Monday, 25 August 2008

Love & letters

In today's Times, there are extracts from a new book by the Duchess of Devonshidebo devonshirere. That's Debo, the current dowager, NOT Georgiana, the one they have recently made the film about. [The film stars the ubiquitous Keira Knightley and is based on a biography by Amanda Foreman]

I guess with all the fuss about her forebear, this one thought the market was ripe for another book.

<<here's Debo

georgiana devonshire

here's Georgiana >>

The first one, who also lived at Chatsworth, died 200 years ago, and lived an interesting life! She was born a Spencer, so there are inevitable comparisons to be made with Princess Diana. I did read the book when it first came out, but suspect the film will have turned the accurate historical perspective into a box-office bodice-ripper!

Deborah, on the other hand, was the youngest of the six Mitford sisters. Nancy became a writer, Jessica married Churchill's nephew, Unity was a girlfriend of Hitler, Diana married Oswald Mosely, Pamela was a close friend of John Betjeman - and Debo supported her husband [nephew of Harold Macmillan] in his political work, especially with the SDP. She also helped him turn Chatsworth into one of Britain's most successful stately homes. [It's worth a visit and they were especially accommodating when we turned up on the bike 3 years ago. we got to park right next to the house, not up in the Car Park!]

Anyhow, this book is a collection of correspondence between the Duchess and her friend Patrick Leigh Fermor. The extracts are intriguing, and leave me with a few questions -

  1. What kind of person keeps all her letters?
  2. Did she keep just his replies, or a copy of the letters she sent him? [And if these are handwritten - does she use carbon paper?]
  3. Why is her nickname for the Queen Mother "Cake"? [Bob thinks it is short for 'Fishcake' due to her habit of choking on salmon bones!]
  4. She refers to the 'much licked pews' of the Parish Church her family attended when she was a child. The footnote says "as children, the sisters used to lick the pews" WHY?? What reason would you have for licking a pew? [Bob said did the one who was best at it get a Pew-Licks-er Prize?]

I don't think I shall make my fortune with any great correspondence. I did keep my love-letters from old boyfriends [we never had email or text-messaging in the seventies] and when we split up, I would tie them in bundles with satin ribbon and fling them onto the top of a very high cupboard in my bedroom. [The letters, not the boyfriends!]

On 24th August 1979, I got a stepladder, climbed up, fetched them all down, and made a huge bonfire in the garden. It was extremely satisfying!

On 25th August 1979, I married Bob, and today is our 29th Wedding Anniversary.

Thankyou, sweetheart, for all these happy years together - it is a real privilege to be able share my life with such a loving man of God, and to serve Him together.DSCF0142


  1. Happy Anniversary! May you be blessed with many happy years to come! :)


  2. You have received a award. Please come to my blog to get it. :)


Always glad to hear from you - thanks for stopping by!
I am blocking anonymous comments now, due to excessive spam!