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Stanley, Mary Katharine (1848–1929), wife of the 4th Baron Sheffield
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Letter from Venetia Stanley to [Edwin Montagu]

[London Hospital, Whitechapel?].—Is unable to see him this afternoon, as her mother is in London. Defends herself against the criticisms in his letter [B1/89]. She has only three more weeks left [at the hospital]. Yesterday she went for a drive with Bongie; she supposes Montagu was with Edward Grey.

(Dated Monday.)

(Dated Monday.)

Letter from Venetia Stanley to [Edwin Montagu]

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.—Geoffrey is very happy [at his engagement to Christian Methuen]. Reflects on how she and Montagu felt towards each other three years ago at Penrhôs, and on the difficulties of detaching herself from the Prime Minister. Is depressed that most of their friends and relations would by annoyed if they were to marry. Arranges to meet, and asks after his mother.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to [Edwin Montagu]

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.—His communications have been arriving at odd intervals. She will see him in London tomorrow, and has fixed to go to Boulogne on Monday week [10th]. Suggests they come up together from Winston’s next Sunday and have a last talk. Has said nothing to her mother yet. Is miserable today, in spite of Birrell.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to [Edwin Montagu]

[The British Hospital, Wimereux.]—(15th.) Is still convalescing. Anthony is coming to see her tomorrow. Her mother has written to say that she has spoken to Montagu and thinks they should settle their affairs quickly. Refers to the religious fervour of a letter Montagu once received from his sister, and wonders if she will meet any of his family when she returns to England.—(16th.) There is general delight at the news of renewed fighting and expected work, but it may prevent Anthony’s visit.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to [Edwin Montagu]

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.—Has told her father of their intention to marry on the 26th, and urges Montagu to procure the licence soon. Her father has put her fortune into settlement. Her mother will come up on Tuesday and stay the following week. Arranges to meet him for lunch and then go together to Folkestone. Commends her father’s behaviour.

(Dated Sunday.)

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Hotel Sonnenbichl, Garmisch.—Invites him to Alderley. There is a dearth of news, but she and her companions are having fun.

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Transcript

Hotel, Pension & Bad ‘Sonnenbichl’, Garmisch
Sonnenbichl, den
5 August 1911 {1}

My dear Mr Montagu

Will you come and stay at Alderley on September 1st over Sunday {2}? You will still be in London then wont you and not already gone to Iceland or some such place to look for birds. No news at all arrives at this place except 3 days old Times and very inferior local German papers, and as it took us, owing to misfortune after misfortune, 3 solid days travelling to reach here, I feel very much severed from the real world. But I gather from the German papers that you’ve not yet had the Parliament Bill, nor are we at War with Germany.

Its very delicious here, hot and hilly and woody, with lots of bathing possibilities. Our party consists of my Mother, Blanche Mrs Winston Churchill and me and we have quite fun. We get back on about the 20th.

Yrs
Venetia Stanley

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{1} ‘5 August’ and ‘11’ are handwritten.

{2} 3rd.

Letter from Venetia Montagu to [Edwin Montagu]

Penrhôs, Holyhead.—Discusses her birthday presents. They went for a picnic yesterday. Montagu is doing well, she thinks, despite what the newspapers say. They could not go prawning today, but bathed instead, and are about to go to Mill Island. Asks about his plans for Saturday and his news.

Letter from Venetia Montagu to Edwin Montagu

Pixton Park, Dulverton.—(8 Dec.) Her party [see A1/179] left London last night, after rushing from a matinee in which Diana was appearing. They slept at Taunton, and arrived at Dulverton to find Mary and Goonie there. The men have gone shooting.—(9 Dec.) They are all feeling ill, and have spent the time working and being read to. Duff and Michael have gone.

