Showing posts with label Embassy Club. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Embassy Club. Show all posts

Sunday, July 11, 2010

One Lady, 3 Lords.

News comes that one of Britain's most famous society hostesses, the late Lady Edith Foxwell is to be the subject of a documentary that will tell the story of her amazing life.

Lady Edith, who died in 1998  was known as the 'Queen of London Society' during the 1970s and '80s . With New Zealander Stephen Hayter-who once boasted he kept his press clippings in a Swiss bank vault, Edith opened the Mayfair nightspot The Embassy Club.

 Once married to film producer Ivan Foxwell. she was granted her title with "the rank of a daughter of  an Earl" in a rare move by Royal Warrant because her uncle, the Earl of Cavan was a celebrated war hero.
The Social Shuttle spent many a night in our youth with Lady Edith as a 'walker' accompanying her to parties and she occasionally stayed in our London apartment for weeks on end. It was always meant to be overnight but somehow time stretched as did the horrendous telephone bills that followed her departure. In the day of timed calls, Edith's endless chats to her Hollywood pals like Zsa Zsa Gabor or Joan Collins could almost bankrupt one.

Lady Edith owned a splendid country manor called Sherston where she threw great weekend parties relying on an interesting mix of people from all walks of life. She would phone tSS and say "I think it's a bit top heavy with gay boys this week-could you bring a couple of women?". Inevitably her butler would then phone shortly after and request we also pick up half a dozen bottles of champagne and assorted spirits on the way down. That call usually went to just about every guest. Edith kept her cellar fully stocked without spending a penny.
Once over a Sunday lunch at Sherston with 40 guests the cook disclosed to tSS that none of Edith's staff had been paid for 6 months and her credit had finally been cut off in the village.

 Sherston backed onto Princess Anne's property who Edith sued once when Anne's gamekeeper shot one of her dogs. It also bordered a 'commune' where Princess Margaret dallied with her paramour Roddy Llewellyn . The commune was run by the Australian 'Christian The Lion' identity John Rendall who owned an antique shop in the Kings Road at the time. Asked if she ever mingled with neighbours she replied "good God no, frightful snobs the lot of them . It's much more fun in the local pub". She did however give Sherston over to Prince Andrew so he could conduct a then secret affair  with his girlfriend Koo Stark.

 Lady Foxwell had a London flat but she gave it to her daughter Atlanta as wedding present when she got married, hence she was perpetually homeless in London. Atlanta married a very handsome Italian, Prince Stefano Massimo , the son of a Riviera playboy and Dawn Addams, a 1950's British movie star. Stefano is also a descendant of Lucrezia Borgia and a Roman emperor.
'once black, never go back'
Once at one of Edith  parties  tSS noticed a face that seemed vaguely familiar. On asking our hostess who he was she said "oh that Scientology man, he's so much fun and brings crates of Moet". It was  L. Ron Hubbard who was living on an old tramp steamer on the Thames River. A few days before we had read in the Times that the FBI were looking for him to interview him over some matter.

 Edith had an affair when she was 62 with the African American singer Marvin Gaye and then she was hooked saying "once black never go back". She had a string of young black boyfriends who she loved to flaunt around town. Once tSS returned home and burst into our bedroom in the afternoon and with huge embarrassment found Edith in flagrante with her  22 year old beau Winston. Edith just smiled sweetly and winked while we backed out of the room.

Meanwhile journalist Marcus Scriven has penned a book on 3 aristocrats who fell on hard times and squandered huge family fortunes. 
Edward FitzGerald, 7th Duke of Leinster, also known as "the bedsit duke" spent a $600M fortune before he committed suicide. Angus Montague, horrendously  overweight, was the 12th Duke of Manchester, who died in 2002 after being crane-lifted out of his tiny flat. He spent time in an American jail for fraud but avoided the slammer in the UK for similar charges when the judge decided he was 'so dim' he didn't know better.
Another who Scriven writes about is John Hervey the 7th Marquess of Bristol.

 tSS  got to know Hervey briefly during his short 44 years before he died of a drug overdose in 1999 having spent a $10M inheritance. There are tales that didn't make it into Scriven's book. Hervey adopted a sort of Oscar Wilde pose although he wasn't quite as amusing but certainly indulged in rent boys and dubious acquaintances.

The late John Hervey
We ran across John Hervey once in New York in the early 1980s. He was accompanied by a man who  he introduced as his personal lawyer although we had already met that man. The lawyer had been a friend of the writer Robin Maugham who was the nephew of Somerset Maugham.

Robin Maugham wrote a rather scandalous book called The Wrong People about a wealthy man who adopts a young boy and moulds him into his ideal image of a boyfriend. Our lawyer was the real life example and few knew that Maugham was writing from real life experience.

Hervey and the lawyer were busted for drugs in a New York hotel. The lawyer took the rap and Hervey said he would hire the best attorneys to get him off. He promptly returned to London and forget about the man languishing in jail. The lawyer got a 25 year sentence and died 8 years later in Rikers Jail.
Towards the end of his life John Hervey visited Australia but was arrested after a week on an immigration charge. He hadn't notified authorities upon his arrival that he had been arrested and served time in jail in the UK for drug offences.
In the magistrates court the prosecutor asked Hervey why, when filling in his immigration card, he didn't note as required, that he had a criminal record. 
Hervey replied " oh I thought you had to have a criminal record to get into the country". He was deported the next day.

 Splendour and Squalor : The Disgrace and Disintegration of Three Aristocratic Dynasties by Marcus Scriven