Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Cunards at Nevill Holt

The Medbourne Village website has a good page about the Cunards and their tenure of Nevill Holt,

Edward Cunard purchased the Nevill Holt estate in 1876. The following year it was inherited by his brother Sir Bache Cunard:
By 1886 Sir Bache found himself in constrained financial circumstances which caused him to mortgage the Estate to some clients of Peake and Company, Solicitors in London. By 1893 however the mortgagees wished to foreclose on the mortgage and Particulars of Sale were prepared. However, his marriage in 1895 to Maud Burke enabled the Estate to be maintained.
Maud Burke was yet another of those American heiresses who married into the British aristocracy in this era. And many of them, like Maud Burke, rescued the finances of the family they joined.

But it was not to last:
In 1911, after leaving her husband in Leicestershire, Maud moved to London with Nancy and became a leading light in London society becoming known as a lavish hostess. Later in 1911 the Cunards separated and Maud fell in love with Sir Thomas Beecham the conductor, becoming recognised as his companion. ... 
In the 1930’s she formed a friendship with Wallis Simpson the fellow American who had a liaison with Edward Prince of Wales. Thinking that Wallis would become Queen, Maud hoped to secure a position in the Royal Household but her dream was dashed when Edward abdicated in 1936.
His wife’s departure from Nevill Holt left Sir Bache in financial difficulties again and the mortgage was foreclosed in 1912. After the original purchaser of the estate died, it was auctioned again at the Assembly Rooms in Market Harborough on 19 August 1919.

The house itself and surrounding land were purchased by the Reverend C.A.C. Bowkler for use as a preparatory school. That horribly abusive establishment closed after a police raid in 1998.

Given that most scholars now accept that Nevill Holt is the model for Bonkers Hall, one has to wonder if the first Lady Bonkers was also American,

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