[24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.] —(10 Dec.) Diana has the measles, as has Letty. Has been shopping for Christmas presents. Conrad, who called, is ‘utterly gloomy about the war’. Even the fall of Jerusalem is, she admits, little consolation, but she hopes Scatters will send a ‘souvenir’ from there. She dined with Hazel and John Lavery and Ivor Wimborne and they went to the cinema. The Roy made ‘ “hand” advances’ to Hazel in the motor there and back. Hazel claims that when she repulsed him on a similar occasion in Ireland he said, ‘Why do you come and stay here if you mean to do nothing?’, but it is doubtful whether this is true.—(11 Dec.) She went to a ‘ghastly’ lunch at Mrs Lionel Guest’s: ‘all Americans and consequently a noise that entirely bitched one’s powers of hearing or speaking’. She was planning to have only twelve to dinner tonight, but Patrick has asked her to have the ‘coons’ in as it is his last night, so an extra party will be coming.—(12 Dec., 3 a.m.) The evening was a nightmare. There was no piano for the ‘coons’, and everyone crowded into a little room, which became even more congested when others arrived. Eventually two bridge fours were arranged and the rest went to Goonie’s for stunts and dancing.—(Later.) Diana is very poorly. Has just dined at Mrs Keppel’s.—(13 Dec.) Has received his telegram. She dined at the Islingtons’.—(14 Dec.) This afternoon’s party for Indian officers at the Islingtons was a failure, as they chose unsuitable films for them. She dined with K and Frances, who were both off to Hackney after a night shift, then went to a party at Cardie’s flat. After stunts and dancing, they played chemin-de-fer. Duff lost £1600 and, to add to his miseries, has a poisoned finger.—(15 Dec.) Diana is rather better, but her Grace [the Duchess of Rutland] is pretty bad. This afternoon she went to a concert at the Albert Hall to commemorate the First Seven Divisions. After dinner at Ivor W.’s, she came home to find Nancy, Sydney, and Olga with Hugo disguised as a woman, and they spent a couple of hours dressing him in her own clothes.—(16 Dec.) She didn’t go the hospital, as the Duchess was worried she might be carrying measles. They spent the afternoon dressing Hugo up again, and took him to see Diana and Duff. In the evening she saw her mother and others.—(17 Dec.) Has received his letter. Insists that his mission is a success. Diana is much better. Has received a letter from Alan.—(Later.) Constance Rich[ardson], Eric, and Hugo lunched with her. Progress on his curtains is slow. Has received a note from Scatters.—(18 Dec.) Has bought most of the Christmas presents he asked for. When he returns they will have a long party at Breccles.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.—Thanks him for helping them get to Alderley. Has been ill in bed for several days. Advises him of her expected movements, and invites him to Penrhôs.

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Transcript

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire
Saturday Sept 16th 1911

My dear Mr Montagu

I owe you two Collinses really for twice having turned an odious journey into a possible one by clipping off a large piece at one end. I really believe I should never have got here on Tuesday {1} if it hadnt been for you, as it was we managed along all right with the aid of numerous meals and two games of chess and arrived here in pouring rain and a thick fog to find rather a dim little party gathered together, Humphrey Paul {2} joined it yesterday. As a matter of fact I’ve no need to complain as I went to bed on Wednesday, the tennis cure which I followed at Archerfield, having only proved very fleetingly successful, and remained there all yesterday and have only just got up in time for lunch. I’ve had further chance of testing the truth of my theory that I dont mind being ill. Its certainly better to be at home under these conditions, as I feel extraordinarily unvital and limp. I go back to Archerfield on Tuesday for a bit, then here again, then Penrhos.

I dont know when Mother asked you to come, I dont suppose any particular time as our plans werent fixed, but now they are. To go to Penrhos on the 10th {3} for a fortnight, and any time during that period which you want to come will fit in equally well.

I hope you are having fun in Inverness.

Yrs
Venetia Stanley

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Written in pencil.

{1} 12th.

{2} Perhaps a slip, or a nickname, for Herbert Paul.

{3} Of October.

Letter from Venetia Montagu to Edwin Montagu

In the train to Breccles.—Has received his letters up to 10 February. Is sorry he is depressed. She has heard that he is now not expected back till early May. Discusses the progress of work at Breccles. Has been to Bath with Bluey and her mother and bought some furniture. As Sidney Herbert is on leave they have had parties most eve-nings. Michael goes back to France in a week, but doesn’t seem fit to go. She dined last night at Lady Paget’s. She is thinking of spending a day at the Wharf for a day af-ter Easter, after going to Pixton. Sylvia is ill and has to have a large operation; Card-ie’s operation is on Saturday.

