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Lafayette L4712
Neg. Date: none

copyright V&A


Gladys, Marchioness of Ripon (d. 1917) and her 2nd husband Frederick Oliver Robinson, 2nd Marquis of Ripon (1852-1923) when Earl and Countess de Grey

Lady de Grey’s love of music and her husband’s reputation as one of the best shots in England brought them in contact with Daisy who wrote of them “Gladys de Grey was of course… Lord Pembroke’s sister and remarkably handsome, clever and distinguished-looking. Her husband, who was also charming, was a marvellous shot.”

As one of the few women who “dazzled every London drawing-room” with her wit, good looks and energy, Lady de Grey played perfectly the Edwardian double-role of respectable aristocrat and private enchantress.

She was one of the first grand ladies to have a telephone installed in her London residence when she realised that its use removed the risk of discovery inherent in love notes.

In public, she played a large part in the rejuvenation of the opera scene in London and counted Melba, Diaghilev, the de Reszke brothers and Nijinsky among her friends - something akin to scandalous at the time as aristocratic ladies did not mix with theatre people. Lord de Grey is not on record as having raised any objections to her parties or behaviour.

As inveterate modernisers, the de Greys were naturally interested in the new technology represented by the automobile, and along with Lady Randolph Churchill and Daisy’s brother, George Cornwallis-West, they were early car owners.

In this 1905 image, made for The Car Illustrated, the couple are photographed standing next to their Napier motor car in the grounds of their home, Coombe Court, Surrey, which was later immortalised in the English novelist John Galsworthy’s Forsyte Saga.