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Edith Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Marchioness of Londonderry DBE (3 December 1878 – 23 April 1959) was a noted socialite and philanthropist in the United Kingdommarker between World War I and World War II.


Born as Edith Helen Chaplin in Blankneymarker, Lincolnshiremarker, she was the daughter of Henry Chaplin (later the 1st Viscount Chaplin). After the death of her mother in 1881, Edith was raised largely at Dunrobin Castlemarker, Sutherlandmarker, the estate of her maternal grandfather, the third Duke of Sutherland.

On 28 November 1899, she married Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, who later inherited his father's title in 1915, whereupon Edith became Marchioness of Londonderry. They had five children, the firstborn of whom, their only son, Robin, became the 8th Marquess in 1949, at which point Lady Londonderry became Dowager Marchioness of Londonderry. One of Lady Londonderry's grandchildren, Annabel Goldsmith, is also a noted London socialite.

Public works

In 1914, after the outbreak of World War I, she was appointed the Colonel-in-Chief of the Women's Volunteer Reserve (WRV), a volunteer force formed of women replacing the men who had left work and gone up to The Front. The WRV was renamed in July 1914 as The Women's Legion and was considerable in size by the end of the War, comprising tens of thousands of volunteers.

Lady Londonderry also aided with the organisation of the Officers' Hospital set up in her housemarker, and was the first woman to be appointed to be a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Military Division, upon the Order's establishment in 1917.


Characteristically luxuriant planting contained within formally clipped edging
the 1920s, Lady Londonderry created the gardens at the Londonderry family estate of Mount Stewartmarker, near Newtownardsmarker, County Down. She added the Shamrock Garden, the Sunken Garden, increased the size of the lake, added a Spanish Garden with a small hut, the Italian Garden, the Dodo Terrace, Menagerie, the Fountain Pool and laid out walks in the Lily Wood and rest of the estate. This dramatic change led to the gardens being proposed as a UNESCOmarker World Heritage Site. They are regarded by Heritage Island as being one of the best gardens in the British Islesmarker.


After she created her garden and the death of her husband, she gave the gardens to the National Trust in 1957. She died of cancer on 23 April 1959, aged 80.


Lady Londonderry's friendship with Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, although platonic, was a source of gossip in her time and has since become an iconic friendship of English social history.


Lady Londonderry also wrote or edited several books, among which are Henry Chaplin: A Memoir (1926), The Magic Ink-Pot (1928), Retrospect (1938) and Frances Anne: The Life and Times of Frances Anne, Marchioness of Londonderry, and Her Husband, Charles, Third Marquess of Londonderry (1958).


Further reading

  • De Courcy, Anne. Society's Queen: The Life of Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry. London: Phoenix, 2004. ISBN 0-7538-1730-6 (Originally published as Circe: The Life of Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry. London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1992. ISBN 1-85619-363-2)

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