[24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.]—(Later.) Has spent the day inspecting the progress of work at Breccles. She gave a dinner-party tonight and they read Montagu’s ‘Indian’s poem’. Is dining with friends tomorrow. They are coping with the rationing and there have been few air-raids recently. She has recently lunched with Lord D[erby] and dined with Victoria Primrose, whom she hadn’t seen since Neil was killed. Has bought some books for Breccles, but no clothes at all since he left. Reminds him to get her some Toute la Forêt [perfume] in Paris.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.—Discusses arrangements for Montagu's visit to Penrhôs. Has been in bed with jaundice.

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Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire
Sept 26th 1911

My dear Mr Montagu

Oct 20th suits excellently for Penrhos, Mother tells me she has written to ask you what day you are coming already, but I’ve told her you are coming on the day you suggest.

I am getting very bored by being ill, and require as much sympathy, and as many condolences as any one you can think of. I’ve been in bed solidly ever since I last wrote to you, about 10 days which is very long. Specially as I {1} havent been really ill at all, only ridiculous and hideous with jaundice. It’s such an absurd disease, no one feels the slightest anxiety lest a turn for the worse should land one in the grave. At last I am nearly well tho’ and many perhaps (unlikely) go to Archerfield next week. It has been a bore missing all this week there.

Nothing happens here, the house is almost deserted. By the way Penrhos will contain literally only Arthur, his wife Mother Father and me. I just warn you. I am counting the days till we go there. How I hope it will be fine and very windy.

Yrs
Venetia Stanley

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Written in pencil.

{1} There is a superfluous apostrophe here.

Letter from Edwin Montagu to Venetia Stanley

Archerfield House, Dirleton.—Is disappointed that he just missed her and wishes she were there, though it is a good party. Is concerned by the dangers that women’s suffrage presents for the Prime Minister. Discusses his planned movements.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.—Is delighted by his election success. Violet has been ill, but is now better, and is about to go with Venetia and Lady Sheffield to the South of France.

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18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.
Tuesday 1 Feb 1910

My dear Mr Montagu

It was nice of you to write and say you liked getting my telegram, I was extremely delighted that you got in {1}. I had been thinking of writing to you before as you had asked me to, but there seemed to be so little to say about everything. You will know that Violet has been really very ill, the natural outcome of all that time of stress, she is better now and she and I and my mother go away tomorrow to the S. of France for a bit {2}, which I think should do her good.

But everything will be very hard for her, and in a way get worse when an even fuller realization of it all comes to her. The terrible waste and seeming pointlessness of the whole thing will make her life very difficult, and one doesnt quite see what is to come of it. But I suppose its very soon yet to begin to expect to see any change in her.

I dont know how long we shall be away.

Yrs
Venetia Stanley

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{1} Montagu had retained his seat at the general election.

{2} The party went, by a circuitous route, to Valescure, near Saint-Raphaël. Violet returned to England about the beginning of March. See Lantern Slides, pp. 198–201.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Penrhôs, Holyhead.—Invites him to Alderley next Sunday, and praises Asquith’s speech on Home Rule.

(Dated Saturday.)

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Transcript

Penrhôs, Holyhead
Saturday

My dear Mr Montagu

If you are doing nothing next Sunday will you come to Alderley. I have suddenly, after 4 days loneliness here, been seized with a burning desire for society and the thought of another empty Sunday at the end of next week doesnt commend itself to me. You will, if you come, I warn you, find no one but Mother, Blanche[,] me and possibly Arthur. But do come if you are free. We go there Wednesday. I should rather stay here where it is really still too heavenly. Are you happy about Home Rule? I thought his speech {1} quite wonderful and would have given the world to have heard it.

I hope Ewelme is fun.

