Thursday, 13 December 2018

Thursday 13th December: Florence Beatrice Anson

As I talked about in Tuesday 4th December's post on Ruby Streatfeild, researching the peerage is a damn sight easier than some friendless seamstress, no offence to friendless seamstresses obviously.  Also as I mentioned with Ruby, she was related by marriage to today's lady, Lady Florence Beatrice Anson. 

Florence Beatrice Anson, c.1864
  Lady Florence Beatrice Anson came into the world on 12 August 1860, eldest daughter of the Earl of Lichfield, Thomas George Anson.  There were a great number of Anson children born between 1856 and 1877 at the family seat of Shugborough Hall...

Shugborough Hall, and very nice too
The Anson family split their time between their little place in Staffordshire (above) and the very well appointed Dover Street in London.  Of course, when in London, they moved in their society circles which included the family of 3rd Earl Somers.  He had married Virginia Pattle, so the inevitable happened...

Florence Anson (1866) Julia Margaret Cameron
I read that Isabel Somers-Cocks, daughter of Earl Somers was very sheltered and not allowed much society with other children.  She appears to have gone infrequently out to events with Florence Anson and the pair are often listed together at royal occasions during the season.  Aged six, Florence and her brothers Claude and possibly Frederick or Henry posed for Mrs Cameron.  Cameron found Florence very inspirational and I have to admit for a child of six, little Florence seems far older with her large, soulful eyes and delicate face.  I wondered if the photographs were taken in London or Freshwater but the following seems to decide the matter...

Days at Freshwater (1870) Julia Margaret Cameron
I'm taking this to be literally Freshwater, and the Anson children (Claude, aged 6, on the left, ten year old Florence and 13 year old George on the right) are the epitome of the elegant beauty of the place.  Cameron used Florence to represent nameless ideals of feminine beauty as the little girl grew towards teenagehood.

Florence Anson (1870) Julia Margaret Cameron
She has a delightfully mournful expression, seemingly without trying, and her downcast, sad eyes manage to look innocent and haunted at the same time.  They are arguably the pinnacle of Cameron's child portraits, with ten year old Florence echoing the poses and expressions that May Prinsep or Mary Hillier would also perform.

Florence Anson (1868-9) Julia Margaret Cameron
As Florence grew older, she attended many society events, including attending court events which is probably how she ended up as bridesmaid to Queen Victoria's youngest son, Prince Leopold when he married Princess Helena of Waldeck-Pyrmont in 1881.

Bridesmaid portrait, published in the commemorative Illustrated London News
Prince Leopold was the youngest son of Queen Victoria, and held very close by his protective mother due to his haemophilia, but despite the search to find him a bride that his mother approved of, he finally married a fellow royal from a European family, at Windsor Castle.  A royal portraitist was engaged to paint an image of the event...

The Marriage of the Duke of Albany 22nd April 1882 (1885) Sir James Dromgole
Florence is one of the beautiful girls in attendance, but the painting took a long time to complete, so long that sadly it became a memorial to the prince who died only two years into the marriage.  He slipped and fell while in Cannes for his health and hit his head.  He died of a cerebral haemorrhage the next day.

It's that moustache again!
Florence was married in August of 1885, having become engaged in February of the year before.  Her husband was Captain Henry Streatfeild, son of Colonel Streatfeild of Chiddingstone.  Ruby Streatfeild was one of her bridesmaids, being sister of the groom.  The wedding party contained most of the artistocrats of England with more Viscounts, Duchesses and Honorables than you could shake a stick at.  They went on honeymoon to Bowood House in Wiltshire, where my mate Lisa had her wedding reception and very nice it was too.  As Bowood House is the seat of the Marquis of Lansdowne, the couple obviously knew the family and there is a photo of Florence with the Marchioness of Lansdowne, who was her friend...

Marchioness of Lansdowne and Florence
Impossibly small waists aside, Florence had a pretty normal life, which I'm sure is a relief to all of you.  Her husband was a captain in the Grenadier Guards (which he had joined from Eton in 1876), moving all the way up the ranks until he became Colonel by 1911, when the couple are listed as living at Hoath House, Chiddingstone, Kent.  Their son, Henry Sidney John Streatfeild was born in Ottowa in 1886 while his father was working there.

Hoath House, and very nice too.
Henry kept getting honours, such as the Royal Victorian Order (member 4th class, 1902), Groom in waiting to the king, as well as being ADC to the Governor General of Canada, the Viceroy of India and the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and saw active service in the Boer War.  In the First War World, Henry was taken out of retirement and became a staff officer for the duration. Before his death in 1938, he sold the family village of Chiddingstone to the National Trust, which seems about right.  His son, Henry, inherited the family wealth, but Florence, then in her 80s, was not doing so well.

Holloway Sanatorium, Virginia Water, Surrey
In the 1939 census, Florence is a patient at Holloway Sanatorium, a private mental hospital.  She died on 25 September 1946, and although the mentions of her last year are very discreet, her place of death is registered to 'Virginia Water' so it is possible that she was still at Holloway.

Florence was buried beside her husband in the family plot at Chiddingstone, not far from fellow artist's model and sister-in-law Ruby Colville (nee Streatfeild).  It's a small world, especially in the world of upper class Victorian ladies.

See you tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Poor Florence. I wonder if she had Alzheimer’s or senile dementia as it was then called.


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