to Cuba on November 17, 1917, prompted Captain Oman to order 241 Marines, onboard to relieve a detachment of Marines, to station themselves conspicuously about the upper decks giving the appearance from shore that the great ship was headed overseas to increase American Expeditionary Forces. Upon her return later that month, she reported for duty with the Cruiser and Transport Force. In December she took troops to LiverpoolEngland, but repairs delayed her return to the U.S. until mid-February 1918. A second trip to Liverpool in March was followed by more repairs. At that time she was repainted with the British-type "dazzle" camouflage scheme that she carried for the rest of the war. With the completion of that work, Leviathan began regular passages between the U.S. and BrestFrance, delivering up to 14,000 persons on each trip, carrying over 119,000 fighting men, before the armistice November 11, 1918. After that date Leviathan, repainted grey overall by December 1918, reversed the flow of men as she transported the veterans back to the United States with nine westward crossings ending 8 September 8, 1919. On October 29, 1919, USS Leviathan was decommissioned and turned over to the U.S. Shipping Board and again laid up at Hoboken until plans for her future employment could be determined.

S.S. Leviathan

In April 1922 the decision was made about the role of the ship and the Leviathan steamed to Newport NewsVirginia, where she was completely renovated to suit American tastes and post-World War I standards. Her reconditioning completed in June 1923, the Board turned her over to the United States Lines to operate on their behalf as the U.S. Flag ocean liner Leviathan.

As S.S. Leviathan, she was the "queen" of the United States' merchant fleet, and operated in the trans-Atlantic trade into the early 1930s. Dubbed "Levi Nathan", the ship was reasonably popular, but because of her American registry she had to sail as a "dry ship" under Prohibition and many American travelers preferred European liners which were permitted to serve alcohol once they were in international waters. Despite this handicap, Leviathan in 1927 was the #1 ship on the Atlantic in terms of average passengers carried per crossing. The Great Depression hit passenger shipping hard and Leviathan, like other big liners of the time, began to lose money. She was laid up in 1933 and, with the exception of several months of additional service in 1934, was inactive until December 10, 1937, when she was sold to a British firm and made her final Atlantic crossing to RosythScotland shortly thereafter, where she was broken up over the next two years.


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