Marquess of Londonderry

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Biographical Information

Marquess of Londonderry (died in 2012) "He inherited his title and family estate in County Durham on the death of his father in 1955, when he was just 18. But after devoting much effort to renovating the huge family mansion, Wynyard Park, the costs became overwhelming and in 1987 he was forced to sell the house and its 6,800-acre estate to the property developer Sir John Hall — later Chairman of Newcastle United football club...

"He had two older sisters, of whom the younger, Annabel, became better known as Lady Annabel Birley and later Lady Annabel Goldsmith, wife of Sir James Goldsmith and mother of Jemima Khan...

"At Londonderry House in Park Lane, the Londonderrys hosted glittering receptions and in 1931 the Marquess achieved cabinet office as Secretary of State for Air (allegedly because of the Marchioness’s ascendancy over the Labour leader Ramsay MacDonald, who proclaimed himself her “attendant ghillie”). In the mid 1930s, however the Marquess put himself beyond the pale by making a series of visits to Hitler (whom he pronounced “very agreeable”) in a forlorn personal crusade to extend the policy of appeasement even further than Neville Chamberlain’s cabinet was prepared to contemplate. Pilloried as “The Londonderry Herr”, he died in a gliding accident in 1949 and was succeeded by his son, Alistair’s father...

"In 1972 Lord Londonderry married Doreen Wells, former principal dancer at the Royal Ballet, but happiness continued to elude him. After 17 years his second marriage, too, ended in divorce and more discomfort was to follow when Lady Cosima Somerset, whom Lord Londonderry publicly accepted as his daughter by his first wife, claimed that her biological father was the nightclub pianist and writer Robin Douglas-Home, nephew of the former prime minister and a close friend of Princess Margaret who had killed himself with an overdose of pills in the 1960s.

"In the 1960s Alastair Londonderry bought a house in Tuscany, which he renovated and where he did enjoy great happiness. After the sale of Wynyard Park, he moved to Dorset. Although he held the title of marquess for longer than any of his eight predecessors, Lord Londonderry never took his seat in the House of Lords (where his coat-hook in the cloakroom bore his English title Earl Vane), and nothing gave him greater satisfaction than to be told that he did not “look like a lord”.

"Lord Londonderry is survived by the two daughters of his first marriage and two sons by his second. His eldest son, Frederick Aubrey Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, born in 1972, succeeds to the title. "[1]


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  1. telegraph Marquess of Londonderry, organizational web page, accessed January 12, 2013.