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Lafayette L2260
Neg. Date: 14-02-1900

copyright V&A

Lady Maud Warrender (1870-1945), née Ethel Maud Ashley, wife of Vice-Admiral Sir George John Scott Warrender, 7th Bt.

Lady Warrender, niece of Shelagh’s husband, often performed “theatricals” with her aunt’s sister Daisy at the great aristocratic house parties for King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. Daisy was not a competitive performer, and in January 1906, after performing “a musical fantasy of my own composition”, praised Lady Warrender’s singing as “excellent”.

Renowned for her fine voice (she had once sung a duet with Dame Nellie Melba) and her organisation abilities, “Maudie” in 1903 staged a London performance of Sir Edward Elgar’s Coronation Ode (which includes the famous anthem Land of Hope and Glory) in the presence of the King Edward and Queen Alexandra.

It was also at her instigation that the English pianist Ethel Liggins (1886-1970) adopted a Polish-sounding name – as was expected from the best musicians of time. She played under the name Ethel Leginska and was later dubbed “The Paderewski of Women Pianists”!

In this image, Lady Warrender is photographed in the Lafayette studio for a press portrait wearing the medieval-style coronet and white dress bordered with gold in which she had appeared one day earlier in The Masque of War and Peace, a musical entertainment at Her Majesty’s Theatre in aid of the Widows and Orphans of the Boer War. Inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement and the poems of Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892), there was a vogue for a theatrical recreations of a romantic, pre-industrial Britain which appealed to the patriotic ideals of the late Victorians.

Personifying “Pity” in the Masque, Lady Warrender arrived on stage in a barge with Mrs Willie James, who played “Mercy”. The Lady’s Pictorial commented: “Lady Maud Warrender has a beautiful voice which was heard as she advanced from a barge... and sang a doleful ditty which made one wish “Pity” might combine a sense of gaiety.” Another image from this sitting, for which the negative no longer exists, was published in at least three illustrated newspapers of the time.

Quite by accident Lady Warrender is credited with the British royal family’s change of name during World War I. At a private dinner party in Buckingham Palace, while chatting to King George VI she repeated some of the gossip occasioned by the dynastic name of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Queen Mary’s descent from the royal family of Württemberg and the fact that the German Emperor was the King’s first cousin: “Oh, I believe, sir, that rumours are going about that, because of your name, you're pro-German.” It was said that the king went quite white and left soon afterwards.

In October 1915 in Bad Salzbrunn (Szczawno-Zdrój), as an Englishwoman trapped in Germany by the outbreak of war, Daisy, Princess of Pless learnt of the fall of Belgrade and then heard the pianist play a 1903 melody which she and Maudie had sung together: “that old song of mine, Two Eyes of Grey, and there was I... knowing each word and not daring even to sing it...

” Two eyes of grey, That used to be so bright
What is the shadow veiling all your light ?"