Yrs
Venetia Stanley

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Written in pencil. Marked in a later hand, or hands, ‘Jan ’13’ (struck through), ‘Home Rule’, ‘HHA’s speech’, the first two inscriptions in blue biro, the third in pencil.

{1} Asquith’s speech in the Commons the previous day, introducing the Home Rule Bill.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.—Is sorry to have thrown him over. Suggests some other people he might invite. Will come and see him if her mother does not return.

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Transcript

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.

Why not ask Violet, or Mikky, or Bongie or Barbara McLaren or Conrad or Viola. I am so sorry if you were counting on me to have thrown you so completely and tardily over.

V

If you can get none of these brilliant suggestions and if Mother does not come back I shall of course love to come, but I feel I am an uncertain prop on which to lean. You can telephone about one o’clock if you want me and if you want me and if I can come of course I will.

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Written in pencil. This letter must have been written after Barbara McLaren’s marriage, which took place on 20 July 1911. The reference to Lady Sheffield’s absence suggests that it may have been written on the same day as MONT II A1/75.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.—Has received his letter of the 18th [B1/59]. Discusses his reading. Her pantomime was a success. After their guests left they had a dull week, but more came on Friday, including the Prime, who is well but bored by the prospect of the coming session. Everyone is anxious about the ‘female amendments’ to the Franchise Bill. Next week she is going to Switzerland with Oliver for a fortnight, after which she will be at Alderley and then London till Easter. She and her mother are thinking of going to Holland then, so the search for the black-necked grebe [at Penrhôs] will have to be postponed till Whitsuntide.

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Transcript

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire
Jan 7th 1913 Thursday

Thank you for your letter of the 18th {1}. I am glad you have at last had direct news of Violet, specially as I know she followed up her first short letter by a long one. I am also glad the books we suggested have been a success. I cant read what you say about Rhoda Broughton, but I gather it is depreciatory. I never suggested her as a first class writer, but she was I thought suited to a weak mental condition, the outcome of long arduous and hot days. I hope you will keep some to read, not R. Broughton, but some of the others for your return, as that is your moment of greatest need, specially as Peel has become such a bore.

Bluey tells me that whenever he goes into the India Office he sees letters from me to you lying about, but I suppose you get them eventually. I can imagine no worse fate than having on your return to read sheafs of month old letters intended for India.

I think I wrote to you last just at Xmas. I expect it was somewhat incoherent as I wrote very late at night after very busy days. I saw nothing of our delicious Xmas party as I was fearfully occupied with the Pantomime. It was a great success, I long to send you the fulsome and glowing account which appeared in the rather sycophantic local press. We were deserted on Monday {2} by everyone and left to the dullest flattest week I have spent for some months. My own resources failed me entirely and I could do nothing but wander amongst “the bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang”. However Friday {3} brought a fresh influx, Bluey, Geoffrey, Eddie, Sir John Simon, Bongie and the Prime. It was his maiden visit here and tho’ it rained as it only can rain here we had great fun. He and I went for a very dank chilly misty drive over the hills to Buxton {4} and put me through a sharp examination in Scripture. As you know it is not my subject and a few questions revealed the horrid fact that I couldnt name more than 2 of the 12 Apostles! This was a good deal used. I played a lot of chess with him and a certain amount of bridge, at both of which I was fairly successful. He seemed very well I thought, tho’ rather bored by the prospect of the coming Session. Geoffrey seems to think, I dont know how much he knows about it, that they wont even get the short holiday in February which was promised. Everyone seems rather anxious as to the result of the female amendments to the Franchise Bill. I wish I was going to be in London for I think it will be a most thrilling division, neither side seems to know at all what the numbers will be but at agree it will be very close. Bluey is most unhappy about it, but the P.M. takes the whole thing very calmly, even the possibility of having to promote a Bill which includes what he himself described as a disasterous† measure. I suppose he has some plan.

They all left us Monday and we settled down once again into our old life. Margaret Stanley and I were reduced to such a state that we have started re-reading the Inferno aloud. Its just the book for me, dwelling as it does entirely on the dead and on the horrible tortures that overtake them. We both of us translate the horrors with great gusto!

