A Victim of His Times
Born into the aristocracy, Beauchamp was driven by a sense of noblesse oblige and devoted his life to public service. Though some of this was ceremonial, Beauchamp was keen to involve himself in practical politics, where he showed his independence of mind. He joined the Liberals as they pushed through change against obstruction from his own landowning class. He championed Irish Home Rule. In 1914 he opposed entry into the war and lost any chance of promotion. However, he remained deeply loyal to his party even after its split and decline, and worked tirelessly in its cause.
His life touched on great events such as the formation of Australia and, in Britain, the great reforms of 1906–9, the 1911 Parliament Act, the crisis of 1914, the creation of the Irish Free State, the Liberal collapse, the first Labour government and the economic slump. Through all these, he busied himself in party affairs, but one aspect of his private life worked against him and, in a Sophoclean twist, he fell from grace.
This book documents the Earl’s involvement in politics, explores his personality and looks carefully at the issues that brought him down. In the light of this analysis, it is hoped that historians will recognize his significant contribution to the events of his day.
Chapter 5: A Most Charming Hostess: Lady Mary Lygon
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A Most Charming Hostess: Lady Mary Lygon
Earl Beauchamp’s life in Sydney was quite intense. He must have been glad to have at his side his elder sister, Lady Mary, who had agreed to accompany him to Australia as his hostess. She was indeed a remarkable woman.
Lady Mary’s background
Lady Mary was the eldest child of the 6th Earl Beauchamp and his first wife Lady Mary Stanhope. From childhood Mary and her younger brother, William were emotionally attached to each other. Mary had grown up with a deep religious faith and acquired a keen passion for music. Still in her teens, she organized a boys’ choir at the village church, and helped produce Christmas plays with musical interludes which she herself composed. Later she organized the annual Madresfield Music Competitions. In this capacity she got to know a young Malvern musician who already showed uncommon talent – Edward Elgar. Elgar was also instrumental in founding the Malvern Musical Festival. He was often the guest of the Lygon family at Madresfield, and Lady Mary tried never to miss the first performances of Elgar’s works. In November 1897, when a new society, the Worcestershire Philharmonic, was established with Elgar as conductor, the administrative committee, headed by the Earl of Dudley and Lord Hampton, included Lady Mary Lygon.1 Together with another young ← 103 | 104 → woman, Winifred Norbury, Mary Lygon exerted her efforts to keep the young composer ‘in order’...
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