Saturday, June 1, 2024

The wedding of Viscount Althorp and the Hon. Frances Roche.

  Embed from Getty Images 


 On this day - June 1, 1954 --Edward John Spencer, Viscount Althorp, only son of the 7th Earl Spencer and Lady Cynthia Hamilton married Hon Frances Roche, daughter of the 4th Baron Fermoy and Ruth Gill at Westminster Abbey.  The bride was only 18 when she married.

Embed from Getty Images 

 The bride and groom had close ties to the British court.  The new Viscountess Althorp was born at Park House, Sandringham on the day King George V died.  Her father, Lord Fermoy, was a close friend of George VI, and her mother, Ruth, Lady Fermoy (styled after the death of Lord Fermoy), was one of the Queen Mother's best friends.  She also served as Woman of the Bedchamber.

Lord Althorp's godparents included Queen Mary and the Prince of Wales (Edward VIII). He served as an equerry to George VI and Elizabeth II.   The Countess Spencer served 35 years as one of Queen Elizabeth's (Consort of George VI) ladies-in-waiting.

Embed from Getty Images 

 The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh attended the wedding at Westminister with the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, the Duchess of Gloucester, the Duchess of Kent with the Duke of Kent and Princess Alexandra of Kent, and the Earl of Athlone.

Miss Roche was given away by her father.  She wore a "gown of camellia-coloured faille embroidered on the tight-fitting bodice and full skirt with hand-cut diamonds, sequins and rhinestones, and a tulle veil which formed a short train and was held in place by a diamond tiara."    She carried a "bouquet of lilies-of-the-valley, white roses, and stephanotis."

Frances' tiara is known as the Fermoy tiara, and

Embed from Getty Images 

 The bride had three pages, David Wake-Walker (the groom's nephew), Viscount Raynham, and James Dawnay, all of whom wore "white satin suits buttoned down the front and stiff muslin collars and pale blue moiré sashes, after a painting by Reynolds.   

She also had three child bridesmaids: Elizabeth Wake-Walker (niece of the bridegroom), Lady Margot Cholmondelely, Bridget Astor, and three adult bridesmaids, the Hon. Mary Roche (the bride's sister), Miss Sylvia Fogg-Elliot, Miss Fiona Douglas-Home and Miss Rowena Combe. 

The adult bridesmaids wore "long dresses of white spotted Swiss muslin with a fichu neckline and full skirts and pale blue moiré sashes."  Their headdresses and bouquets were of "lilies-of-the valley, white roses, and stephanotis."

Captain John Dawes, The Royal Scots Greys, was Lord Althorp's best man.

Embed from Getty Images 

 Members of the Royal Scots Greys regiment formed a guard of honor when the newly married Lord and Lady Althorp left Westminster Abbey.

The wedding reception was held at St. James's Palace.

Lady Margot Cholmondeley is the older sister of David, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley.  She married Tony Huston, the son of director John Huston, and brother of Angelica Huston.

The Hon. Bridget Astor was the daughter of the 4th Baron Astor of Hever.  Her first husband was Count Arthur Tarnowski. 

Sylvia Fogg-Elliot was Lady Althorp's maternal first cousin.  In 1959, she married Richard Allen.

Rowena Combe married in 1963 to Jocelyn Feilding, an art dealer.   Lady Althorp's daughter, Jane was one of the child bridesmaids.  Her mother was Lady Silvia Coke, daughter of the 4th Earl of Leicester.  This marriage ended in divorce in 1983. Rowena and Lady Anne Coke (the widow of Lord Glenconner) were first cousins. Lord Althorp was previously engaged to Lady Anne. His father forced his son to end the engagement because of “mad blood” in Lady Anne’s family. Her paternal grandmother was Marion  Trefusis whose family had s genetic defect where sons died young and daughters were born with mental disabilities. Marion’s first cousin Charles, 21st Baron Clinton had two daughters, Fenella and Harriet who passed the gene to their children.  Fenella, married to the Hon John Bowes-Lyon, brother of Queen Elizabeth, was the mother of two mentally disabled .daughters. Harriet, the wife of Henry Fane, had three mentally disabled daughters.  It was the five girls’s grandfather, Lord Clinton who paid for their institutionalization.

Viscount Raynham (Charles) succeeded his father as the 8th Marquess of Townshend in 2010.

(Charles) James Payan Dawnay is the son of Captain Oliver Dawnay and Lady Margaret Boyle, daughter of the 8th Earl of Glasgow. In 1978, James married Sarah Stogdon.  Captain Dawney was the Queen Mother's Private Secretary and Equerry to Queen Elizabeth (Queen Mother) from 1952 until 1956.   He was an Extra Equerry from 1956 until 1962.    

[James Dawnay's brother, Ivo, is married to Rachel Johnson, younger sister of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson).

Elizabeth and David Wake-Walker were the children of Lord Althorp's sister, Lady Anne Spencer who married Christopher Baldwin Hughes Wake-Walker in February 1944.  Christopher was the son of Admiral Sir Frederic Wake-Walker.    Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret attended the wedding at Westminster Abbey and the reception at Admiralty House.   In 1960, David Wake-Walker was named a Page of Honour to Queen Elizabeth II

Lord and Lady Althorp had four children,  Sarah,  Jane, Diana and Charles.  Their marriage ended in divorce in 1969.  Lord Althorp succeeded his father in 1975 as the 8th Earl Spencer.  

His youngest daughter, Lady Diana Spencer was the first wife of the future King Charles III. They are the parents of the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Sussex.

I expect my mom, thirteen days away from giving birth to me, read about the wedding of Lord and Lady Althorp's wedding in the New York Times.  She was interested in the British and other European royal families and wanted to watch the Coronation on her honeymoon -- confirmed by Dad.  Now you know why I am the way I am ....


Anonymous said...

Very interesting…thank you…you are very much like your mother! V

Andrea said...

Poor children of Fenella.

Interesting article.

Greetings to Harper and Fleur.


Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

and her sister Harriet who had three daughters who were mentally disabled.