Next week I am going abroad to Switzerland with Oliver for a fortnight, then back here again till the middle of February and then London till Easter. Mother & I are thinking of going to Holland then, so we must postpone the search for the black necked | throated | crested {5} grebe till Whitsuntide, which is very early. Will it be too late for the bird?

I must stop now as we are going to read.

Yrs
Venetia

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{1} MONT II B1/59.

{2} 30 December.

{3} 3 January.

{4} Asquith wrote to Venetia on the 7th: ‘I shall always remember our mist- & rain-blurred survey of the three counties, thro’ wh. we drove on Saturday.’ (H. H. Asquith: Letters to Venetia Stanley, No. 6.)

{5} These three words are written one above the other and braced together.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Grand Hôtel Splendide, Portofino Mare.—His concern that Geoffrey is offended with him [see B1/16] is unfounded. After a strenuous time at Chamonix she is now at Portofino with her mother and three female relations; Bongie may join her and her mother later in a tour of Italian cities. Is eager to know what Montagu thought of the abandonment of the Franchise Bill. The Prime Minister thought the Speaker wrong in his ruling but didn’t seem very upset. Asks whether Montagu will get Lady Horner to furnish his house.

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Transcript

Grand Hôtel Splendide, Portofino Mare
Feb 5th 1913

The pens in this hôtel are of such beastliness that I am reduced to this. I got a letter from you yesterday {1} which you seem to have written in a state of some depression. I think tho’ with all due deference to your mind, you must be mad if you think that anything besides invincible distaste for writing and also that you’ve never written to him should induce Geoffrey not to write. If anyone has a grievance I should say it were he, you’ve given him all your correspondence to deal with, all your constituency etc and he may very naturally think that if you’d wanted to hear from him you would have written. I know from conversation with him that he’s not in the least offended by anything. You must have a very bad conscience if you think that he is. When you get this tho’ you’ll almost be leaving for home so that you wont in the least mind what anyone thinks. I am sorry Peel should have become such a bore. Poor Miss Everett.

Oliver and I had a most energetic fortnight at Chamonix. You know how uninclined to bodily exercise I am, but there I was obliged to get up at 7 in the morning and go for long and arduous climbs on skis, returning at about 4. But it was wonderfully good for me and I am now in very good physical condition and able to spring up any mountain here in no time. Its rather wasted. This is a lovely place with all the regular Riviera décors. Mimosa, orange trees, cactus, blue sea etc, with absolutely nothing to do except to go for languid strolls through lovely olive groves. The only thing, if one wants to be at all happy, is to abandon oneself to a complete lotus eaters life and to bask in the sun. A little unhealthy-ness helps for that and I am intollerably† healthy. I am here with my mother, an aunt and two elderly female cousins so you see the personel† isnt thrilling. I think we shall stay here 3 weeks, and then possibly Bongie may join us and he & Mother and I will go on to Florence, Pisa and other kindred places. But that is very uncertain, {2} it depends on the holidays of the House. I long to know what you thought of the abandonment of the Franchise. Didnt you think the P.M. at Leven in very good form {3}. Tho it seems rather a waste to go on contraverting† with Protectionists, no arguments ever seem to penetrate them and they go on quite happily propounding the same worn out and disproved fallacies. The Prime thought the Speaker quite wrong in his ruling but he didnt seem much upset, or to mind. But then he never seems to mind anything. Violet I have heard nothing of since she went to America so you see you arent the only person who is left out!

I hope your house in Queen Anne’s Gate will be a success. Is Lady Horner going to furnish it?

This is my absolute swan-letter to you. I shall be very glad to see you again.

Yrs
Venetia

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Written in pencil.

{1} MONT II B/61.

{2} Comma supplied. The preceding word runs to the edge of the page.

{3} Asquith addressed his constituents at Leven on 29 January.

† Sic.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to [Edwin Montagu]

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.—Hopes he will come to Alderley for Christmas or New Year. Is going to Switzerland with Oliver afterwards. Has had to cope with their guests alone as her mother has been away looking after Blanche, whose has had her appendix removed, and Sylvia, whose third daughter has just been born.