Roundup: Shopping Lists, Inheritance and a Lecture

–The auction house Bonham’s has on offer an unusual example of Wavian memorabilia. Here’s their description:

Collection of 24 autograph postcards (from Piers Court), and 3 letters signed by Waugh (22 “E.W.”, 2 “Evelyn Waugh”, 3 unsigned) to Mrs. [Sylvia] Barker, of 6 St. John’s Avenue, Putney, SW15 on one occasion requesting she “get six seats front row dress circle for Peter Pan… also six seats on the previous or subsequent day for the Circus”, on 27 April 1951 asking if she could “be very kind & go, or send another Aunt” to the lost property office “I left a cigar case in a taxi between Hyde Park Hotel & Eaton Terrace. It is new pig skin, double-backed containing one cigar”, but the others almost exclusively discussing the acquisition, or merits of various pieces of furnishing (candle sticks, curtains, a side-board as a wedding gift for Randolph Churchill, a shooting stick for his wife’s birthday, etc.) the letters 1 page, 2 on “White’s” paper; the postcards (all but 3 with integral address, and date stamped), 2 with small ink illustrations of curtain rails, one with a piece of fabric attached with a pin, 8vo, Piers Court, Nr. Dursley, Glos., 17 July 1948-14 November 1951 (27)
‘I WANT A GREAT LEATHER ARM CHAIR, VERY COMFORTABLE, VERY HANDSOME, SUITABLE FOR SLEEPING IN. WHAT YOU FIND IN CLUBS… RED’ – Waugh writes to a Mrs. Barker of Putney in regards to her acquiring for him items of furniture, decorative items and curtains, displaying a keen interest on the detail. Amongst items discussed are a pair of steel dogs (‘not ornate enough’); wanting as ‘a wedding present for Randolph Churchill a side-board… Something cheap & showy. Must be in perfect condition. Not modern of course’ (4 months later noting that ‘I saw Randolph C’s sideboard for the the first time last week and I thought a good buy. He is delighted with it’); ‘I need carpets. The only man I know is in Vigo Street & madly expensive… I need a lot of electric lamps & shades. Where do i go for them?’; ‘Do you have anyone who wants a contemporary oil painting (full length but would cut down) of George III’s queen? I have one to get rid of… I was in Paris lately – hated it’; suggesting an amusing way in which to chose a chair suitable for himself, ‘get a fat little man, fill him with port, put him in the chair. If he goes to sleep and wakes up without cramp, buy it…’.

Provenance: Sylvia Marvell Barker (1906-1992), Great Aunt of the present owner.

The auction closes on 20 June (Thursday) at 12:00 BST. Click here for details, including copies of several examples on some of which Waugh includes drawings to explain his potential purchases.

The Times reports a complex change in inheritance procedures at Castle Howard, the setting for both film and TV adaptations of Brideshead Revisited. Here are excerpts from the story:

For eight generations the stewardship of Castle Howard the stately home recognisable from the television dramas Bridgerton and Brideshead Revisited has passed from father to son. Evelyn Waugh could not have envisaged the most remarkable plot twist in the 300-year history of the estate.

Traditional inheritance has been replaced by a formal interview. The heir has apparently been asked to resign from the estate’s board and told he will have to compete against his half-sister and their four cousins if he wants to succeed his father. George Howard, 38, had been a director since 2012 and it was assumed that he was being groomed to replace his father, Nicholas, 72. George is the only child of Nicholas with his first wife, Amanda, a daughter of the actor Derek Nimmo….

“When looking at the structures in place there was one anomaly there, which was that George, my son, was a director, which gives him an unfair advantage over his cousins,” he said. “In discussions with him he agreed he would resign so there is now a level playing field for the next generation.”

George must compete against his half-sister, Blanche, 29, his uncle Simon’s twins, Merlin and Octavia, 22, and his uncle Anthony’s daughters Arabella, 38, and Grania, 35. “I think George initially found it quite a difficult conversation, but he came to understand how important it is that there is no sense one person is simply preferred over anyone else,” Nicholas said. “There is no plot or conspiracy.”

The estate’s articles of association were amended recently by Nicholas to allow him to remove a director, but he insists that George resigned voluntarily. When Nicholas retires, all six cousins will have the opportunity to be interviewed for the job running the estate, initially for a ten-year period.

Nicholas said: “I have seen in my own lifetime places that have been in the same ownership of the same family for many, many generations passed on to the oldest son, because that is just the way they do it, and have seen those places driven into the ground.”…

The story goes on to describe the irony of the present owner’s position on the inheritance procedures, given his own reliance, at least in part, upon primogeniture to acquire the estate from his younger brother:

Nicholas initially gave up the chance of running Castle Howard to focus on an attempt to become a pop star. After the death of their father, Lord Howard of Henderskelfe, a former BBC chairman, in 1984, the estate was handed to Nicholas’s younger brother, Simon. Nicholas evicted Simon from the stately home in 2014 after his marriage to Victoria Barnsley, a former chief executive of the publishing giant Harper- Collins, who was installed as chatelaine. …

Nicholas has not set a date for his retirement. “Continuity is so important in these ownerships and there has been a bit of disruption in the past, a bit of turbulence, and it is very important to me that we settle the ship on a steady course,” he said. “I was brought up at Castle Howard. It is a wonderful place and I have increasingly felt as I have gone through my life that I would do anything to make sure it survives, not necessarily anything to ensure that the Howard family survives in it.”

The full story, entitled “Castle Howard succession battle puts family members in competition”, appears in the 15 June 2024 issue of The Times and is written by David Brown.

–Lancing College has reported the 2024 delivery of their annual Evelyn Waugh Lecture:

We were honoured to welcome Sir Gregory Doran as our guest for the 2024 Evelyn Waugh Lecture. Sir Greg, the Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre at the University of Oxford, was knighted in the 2024 New Year’s Honours for services to the Arts. An outstanding Shakespearian with an illustrious career, he was Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 2012 to 2022. He was with the RSC for 36 years, starting his career as an actor before becoming a director. He became the company’s associate director in 1996 and worked closely with the RSC’s previous artistic director, the late Sir Michael Boyd:

“Shakespeare has been a passport through my life, and I have been privileged to be able to spend so much of my career working with the very greatest company dedicated to his work, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and sharing his genius with as many as possible around the world.”

Sir Greg’s wonderfully engaging lecture took the audience behind the scenes of his challenges and successes of staging Shakespeare’s most famous plays. He also read vignettes from his new book, My Shakespeare: A Director’s Journey through the First Folio, which included stories from his 2009 stage production of Hamlet with David Tennant and Anthony and Cleopatra at The Swan with Patrick Stewart and Harriet Walker in 2006. Everyone then made their way to the beautifully illuminated Dining Hall for supper, where Sir Greg also graciously signed copies of his book.

The Evelyn Waugh Lecture and Dinner is an ‘invitation only’ annual event to thank our donors and volunteers who support the Lancing Foundationers Campaign.

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