Saturday 6 August 2016

(223) Astor of Cliveden and Hever, Viscounts Astor and Barons Astor of Hever

Astor family, Barons Astor of Hever
The Astor family probably originated as artisans in the Heidelberg area of Germany (although a dubious piece of genealogy undertaken for the 1st Viscount around 1900 linked them back to the early medieval aristocracy of Spain).  Johann Jakob Astor (1763-1848), the fourth and youngest son of his father, was born at Walldorf in that area, and emigrated first to England where he joined briefly with an elder brother in working for the piano manufacturing firm of Astor & Broadwood before travelling on, in 1784, to the United States. Here he engaged very successfully in the fur trade, establishing the American Fur Company in 1808, and later in trade with China. By the time of his death he was reckoned to be the richest man in America, with a fortune estimated at no less than $20m. Since his eldest son suffered throughout his life with mental health problems and died insane, Johann's business interests passed to his second son, William Backhouse Astor (1792-1875), who after being sent back to Germany to complete his education, invested heavily in New York real estate and came to own a large slice of Manhattan. Along with the Astors' wealth there was from the beginning a strong philanthropic streak. Johann Jakob Astor established the Astor Library (one of the founding collections which in the 1890s came together to form the New York Public Library), and his son and grandson, John Jacob Astor (1822-90) diversified into support for other cultural, medical and children's charities.

John Jacob Astor had only one child, William Waldorf Astor (1848-1919), who was educated as a lawyer and was elected twice to the New York state legislature before being sent as US minister to Italy, 1882-88. Always a man of refined cultural and literary interests, he was entranced by Italian Renaissance art and found himself far more at home in the Old World than the New. 'America', he declared, 'is not a fit place for a gentleman to live', and when his father died in 1890 and left him a fortune of $100m, he decamped with his family to England, where he became a newspaper proprietor. His wealth smoothed his entrée to Society, but he never really fitted into the British establishment, and this no doubt spurred on his long and ultimately successive quest for a peerage. In 1893 he bought Cliveden House from the Duke of Westminster and embarked on a remodelling of the interiors of the already Italianate house to import more of the style and materials of his beloved Italian Renaissance. In 1899 he became a naturalised British citizen, and in 1903 he bought a further slice of British history when he acquired Hever Castle in Kent, then believed to have been the childhood home of Queen Anne Boleyn. Whereas Cliveden had been a relatively new and very grand country house when he bought it, Hever was in a dilapidated condition and gave full rein to the talents of Astor and his architect, Frank Pearson, who set about making it far more Tudor than it had ever been. The satisfactorily romantic exterior was left largely as it was, but a whole series of almost entirely new interiors were created, which Astor filled with tapestries and Tudor portraits and suits of armour to ram home the evocation of Hever's past. The old castle was only large enough to accommodate the principal reception rooms and a few private apartments, so to provide space for the family, guests and service accommodation, Pearson built a new house beyond the moat and linked to the old castle by a bridge. This vast new complex was cunningly designed to look like a Tudor village, huddling around the castle, and is undeniably visually effective. According to Pearson, one reason for this arrangement was that Astor went in fear of his life, and liked to be able to show his guests out of the moated castle at night and raise the drawbridge behind them. Casual sightseers were kept out of the security-patrolled grounds by electrically operated gates (was Hever perhaps the first house in England to have them?), earning Astor the local nickname of William 'Walled-Off' Astor.  As a result of his alterations, neither Cliveden nor Hever feels very English. Cliveden feels rather anonymously European; Hever more like an over-the-top Gilded Age mansion strayed from the environs of New York.

In 1906, William Waldorf Astor's eldest son, Waldorf (1879-1952), married the American divorcee, Nancy Langhorne Shaw (1879-1964), and he gave them Cliveden as a wedding present. Waldorf, who had been educated at Eton and Oxford, was far more English than his father would ever be. In 1910 he entered Parliament as MP for Plymouth and by the end of the First World War he was Permanent Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, David Lloyd George: a promising beginning to a serious political career. Not surprisingly, therefore, he is said to have been dismayed by his father's decision in 1916 - on which he was not consulted - to accept a peerage, since this meant that on his father's death he would have to leave the House of Commons and join the Lords, where by the 1920s a serious political career was no longer really possible. The blow fell earlier than might have been expected, when his father died in 1919, and he became 2nd Viscount Astor. The suffragettes having won the first stage of their victory in getting women the vote and the right to sit in Parliament the previous year, it was arranged that Waldorf's feisty and highly political wife Nancy should stand in his old Parliamentary seat of Plymouth Sutton at the bye-election that followed his elevation to the Lords. When she was elected, she became the first woman to take her seat in the UK parliament, and she retained it until 1945. In the 1920s and 1930s Lord and Lady Astor made Cliveden a centre of political entertaining where they sought to bring together politicians, journalists and academics of varied views for the cross-fertilization of ideas. Some of those who came were on the far right of the political spectrum, and this led in the late 1930s to allegations that there was a pro-Nazi 'Cliveden Set' which was using its influence with the Government to promote appeasement. This was untrue, although there was some sympathy among the most regular visitors to Cliveden for German resentment at terms of the Versailles Treaty of 1919, and a strong anxiety to avoid another war if at all possible. By 1939, however, it was clear to those involved that Hitler had to be stopped, and any support individual members of the Cliveden set may have given to appeasement melted away. 

In 1942 the Astors were among the first families to gift their estate to the National Trust, in return for the right to lease apartments within the house. This right passed to their eldest son, William Waldorf Astor (1907-66), 3rd Viscount Astor, but after his early death and the scandal of the Profumo Affair, the family gave up the occupation of the house, which became first the English campus of an American university and then, in 1984, an hotel.

When William Waldorf Astor died in 1919 he left Hever Castle to his younger son, John Jacob Astor (1886-1971), who joined the army in 1906 and emerged from the First World War with a wooden leg. In 1922 he acquired The Times newspaper, of which he remained owner until 1966, and in the same year he was elected to Parliament for Dover in Kent, a seat which he represented continuously until 1945. He was created 1st Baron Astor of Hever in 1956. His three sons followed him into the worlds of publishing and politics, the eldest, Gavin Astor (1919-84), 2nd Baron Astor of Hever, maintaining a link with The Times until his death in 1984. Gavin inherited Hever Castle, but found it too expensive to run, and in 1983 sold the estate to a company which broke it up and opened the castle to the public as a visitor attraction. The second son, Hugh Waldorf Astor (1920-99), was a director of Hutchinsons from 1959, and lived at Folly Farm, Sulhamstead (Berks), one of Lutyens' finest houses. The youngest son, John Astor (1923-87) was MP for Newbury for ten years, 1964-74 and lived nearby at Kirby House, Inkpen.

The youngest son of the 2nd Viscount Astor, Major Sir John Jacob Astor (1918-2000), kt., joined the Life Guards at the start of the Second World War but was moved into the SAS, with whom he undertook dangerous missions in several European theatres of war and was decorated by several different countries. In 1951 he was elected to Parliament for his mother's former seat of Plymouth Sutton, but his failure to support Anthony Eden during the Suez Crisis spelled the end of his political career, and he turned instead to agricultural improvement and horse-breeding. In 1946 he had bought Hatley Park in Cambridgeshire, and this became the centre of his activities for the next half-century; at his death in 2000 it passed to his son, Michael Astor (b. 1946), who is the present owner.

Cliveden House, Buckinghamshire

Cliveden from the River Thames
There were two hunting lodges, the Old Lodge and the New Lodge, in Cliveden Park by 1573, and this remained the case when the estate was bought by George Villiers (1628-87), 2nd Duke of Buckingham, in about 1664. Although he always planned to build a great seat here, with his notorious mistress, Anne, Countess of Shrewsbury, work did not begin until 1676, by which time the Duke and his mistress had been forcibly separated by a Parliamentary order, and the Duke had finally lost political influence.  The site for the house was selected in October 1676, and unusually the bleak and barren cliff-top above the River Thames was chosen, rather than a lower and more sheltered position that would have been conventional at the time. The Duke's architect, William Winde, began by creating a massive earthen platform for the house which was supported by the great arcaded terrace which still stands below the south front of the house. On this platform was built a tall brick house of four storeys, probably not unlike a larger version of Ashdown Park in Berkshire (which Winde is believed also to have designed). The house was habitable by 1678 and evidently complete by 1679 when John Evelyn visited and described it as a 'building of extraordinary Expense', although Buckingham went on adding to it and improving it until at least 1684. Many of the finest building craftsmen in England were employed: Edward Pierce made larger than life size statues for the 26 alcoves in the arcaded terrace; Jonathan and Edward Wilcox were the carpenters; Edward Gouge the plasterer; and Jan Siberechts painted views of local landscapes to adorn the walls of the house, none of which appear to survive. Alongside the building of the house, the park was made into a formal landscape with avenues and no doubt a parterre on the flat ground below the south front; the cliffside along the river was planted as woodland.

In 1687 the Duke died intestate and without a clear heir, and the trustees in whom his property had all been vested since 1671 for political reasons sold off his estates. Cliveden was sold in 1696 to George Hamilton (1666-1737), 1st Earl of Orkney, fifth son of the redoubtable Anne, Duchess of Hamilton, and a soldier who rose to be one of Marlborough's most trusted generals, and the husband of King William III's only English mistress, Elizabeth Villiers. A lifetime spent fighting the French did not prevent Lord Orkney from creating gardens at Cliveden in the most advanced French fashion, but in architecture his preference lay more with Italian precedents. Improvements to the house and gardens at Cliveden seem to have been almost continuously under consideration throughout Lord Orkney's ownership, perhaps because, as a younger son, he never had enough money to do things as quickly or as grandly as he wished. By November 1705 he had consulted 'several of the chiefe men in England' about alterations to the house and received 'several projects' for its remodelling 'but nothing [is] concluded'. 'The rooms are so high that I don't like it, for there is 3 storys they tell me 18 foot high besides Garetts. We think of tacking away the Garetts and lowering the next story... and building a sort of wings like [Burley-on-the-Hill (Rutland)] for offices'. One of those consulted was Thomas Archer, a group of whose designs survive in "The Cliveden Album" of material relating to the house put together by Lord Astor in the early 20th century. These designs are so close to what was actually built that almost certainly Thomas Archer was the architect finally given the commission to reduce the height of the William Winde house by removing the hipped roof and attic storey, and building wings either side of the entrance forecourt, linked to the main block by quadrant colonnades; work on these changes was complete by the end of 1712. The appearance of the house at this point was recorded in an engraving published in Vitruvius Britannicus in 1717.

Cliveden: the south front, from Vitruvius Britannicus, 1717.

Cliveden: north front, from Vitruvius Britannicus, 1717

Cliveden: plan, from Vitruvius Britannicus, 1717
Alongside his alterations to the house, Lord Orkney undertook work on the gardens as well. Lord Orkney brought in Henry Wise to design new parterres for  the level ground below Winde's great terrace, but although he had 20 or 30 men working in the gardens in February 1706, worked seems to have been stopped soon afterwards, and in April 1707 Orkney declared that his plans 'for either altering these Gardens before the House or macking new behind I give over thought of both at present'. When he turned his attention to the gardens again in 1713 he went to Claude Desgots (the nephew and successor of Le Nôtre) and perhaps to the enigmatic 'Sieur Bourguignon' who worked to Lord Petre at Thorndon (Essex) for authentically French parterre designs, but again it would seem that nothing was done, and in the end Lord Orkney settled in 1723-24 on a far simpler solution - a perfectly plain lawn with raised terrace walks either side, planted with a double row of elms, and a circular platform at the far end, with the elms continuing round it. According to 19th century reminiscences, this space was used as an open-air manège where horses were exercised. Lord Orkney reported to his brother "I call it a Quaker parter[re] for it is very plain and yet I believe you will think it noble". By this time, Lord Orkney's gardening adviser was Charles Bridgeman, who certainly laid out an area above the Thomas north-west of the house, where there is a grass amphitheatre very similar to the one he designed at Claremont, and the woodland garden south of the main drive to the house, where the square and circular clearings shown on his design can be identified on a survey plan of the grounds in 1818. 

Blenheim Temple at Cliveden, by Giacomo Leoni, c.1727
Octagonal Temple at Cliveden, by Giacomo Leoni, c.1735.
Image: Some rights reserved.
Lord Orkney continued to harbour thoughts of a more comprehensive rebuilding of the house at Cliveden and there are designs of 1727 by the Italian architect, Giacomo Leoni, for two schemes for a new central block in the Cliveden album. These schemes remained on paper, but one of them had an entrance front based on Palladio's Villa Badoer, which Leoni had illustrated in his English translation of the Quattro Libri, and which he had also used as the basis for two houses in Essex: Luxborough House and Thorndon Hall. Although plans for rebuilding the house were abandoned, Leoni was responsible for two garden buildings (the Blenheim Pavilion of c.1727 and the Octagonal Temple of c.1735) which still survive; James Gibbs provided alternative designs for the octagon temple. Leoni's octagon contained a prospect room on the first floor which in 1743 had a ceiling 'prettily done in fretwork' while below was 'a little cool room, by way of grotto'. In 1893 the floor between the two was taken out by Lord Astor and the building was converted into a chapel (in which Lord Astor was buried in 1919) and redecorated with mosaics. The Blenheim Temple is decorated with military trophies, and commemorates Lord Orkney's role as second-in-command to the Duke of Marlborough at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. In the early 19th century it was noted that the planting in this part of the park recreated in plantations of trees the arrangement of the forces before the battle, but this seems not to have been the case.

Cliveden House: view from the north, perhaps a proposal for remodelling the house,, by Thomas Sandby, n.d..
Image: British Museum 1904,0819.405
From 1738 until his death in 1751, the estate was leased to Frederick, Prince of Wales, who is made some further improvements to the gardens, adding an aviary and menagerie, and also redecorated some of the interiors. He may also have considered alterations to the house, as there is an 18th-century drawing by Thomas Sandby in the British Museum which shows the central block with a hipped roof and pediment. The house certainly never had that form, and the drawing may therefore illustrate an architectural proposal. Sandby worked for the royal family as both an artist and an architect, but he would perhaps have been an unlikely choice of architect for Frederick, as his principal royal patron was the prince's younger brother, William, Duke of Cumberland, with whom Frederick enjoyed almost as bad a relationship as with his father, the King. If the Sandby drawing is an architectural proposal, therefore, it may date from after Frederick's death, from the period when Lord and Lady Inchiquin owned and occupied the house.

Cliveden House: an undated mid 18th century engraving of the north front shows the house little altered
from its appearance in Vitruvius Britannicus.

Cliveden House: a drawing of the south front c.1759
 On 20 May 1795 the late 17th century house was almost entirely destroyed by fire, leaving only the raised terrace and Archer's wings intact. A watercolour made shortly afterwards shows clearly how devastating the fire was, with only fragments of the external walls of the central block surviving.

Cliveden House: the ruins after the fire of 1795. Image: National Trust Images

Although plans were made by John Nash and G.S. Repton in about 1805, and also by Peter Nicholson, for rebuilding the house for Mary, 4th Countess of Orkney, the cost of implementing them was beyond her resources and she continued to live in the one habitable Archer wing. Instead, in 1813 she commissioned Peter Nicholson to design a riverside 'tea house', which in 1857 would be altered and extended by George Devey and be renamed Spring Cottage. It was built on the site of a natural spring that had been used as a spa by the Orkneys.  

Section and vaulting plan of tea house, Cliveden
from Nicholson's Architectural Dictionary, 1819.
Spring Cottage, Cliveden, as reconstructed by Devey

From about 1816 efforts were made to sell the estate by private treaty, and it was eventually sold at auction in 1821 to Sir George Warrender, bt. Some parts of the estate were then excluded from the sale, and were acquired separately in 1824.  Sir George rebuilt the main block to the designs of William Burn in 1827-30. The house was 'in early Georgian style' and occupied the footprint of its predecessor, but had only two storeys. The Burn house is so elusive because, in 1849, only a few months after the house had been sold to the Duke of Sutherland, it too was completely destroyed by fire, and Archer's colonnades were pulled down to stop the flames reaching the two wings.

Cliveden: William Burn's 1827 design for his new house at Cliveden.

Cliveden from the south, as rebuilt by Barry and altered by Clutton,
Cliveden House as rebuilt by Sir Charles Barry, above the surviving 17th century terrace. Image: Peter Goodearl

The present house rose from the ashes of the old in 1850-51 to the designs of Sir Charles Barry, who at this time was the preferred architect of the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland. It occupies very much the same footprint as its predecessor, and may indeed incorporate some of its structure. In style it is Italianate, which answers well the grandeur of Winde's terrace and the majesty of its position above the Thames, looking down the Cliveden reach. Archer's surviving pavilion wings were incorporated into the house and faced with stucco to match the new house. Once work had been completed on the house, the Duke turned his attention to the gardens, where a new formal layout of the parterre to the south of the house was designed by John Fleming in 1852. A little later, the Sutherlands commissioned Henry Clutton to build a new stable courtyard and clock tower on the west side of the forecourt (in 1861), and F.P. Cockerell to design the terrace pavilion, immediately to the left of the garden front of the house.
Henry Clutton's clock tower of 1861, 
with the loggias added after 1869.

In 1869, after the Duchess of Sutherland's death, her sons sold Cliveden to her son-in-law, the 1st Duke of Westminster, who again employed Clutton to add the large porte-cochere to the entrance front of Barry's house, the open loggias flanking the clock tower, and the stone piers and ironwork at the entrance to the forecourt. Inside the house, he brought in Crace brothers, the decorators, to remodel much of the interior. In 1886 the Duke entirely rebuilt Archer's east pavilion wing in a hideous French Renaissance style to the designs of Col. R.W. Edis. Fortunately, after the house was sold to William Waldorf Astor in 1893, one of his first acts was to return this wing more or less to its original appearance.

Astor's restoration of the wing was part of a general programme of renovation and improvement carried out in 1893-97. He was keen on Italian and French taste, and in his years on the continent had amassed a collection of architectural fragments and garden ornaments, as well as the contacts from which to acquire more. With Frank Pearson as his architect, he made important changes to the interior of the house, and in the main rooms it is predominantly his decoration (restored and in places adapted for hotel use by Rupert Lord in the 1980s) which the visitor sees today. 

Cliveden House: the hall in Lord Astor's time.
Cliveden: the hall today, in use as the main hotel lounge.

The main reception rooms are all large and quite different from one another in character. The Hall was created out of three former spaces (Barry's hall, morning room and staircase) and is 82 feet long. It was intended to be an informal entertaining room in which a large house party could assemble. Astor wanted an Italianate room to remind him of his time as US minister in Italy, and the reddish oak ceiling at least responds to this brief. On the walls are a set of Brussels tapestries made for Cliveden in 1715, which must have been rescued from the fires of 1795 and 1849 (although press reports in 1795 stated that they had been destroyed). Frank Pearson's other interiors were the little study (dated 1893) and the library, panelled in Sebicu wood from South Africa in Louis XIII style: Nancy Astor described it as like 'being inside a cigar box'. For the other two main rooms, the Rococo dining room and the former drawing room, Astor went to the Parisian decorators, Allard. Their Rococo dining room is a tour-de-force of mid 18th century French Rococo design, and incorporates original boiseries of 1750 from the Château d'Asnières outside Paris, with exceptionally finely carved hunting trophies.

The Rococo dining room, decorated by Allard of Paris in 1895.
The drawing room on the south front of the house was formed by Allard from two of Barry's rooms and decorated with Corinthian pilasters around the walls; the original division between the rooms was marked by two Corinthian columns in the round. At some point before the Second World War, the 2nd Viscount Astor converted this room into a library and removed the columns. In the 1980s the space was repurposed yet again, becoming the main hotel dining room, with the bookcases retained but concealed by new panelling.

The grounds were liberally decorated with Lord Astor's collection of Roman sarcophagi and Greek and Italian statuary, including the famous Renaissance balustrade from the Villa Borghese in Rome, which was re-erected below Winde's terrace on the south front. Another, but contemporary, import was the Shell Fountain by Ralph Waldo Story, made for its position at the northern end of the main avenue. Lord Astor also laid out the Long Garden with 18th century Venetian statues and the Water Garden, with a Chinese pavilion made for the Paris Exhibition of 1867.

Cliveden House: the shell fountain by R.W. Story, at the end of the main drive. © National Trust Images/David Watson

After she took over as chatelaine of the house in 1906, Nancy Astor refreshed the decoration to make the house less gloomy and removed a lot of the classical statuary from the gardens. Cliveden was given to the National Trust with a large endowment in 1942, but continued to be a home of the Astors until 1968. From 1969-84 it was let to Stanford University in California as an English campus, but it was then restored and converted into a luxury hotel; a purpose which it continues to serve. The gardens and grounds are regularly open to the public, and there is also some public access to the house, as a condition of the hotel's lease.

Descent: sold c.1664 to George Villiers (1628-87), 2nd Duke of Buckingham; his Trustees sold 1696 to Gen. George Hamilton (1666-1737), 1st Earl of Orkney; to daughter, Anne (d. 1756), 2nd Countess of Orkney, wife of William O'Brien (d. 1777), 4th Earl of Inchiquin, who leased the estate to Frederick, Prince of Wales, 1738-51; to deaf-and-dumb daughter Mary (c.1721-91), 3rd Countess of Orkney, wife of her cousin, Murrough O'Brien (1726-1808), 5th Earl of Inchiquin and later 1st Marquess of Thomond; to daughter, Mary (1755-1831), 4th Countess of Orkney, wife of Hon. Thomas Fitzmaurice (d. 1793); burnt 1795; sold 1821-24 to Sir George Warrender (1782-1849), 4th bt., who rebuilt the house; sold 1849 to George Granville Sutherland-Leveson-Gower (1786-1861), 2nd Duke of Sutherland, who rebuilt again after a fire in 1849, in which year he gave the estate to his wife, Harriet Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, Duchess of Sutherland (d. 1869); sold after her death to Hugh Lupus Grosvenor (1825-99), 3rd Marquess and later 1st Duke of Westminster; sold 1893 to William Waldorf Astor (1848-1919), later 1st Baron and 1st Viscount Astor; given 1906 to son, Waldorf Astor (1879-1952), 2nd Viscount Astor, who gave 1942 to The National Trust, subject to a leasehold interest which was given up after the 3rd Viscount's death; the Trust then leased to Stanford University, 1969-84, and as an hotel from 1984.

Hever Castle, Kent

Hever Castle in 1778 from Hasted's History of Kent

Hever Castle from the south-west. Image: Charlesdrakew

Sir John de Cobham had licence to crenellate his house at Hever in 1384, and the moated square sandstone house he built still stands, externally rather little altered. It is really a semi-fortified house rather than a castle, with the defensive elements being primarily for show, although the moat, drawbridge and stone gatehouse would have offered some protection from casual raiding parties, if not from a determined assault. 

Hever Castle from the south-east, prior to the restoration of 1903-07.
Hever Castle: the south-facing entrance front. Image: Charlesdrakew

The south-facing entrance front has battlements and square angle-turrets with arrow-loops and gunloops at four levels, and in between a massive rectangular three-storey gatehouse, with the entrance arch reinforced by buttresses, a portcullis and deep machicolations at the top, and a row of quatrefoils and trefoil-headed panels for decoration. The large windows to the left of the entrance with hoodmoulds and cinquefoiled lights are 15th century insertions, and the smaller windows in the recessed walling adjoining the turrets are 16th century, like most of the others around the castle. The whole house is battlemented, but there are no other turrets, and on the west and north sides chimney-breasts project, topped by Tudor carved brick chimneystacks. The gatehouse leads into a small courtyard which reveals that the west, north and east ranges are timber-framed for all the impressive stone external face. 

The hall window, on the north face of the castle, is of two talled arched lights with a transom, and beside it is an octagonal turret, with a projecting bay to the right. This has three storeys of four-light  windows, with a row of quatrefoils  under the upper two, and the date 1584 in the top row, which may imply that the first major modernisation of the castle took place for the Waldegrave family at that time. The panelled long gallery on the top floor of the north range must be of about the same date, and there are three late 16th century chimneypieces in upper rooms.

Hever Castle: a painting of the entrance hall in 1909.
Hever Castle: the long gallery in 1907, with panelling of 1586 and a ceiling of 1904.

When he purchased the castle in 1903, William Waldrof Astor embarked on a major reconstruction, under the direction of Frank L. Pearson, and with W.S. Frith as principal carver, which lasted from 1903-07. He changed very little on the exterior faces of the house, but inside was another matter. All the timbers of the north, east and west ranges were renewed and the gables on the north range were reinstated, having been lost over the years. The interiors became a display of virtuoso woodwork by Frith in an early Renaissance style that was supposed to capture a romantic's vision of what the house would have been like when Anne Boleyn was growing up here. There are a few genuine pieces, mostly brought from elsewhere, including some moulded beams in 'Henry VIII's Room', the stone chimneypiece with caryatids in the morning room and the overmantel above it, which is dated 1603 and comes from Sparrowe's House in Ipswich. A rustic overmantel in the withdrawing room comes from a house in Devon, and the foreign-looking wood reliefs of scenes from Genesis in 'Viscount Rochford's Room' are also old.
Hever Castle: plan of the main building as restored by F.L.Pearson, 1906
Hever Castle: the 'Tudor Village' built as an extension to the house to provide guest and service accommodation and linked to the main building by a bridge across the moat. Image: Got my reservations

The 14th century castle was relatively small, and even as adapted by Astor could not contain all the accommodation he required. Pearson therefore built a complex of stone and half-timbered offices and guest cottages north of the moat. These are arranged around a series of courtyards, but visually are designed to give the appearance of a Tudor village huddling close to the protective walls of the castle. In the south-east corner, adjoining the bridge over the moat to the castle, was a suite of Astor family rooms, culminating in a timber-vaulted billiard room, with a monumental black marble chimneypiece at one end.

Hever Castle: aerial view, showing the relationship between the main castle building and the Tudor village to its rear.

In the gardens, Astor abandoned the Tudor for the Italian Renaissance. First comes a semicircular bagnio, backed by a yew hedge with porphyry columns standing in niches cut in the greenery, and beyond that is the Italian Garden, with a rustic loggia on the south and a series of rustic alcoves on the north in which some important Roman and Italian Renaissance sculptures are displayed. At the end is a stone classical loggia with twin domes, designed by F.L. Pearson in 1907-08, with a fountain and marble nymphs carved by Frith, and a 45-acre lake.

Descent: John de Cobham (fl. 1384); sold 1399 to Sir Stephen Scrope (d. 1408); to widow, later wife of Sir John Fastolf, guardian of Scrope's heir, who sold on coming of age to Sir Roger Fiennes; sold to his brother, James Fiennes, 1st Baron Saye and Sele; to heir, 2nd Baron Saye & Sele, who sold 1462 to Sir Geoffrey Boleyn; to son, Sir William Boleyn; to son, Sir Thomas Boleyn (d. 1538), 1st Earl of Wiltshire & Ormonde (father of Queen Anne Boleyn); to Crown; granted 1540 to Queen Anne of Cleves (d. 1557); granted 1557 to Sir Edward Waldegrave (d. 1561); to son, Sir Charles Waldegrave; to son, Sir Edward Waldegrave, 1st bt.; to grandson, Sir Henry Waldegrave (fl. 1688), 1st Baron Waldegrave; to son, James Waldegrave (fl. 1729), 1st Earl Waldegrave, who sold 1715 to Sir William Humfrys (d. 1735), 1st bt; to son, Sir Orlando Humfrys (d. 1737), 2nd bt, whose daughters and co-heirs sold 1745 to Sir Timothy Waldo (d. 1786), kt; to widow, then to daughter Jane (d. 1829), wife of George Medley of Buxted (Sussex); to cousin, Jane Waldo (d. 1841); to kinsman, Edmund Wakefield Meade-Waldo (1792-1858), who leased it to farming tenants; to son, Edmund Waldo Meade-Waldo (1829-96); to son, Edmund Gustavus Bloomfield Meade-Waldo (1855-1934), who sold 1903 to William Waldorf Aston (1848-1919), later 1st Baron and 1st Viscount Astor; to younger son, John Jacob Astor (1886-1971), 1st Baron Astor of Hever; to son, Gavin Astor (1918-84), 2nd Baron Astor of Hever, who sold 1983 to Broadland Properties, which broke up the 3,145 acre estate into 108 lots and resold, mostly to tenants, while retaining the castle and immediate grounds.

Hatley Park, Hatley St. George, Cambridgeshire

The long low two-storey red brick house with slate roofs, is the product of an unusually complex and obscure building history. There seem to be at least four main building phases, not counting 20th century changes. Though predominantly an 18th century structure it may incorporate a 17th century house, built for John St. George before 1641 as a replacement for the ancient manor house at Park Farm; if any part of this still survives, it may be represented by the five more closely-spaced bays in the south front of the central block.  

Hatley Park: elevation of south front and plan showing phases of development proposed in 1968.
Image: RCHME/Crown Copyright. Licenced under the Open Government Licence
Hatley Park: detail of engraving by John Kip, 1707, showing the house as enlarged for Sir Robert Cotton.

According to Lysons, this house was enlarged and remodelled by Sir Robert Cotton, who was given the property in 1663, and the resulting seat was depicted by Kip in an engraving of 1707 in Britannia Illustrata, which shows a typical hipped-roof late 17th century house probably of the 1680s. However, Kip's engraving is harder to reconcile with the present house than previous commentators have apparently grasped. He shows an almost square block with a main front of nine evenly spaced bays, whereas the current building has a hipped-roof centre of seven bays and is much less deep than it is wide. Kip's drawings are usually fairly accurate as far as the houses and their immediate environs are concerned (though occasionally he depicts what was planned rather than what had actually been built), and I think it is unlikely he would have mistakenly shown a seven-bay house as a nine-bay one, or have exaggerated the depth of the house so much. How then is this to be explained?

The present three-bay wings seem to have been added for Best Pearse (d. 1792) about 1750, as Carter's Cambridgeshire of 1753 records recent enlargements, but just thirty years later, on 16 November 1782, Pearse offered the materials of the house for sale in the Cambridge Chronicle, with a view to demolition. Although the 1782 advert apparently says nothing about the reason for demolition, it seems probable that some disaster, such as a fire or a drastic fungal or insect infestation, had precipitated the planned demolition, and a year later, on 8 December 1783, when the estate was advertised for auction it was stated to include "...a small park, offices, and Garden wall'd, but no mansion". I think this should be understood to mean "no habitable mansion" rather than that the house had then already been pulled down, because it is fairly apparent that the current building is of several different dates, and therefore that when the estate was bought in 1785 by Thomas Quintin, a glass manufacturer, he retained at least part of the old building and remodelled it. 

I conjecture that when the wings were built c.1750 they were not flush with the central block as now, but were set back; and that Quintin demolished the front part of the central block and constructed a new seven-bay front with large sash windows in line with the wings. This would account both for why the north front of the central block is now of seven bays rather than nine, and also why it is apparently less deep on plan than the house Kip shows. These changes would not have affected the back of the house, which continues to reflect its earlier development as proposed above, although even here there are two late 18th century rainwater heads. Inside, the only feature now attributable to Quintin's time is the late 18th century staircase with its fine wrought-iron balustrade. Other contemporary fittings must have been replaced when the interior was lavishly refitted around 1900 for Sir Charles Hamilton, 1st bt. He was responsible for the Adam-style plasterwork in the drawing room, and for the import of some genuine 18th century chimneypieces and other fittings. There have been other 20th century internal changes too, and Victorian and Edwardian additions at the east and west ends of the house were demolished before 1977.

Hatley Park: north front, 2012. Image: John by Stargoose and Hanglands.

West of the house lie a series of late 17th century red brick service buildings, identifiable with those shown in the Kip print but much altered later. The large and pleasant park seems to have been created about the middle of the 19th century, and the gardens, which bear no relation to those delineated by Kip, are understood to have been created by John Carbery Evans in the late 19th century and decorated with earlier statues and urns. A substantial stable block of c.1879 stands west of the house.

Descent: Thomas St. George (d. 1540); to son, Francis St. George (d. 1584); to son, John St. George (d. by 1646); to son, John St. George (d. 1652); to son, Richard St. George, who sold 1658 to Sir Thomas Cotton (1594-1662), 2nd bt. of Conington; to Sir John Cotton (1621-1702), 3rd bt., who settled it in 1663 on his half-brother, Sir Robert Cotton (1644-1717), kt.; to daughter Alice, wife of Samuel Trefusis of Trefusis (Cornw.); to son, Robert Trefusis, who sold 1732 to Thomas Pearse; to son, Best Pearse (d. 1792), who sold 1785 to Thomas Quintin (d. 1806), glass manufacturer; to son, John Whitby Quintin (later St. Quintin) (d. 1833); to son, Thomas St. Quintin (d. 1852); to son, Thomas St. Quintin, who sold 1868 to John Carbery Evans (d. 1893); sold 1893 to Ernest Hooley (bankrupt 1898); sold by 1900 to Sir Charles Edward Hamilton (1845-1928), 1st bt., who sold 1919 to Ernest Ridgill; sold 1920 to Sir Arthur Black, kt., who sold c.1935 to Sir Herman Lebus (d. 1957), kt.; sold 1946 to Maj. Sir John Jacob Astor (1918-2000), kt.; to son, Michael Ramon Langhorne Astor (b. 1946).

Kirby House, Inkpen, Berkshire

Kirby House, Inkpen: the entrance front of 1733. Image: Stephen Richards. Some rights reserved.

The earliest part of the house is the east front, dated 1733 on the rainwater heads, which was built, probably as an addition to an earlier house that has since been demolished, for Francis Brickendon and his wife Eleanora, and which is approached from the east by a short formal drive. The handsome elevation of five bays and two storeys in brown brick with blue headers and red dressings, has segment-headed windows, raised brick quoins, a modillion cornice of brick and a hipped roof partly hidden by a parapet, which rises in the centre to a pedimental gable. The Ionic porch, with an arched hood, looks late 19th or early 20th century, and presumably replaced the original wooden doorcase with Corinthian columns and a segmental pediment when this was moved to the north front to provide a new entrance. Inside, the staircase of 1733 with turned balusters and carved tread-ends is preserved, although it is probably not in its original location.  In 1761 a substantial hipped-roofed extension was built for Admiral Sir Thomas Frankland, overlooking the parkland to the west; and the pre-1733 may have been demolished at this time. Frankland's west front has five bays too, but a facade of grey and red brick, with widely-spaced windows. The mid 18th century stable block, with a Diocletian window under a pediment over the central archway, is probably of much the same date. On the south side is a 20th century neo-Georgian extension, replacing an octagonal 19th century tower.

Descent: Thomas Brickendon (1585-1644)... Thomas Francis Brickendon (1694-1777); sold c.1760 to Admiral Sir Thomas Frankland; sold 1771 to James Kirkby (d. 1790); to widow, Sarah Kirkby, who sold 1792 to Joseph Butler (d. 1823) of Wantage and Haslewick, Inkpen; to son, John Butler (d. 1871); to son, Rev. John Butler (d. 1895); to widow, whose executors sold 1901 to Guy Ansdell Leach (d. 1904) and William Harold Leach, who sold 1906 to Basil Edward Peto MP; who sold 1912 to Kathleen Margaret Clementi-Smith (1876-1935) (k/a Lady Clarke-Jervoise), wife of Brig. Hubert Clementi-Smith (1878-1958); sold c.1950 to John Jacob Astor (1886-1971), 1st Baron Astor of Hever, who gave the house in 1950 as a wedding present to his son, Hon, John Astor (1923-87); to son, John Richard Astor (1953-2016).

Astor family of Cliveden, Viscounts Astor

Johann Jakob Astor
Astor, Johann Jakob (1763-1848). Fourth and youngest son of Johann Jakob Astor (b. 1724) of Walldorf near Heidelberg (Germany), butcher, and his first wife Maria Magdalena (d. 1766), born 17 July 1763. He emigrated first to Britain, where his elder brother George Astor (b. 1752) was working in the flute and piano manufacturing business, Astor & Broadwood, and he joined that firm; he moved on from Britain to New York in 1783-84 and engaged in the fur trade (founding the American Fur Company in 1808) and later in the China trade. He founded the Astor Library in New York (which in 1895 was merged with the Lenox and Tilden collections to become the New York Public Library). By the time of his death he was probably the richest man in America, with a fortune estimated at $20-30m. He married, September 1785, Sarah Todd (1762-1832 or 1842), and had issue:
(1) Magdalen Astor (1788-1832); married 1st, 1807 (div. 1819), Adrian Bentzon, Governor of Santa Cruz in Danish West Indies and had issue a son (who drowned, aged 10) and a daughter (who died in infancy); married 2nd, c.1820, John Bristed, and had issue one son; died 1832;
(2) Sarah Astor (b. & d. 1790); stillborn child;
(3) John Jacob Astor (1791-1869); died insane, 1869;
(4) William Backhouse Astor (1792-1875) (q.v.);
(5) Dorothea Astor (1795-1853); married, c.1813, Col. Walter Langdon and had issue eight children (of whom five daughters survived to adulthood); died 1853;
(6) Henry Astor (1797-99); died in infancy;
(7) Eliza Astor (1801-38); married, 10 December 1825, Count Vincent van Rumpff, Hanseatic League Minister in Paris; died 1838;
(8) An unnamed son (b. & d. 1802); died a few days after being born.
He died 29 March 1848. His wife died in 1832 or 1842.

William Backhouse Astor
Astor, William Backhouse (1792-1875). Second son of Johann Jakob Astor (1763-1848) and his wife Sarah Todd, born 19 September 1792. Educated at Columbia College and the Universities of Heidelberg and Gottingen (Germany). He invested heavily in New York real estate, becoming the 'Landlord of New York' so extensive were his holdings in Manhattan. He married, 1818, Margaret Rebecca (1800-72), daughter of Gen. John A. Armstrong, US senator for Pennsylvania, Secretary for War in 1812 and Minister to France, and had issue:
(1) Emily Astor (1819-41); married, 1838, Sam Ward jr (d. 1884), banker, (who m2, Marie Angeline (k/a Medora) Grymes and had issue two sons) and had issue one son (died in infancy) and one daughter; died in childbirth, 1841 in New York (USA);
(2) John Jacob Astor (1822-90) (q.v.);
(3) Mary Alida Astor (1823-81), born 17 August 1883; married, John Carey (1821-81) and had issue one son; died 25 April 1881 and was buried at Island Cemetery, Newport, Rhode Island (USA);
(4) Laura Astor (1824-1902); married, 1844, Franklin Hughes Delano (1813-93), great-uncle of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and died without issue in Geneva (Switzerland), 1902; buried at Riverside Cemetery, Fairhaven, Massachusetts (USA);
(5) William Backhouse Astor, jr. (1829-92) of New York (USA), born 12 July 1829; educated at Columbia University (BA 1849); married, 1853, Caroline Webster Schermerhorn (d. 1908), the celebrated 'society queen' of late 19th century New York, and had issue one son and four daughters; died in Paris (France), 25 April 1892 and was buried at Trinity Church Cemetery, Manhattan, New York (USA);
(6) Henry Astor (1830-1918), born 5 July 1830; married, 4 May 1871, Malvina Dinehart (1844-1918), but had no issue; died in Manhattan, 7 July 1918 and was buried at West Copake Cemetery, New York (USA);
(7) Sarah Todd Astor (b. & d. 1832); born 2 January 1832 and died the same day.
He died 24 November 1875 and was buried at Trinity Church Cemetery, Manhattan, New York (USA). His wife died 15 February 1872.

John Jacob Astor (1822-90)
Astor, John Jacob (1822-90). Eldest son of William Backhouse Astor (1792-1875) and his wife Margaret Rebecca, daughter of Gen. John A. Armstrong, born 10 June 1822. Educated at Columbia University, the University of Gottingen (Germany), and the Harvard Law School. Financier and philanthropist, who supported causes including the Children's Aid Society, the Astor Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Cancer Hospital. He served in the American Civil War as a brevet Brigadier-General in the Unionist army and volunteer ADC to General George B. McClellan. He married, 1847, (Charlotte) Augusta (1825-87), daughter of Thomas Stanyarne Gibbes of South Carolina, and had issue:
(1) William Waldorf Astor (1848-1919), 1st Baron and 1st Viscount Astor (q.v.).
He died 22 February 1890 and was buried in Trinity Chapel Cemetery, Manhattan, New York (USA), where he is commemorated by a monument. His wife died 12 December 1887 and was also buried in Trinity Chapel Cemetery.

William Waldorf Astor,
1st Viscount Astor
Astor, William Waldorf (1848-1919), 1st Baron and 1st Viscount Astor. Only child of John Jacob Astor (1822-90) and his wife (Charlotte) Augusta, daughter of Thomas Stanyarne Gibbes of South Carolina, born 31 March 1848. Educated at Columbia University (BA); lawyer (qualified in USA 1875); member of the New York State legislature, 1878, 1881; US minister to Italy, 1882-88. Author of historical novels, including Valentino: an historical romance of the 16th century in Italy, 1885; Sforzo: a story of Milan, 1899; and of a biography, John Jacob Astor, 1899. After leaving Italy, he settled in England, where he bought the Pall Mall Gazette in 1893, founded the Pall Mall Magazine and Pall Mall Budget, and in 1910 acquired The Observer newspaper. Having left New York for good, he built the Waldorf (later Waldorf-Astoria) Hotel next to his family mansion on Fifth Avenue, New York. He became a naturalised British citizen in 1899, and was raised to the peerage as 1st Baron Astor, 26 January 1916 and advanced to be 1st Viscount Astor, 3 June 1917. He married, 6 June 1878, Mary (k/a Mamie) Dahlgren (d. 1894), daughter of James William Paul of Philadelphia (USA) and had issue:
(1) Waldorf Astor (1879-1952), 2nd Viscount Astor (q.v.);
(2) Pauline Astor (1880-1972), born 1880; JP for Surrey, 1920; married, 29 October 1904, Lt-Col. Herbert Henry Spender Clay CMG MC PC MP (1875-1937) of Ford Manor, Dormansland (Surrey) and had issue three daughters; died at her home in Guernsey, 5 May 1972 and was buried at Dormansland with her husband;
(3) John Rudolph Astor (b. & d. 1881), born 28 November 1881; died in infancy, 27 December 1881 and was buried in the Astor vault, Trinity Church Cemetery, Manhattan, New York (USA);
(4) John Jacob Astor (1886-1971), 1st Baron Astor of Hever [for whom see below, under Astor family of Hever];
(5) Gwendolyn Enid Astor (1892-1902), born 1 April 1892; died of tuberculosis in London, 12 September 1902, and was buried at Trinity Church Cemetery, Manhattan, New York (USA).
He purchased the Cliveden estate (Bucks) from the 1st Duke of Westminster in 1893, for a reputed price of $1.25m, and is said to have spent a further $6m on improvements to the house designed by J.L. Pearson. In 1906 he gave the house to his elder son as a wedding present and moved to Hever Castle in Kent, which he restored and embellished.
He died 18 October 1919 and was buried at Cliveden chapel. His wife died at Cliveden, 22 December 1894 and was buried in Trinity Chapel Cemetery, Manhattan, New York (USA).

Waldorf Astor, 2nd Viscount Astor,
and Nancy, Lady Astor, 1935.
Image: NPG/Bassano Ltd. Some rights reserved
Astor, Waldorf (1879-1952), 2nd Viscount Astor. Eldest son of William Waldorf Astor (1848-1919), 1st Viscount Astor, and his wife Mary Dahlgren, daughter of James William Paul of Philadelphia (USA), born 19 May 1879. Educated at Eton and New College, Oxford, where he earned his blue at polo and fencing before being diagnosed with a weak heart and being forbidden to ride. He was Acting Chairman of The Observer, 1910; Conservative MP for Plymouth, 1910-18 and Plymouth Sutton, 1918-19, and served in First World War as Inspector of Quartermaster General Services for London District, 1914-17 and as PPS to the Prime Minister, 1917-18. Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food, 1918-19. He succeeded his father as 2nd Viscount Astor, 18 October 1919, but continued his political career in the House of Lords as Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health, 1919-21 and Chairman of the Departmental Commission on Tuberculosis, the State Medical Research Committee, and the League of Nations Committee on Nutrition, 1936-37; he was a member of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1935-49 (Chairman, 1939-49). He was a Lieutenant of the City of London and became an hon. Freeman of the City of London, 1934 and of Plymouth, 1936; Lord Mayor of Plymouth, 1939-44; High Steward of Maidenhead. He was a keen racehorse owner, and won the 2,000 guineas in 1945 with 'Court Martial'. A teetotaller, and from 1924, a Christian Scientist. He married, 3 May 1906, Nancy Witcher CH (d. 1964), daughter of Chiswell Dabney Langhorne of Mirador, Greenwood, Virginia (USA) and former wife of Robert Gould Shaw; his wife was Conservative MP for Plymouth Sutton, 1919-45, and the first female MP to take her seat in the House of Commons; she was appointed a Companion of Honour, 1937, and received honorary degrees from the Universities of Exeter, Birmingham, and Reading, and from the College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia (USA). They had issue:
(1) William Waldorf Astor (1907-66), 3rd Viscount Astor (q.v.);
(2) Hon. (Nancy) Phyllis (k/a Wissie) Louise Astor (1909-75), born 22 March 1909; married, 27 July 1933, Sir Gilbert James Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 3rd Earl of Ancaster and had issue one son (who died in the lifetime of his father) and one daughter; died 2 March 1975;
(3) (Francis) David Langhorne Astor CH (1912-2001) of Sutton Courtenay Manor House (Berks), born 5 March 1912; educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford; served in Second World War as a Captain in Royal Marines and was awarded the Croix de Guerre, 1944; journalist on The Yorkshire Post; foreign editor of The Observer, 1945-48; owner and editor of The Observer, 1948-75 (and a director to 1981); appointed a Companion of Honour, 1993; married 1st, 1 August 1945 (div. 1951), Melanie Mathilda Elena, daughter of Philip Hauser of Berne (Switzerland) and had issue one daughter; married 2nd, 28 February 1952, Bridget Aphra (1927-2019), eldest daughter of Maj. Cyril Wreford of Yew Tree House, Goosey (Berks) and had issue two sons and three daughters; died 6 December 2001; will proved 18 April 2002;
(4) Michael Langhorne Astor (1916-80) of Red Brick House, Bruern (Oxon), born 10 April 1916; educated at Eton and New College, Oxford; served in Second World War with Berkshire Yeomanry and as a Captain in the Royal Artillery; Conservative MP for Surrey East, 1945-51; appointed to the Arts Council of Great Britain, 1968; author of an autobiography, Tribal Feeling, 1963, and a novel, Brand, 1968; Chairman of the London Library; married 1st, 28 February 1942 (div. 1961), Barbara Mary Colonsay (d. 1980), daughter of Col. Ronald Frank Rous McNeill of London and had issue two sons and two daughters; married 2nd, 12 July 1961 (div. 1968), (Patricia David) Pandora (d. 1988), second daughter of Hon. Sir Bede Edmund Clifford KCMG CB of Jacob's Well, Guildford (Surrey) and formerly wife of Timothy Angus Jones, but had no issue by her; married 3rd, 1970, Judith Caroline Traill, daughter of Paul Innes and formerly wife of John Moynihan, and had issue one daughter and adopted his stepson, who was an illegitimate son of Lord Kagan; died 28 February 1980; will proved 12 September 1980 (estate £3,794,442);
(5) Sir John Jacob (k/a Jakie) Astor (1918-2000) [for whom see below, under Astor of Hatley Park].
He was given the Cliveden estate as a wedding present by his father in 1906, but gave it to The National Trust in 1942, while retaining the right to family apartments in the house.
He died 30 September 1952; his ashes were interred at Cliveden chapel. His widow died 2 May 1964 and her ashes were also interred at Cliveden chapel.

William Waldorf Astor,
3rd Viscount Astor
Astor, William Waldorf (1907-66), 3rd Viscount Astor. Eldest son of Waldorf Astor (1879-1952), 2nd Viscount Astor, and his wife Nancy Witcher CH MP, daughter of Chiswell Dabney Langhorne of Mirador, Greenwood, Virginia (USA) and former wife of Robert Gould Shaw, born 13 August 1907. Educated at Eton and New College, Oxford. Member of the Pilgrim Trust, 1930-31; Secretary to Lord Lytton at the League of Nations inquiry in Manchuria, 1932; in Unemployment Department of National Council for Social Service, 1933-34; Conservative MP for Fulham East, 1935-45 and for Wycombe, 1951-52; PPS to First Lord of the Admiralty, 1936-37 and to Home Secretary, 1937-39; served as Lt-Cmdr. in Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve during Second World War. After the war he became a director of The Observer newspaper; Chairman of the Standing Conference of British Organisations for Aid to Refugees; High Steward of Maidenhead. He succeeded his father as 3rd Viscount Astor, 30 September 1952. He was a racehorse owner and manager of the Cliveden Stud. He continued to live at Cliveden in the family apartment leased from The National Trust. In July 1961 Cliveden was the setting for the subsequently infamous first meeting of John Profumo and Christine Keeler, whose brief affair led to a political scandal and hastened the end of the Macmillan government; the strain of the scandal also affected the health of Lord Astor, who died a few years later. He married 1st, 14 June 1945 (div. 1953), Hon. