Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Londonderry House Ball



Londonderry House


THE NEXT NIGHT, a starlit night, was also a gay one in Park Lane when Lady Mairi Bury had a coming-out dance for her petite, blonde daughter, the Hon Elizabeth Keppel.

Lady Mairi, in tangerine paper-taffeta and fabulous tiara and necklace of square-cut diamonds and emeralds, stood at the top of the imposing staircase of Londonderry House - her childhood home - to receive her guests.

It was a wonderful setting for a ball, though Lady Mairi told me that she thought Elizabeth might well be the last of the Londonderry family to have a coming-out there.

In the gold-and-white ballroom the gay colours of dresses glowed softly under the chandeliers.

The young men, the Earl of Portarlington, Mr Alexander Cadogan, Mr William Lindsay-Hogg, Mr Paul Channon MP, and the Hon John Jolliffe, found that they had only to walk a few yards from the dance-floor to sit out in rooms hung with fine old paintings.

As Elizabeth is the eldest of her branch of the family, there were many relatives present:-

Her father, Viscount Bury; the Earl & Countess of Albemarle, her cousin the Hon Camilla Jessel, the Dowager Viscountess Chaplin and the Hon Walter & Mrs Keppel.

For the older generation it was an evening of memories - memories of some of the greatest pre-war parties when Prime Ministers and future Prime Ministers argued long after dinner.

The hostess on these occasions was Lady Mairi's mother, the late Dowager Marchioness of Londonderry.

  • Hon Elizabeth Anson 
  • Elizabeth Blakiston-Houston 
  • Hon Sarah Boyle 
  • The Lady Elizabeth Charteris 
  • The Lady Rose Chetwynd-Talbot 
  • The Lady Carey Coke 
  • The Lady Diana Douglas-Home 
  • The Lady Anne, The Lady Mary & The Lady Sarah Fitzalan-Howard 
  • Belinda Guinness
    The Hon Lucinda Lambton
  • The Duke & Duchess of Abercorn 
  • The Viscount & Viscountess Allendale 
  • Lord Annaly 
  • The Earl & Countess of Antrim 
  • Mr Mark & Lady Annabel Birley 
  • The Lady Perdita Blackwood 
  • Viscount Bury 
  • Marquess of Clydesdale 
  • The Earl of Dudley MC 
  • The Marchioness of Dufferin & Ava 
  • The Lord & Lady Glentoran 
  • Colonel & the Hon Mrs Grosvenor 
  • Lt-Cdr & Hon Mrs O King 
  • Raffaele, Duchess of Leinster 
  • Mr & Mrs John Profumo 
  • The Duke & Duchess of Sutherland 
  • The Lord Talbot de Malahide 
  • The Lord & Lady Wakehurst 
  • The Hon Helen Ward 
  • The Dean of Windsor & Mrs Hamilton 
  • Viscount Anson 
  • Paul Channon MP 
  • Viscount Chelsea 
  • The Marquess of Dufferin & Ava 
  • The Lord Dunleath 
  • Viscount Dunluce 
  • The Earl of Gowrie 
  • Marquess of Hamilton 
  • Lord Anthony Hamilton 
  • Viscount Jocelyn 
  • The Lord O'Neill 
  • Andrew & Gavin Perceval-Maxwell 
  • Lord Sudeley 
  • The Viscount Sudeley 
  • The Earl of Suffolk

 Londonderry arms courtesy of European Heraldry. First published in December, 2011.


Mark Brown said...

In the 1760s, Londonderry House, on the corner of Park Lane and Hertford Street, was bought by the Sixth Earl of Holdernesse. He purchased the adjacent property and converted the buildings into one mansion, which was known for a period as Holdernesse House. In 1819, Londonderry House was bought by The Rt. Hon. The 1st Baron Stewart, a British aristocrat, and later, during World War I, the house was used as a military hospital. After the war, Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, and his wife, Edith Helen Chaplin, continued to use the house and entertained there extensively. After World War II, the house remained in the possession of the Londonderry family, until it was sold to make way for the 29-storey London Hilton, which opened on Park Lane in 1963.

Londonderry House was sold and turned into a Hotel.
Copied from the Caterer Magazine 1993:
THE Londonderry Hotel on London’s Park Lane has been sold to Kuo International, the holding company of BS Ong, owner of the nearby Halkin Hotel.

The 140-bedroom Londonderry, adjacent to the London Hilton on Park Lane, is the hotel nobody wanted to keep, having had eight owners since it was built in 1967. It was closed in early 1992 by Brent Walker, which had leased it from Hambros Bank since November 1989 when the bank bought the property from Forte.

After sorting out a number of property lease difficulties, Hambro Leasing put the property on the market a year ago with Weatherall Green & Smith with a guide price of £33m. One source suggested the purchase price was £26m.

Mathew Yeomans, senior surveyor at Weatherall Green & Smith, told Caterer that the buyer, Mr Ong, was unwilling to disclose any sale details. But he added: “It is safe to say that Hambros was relatively happy with the sale price.”

Mr Ong is just one of many Far Eastern investors to have entered the London hotel property market recently.

His fellow Singaporean Kwek Beng Leng’s CDL Hotels International, for example, is looking for further suitable properties, having bought London’s Gloucester and Chelsea hotels in the past year.

David Rugg, chairman of Christie & Co, said a combination of rights issues on the Singapore stock market, changes to legislation allowing Singaporeans to invest abroad and the depressed London market had fuelled the interest in acquisitions.

At the Londonderry, the ground floor public rooms, first floor restaurant and kitchen have all been renovated to a shell form – they have been rewired, plumbed and plastered but have no fittings.

The 140 bedrooms, on the other hand, have been left untouched since the hotel closed more than a year ago. The beds still have linen on them and the building’s basic services have been kept running.

The Londonderry age was over by the late 1950s. Retrenchment saw Londonderry House sold in 1962 and demolished, to make way for the London Hilton. The "Londonderry Silver" was mostly bought by the Brighton council for the Royal Pavilion where it can be seen today, along with the Ormonde silver.

Anonymous said...

Londonderry House was sold by the Londonderry family Trustees (of the 7th Marquess's Will Trust) in 1962 to a developer who built the "Londonderry Hotel" on the site, NOT the Hilton. The Hilton Hotel is on the other side of the street, and had already been opened. The Londonderry family received a sale consideration of £500,000 in 1962 money. This sounds little for such a prestigious location, when considering London residential property values in 2018, but it should be remembered that the Londonderry family had been trying, unsuccessfully, to sell the property for many years prior to 1962. The rates bill for the property was around £44,000 per annum in 1962 money and, following the departure of the Royal Aero Club, which had occupied most of the property since the Second World War, the full amount of this impost was about to fall at the door of the Londonderry family once again, on a financially crippling recurring basis. This was also at least a decade before the rise in the oil price created the type of Middle Eastern potentate private buyer, such as the Emir of Qatar, whose family eventually bought Dudley House further up Park Lane, retaining that aristocratic palace as a private residence. The tragedy of the sale of Londonderry House was not the comparatively meagre price (by current standards) it fetched for the Londonderry family, but the fact that it was completely demolished. The bland exterior concealed magnificently painted, and frescoed-celinged interiors by James "Athenian" Stuart who had, coincidentally, built the Temple of the Winds at the Londonderry's Ulster seat of Mount Stewart. The magnificent state rooms where 7th Marquess and Marchioness had, in the inter-war years, hosted their annual Eve of the Opening of Parliament reception for 2000 guests, succumbed to the wrecker's ball. Fortunately, many of the fireplaces survived after being ripped out and sold separately by a salvage company,. The two final social events hosted by the Londonderry family in the House were the wedding reception of Hon Elizabeth Keppel, following her marriage to her cousin Alastair Villiers in June 1962, and a final "farewell" party given by Alastair, 9th Marquess, which his friends Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney attended. The following day all of the furniture was removed and either sold by the family Trustees (eg the Canova sculptures from the hall were sold to the V&A) or sent over to Mount Stewart, being the personal property of 9th Marquess's aunt, Lady Mairi Bury. George Stubbs's masterpiece, the life size painting of the racehorse Hambletonian after his famous win at Newmarket, was one of the items which belonged to Lady Mairi Bury and it was taken down from the library in Londonderry House and rehung on the staircase at Mount Stewart, where it is to be seen today.

Timothy Belmont said...

Anon, thank you very much indeed for the information, which provides a greater picture of the family's former London home. Tim.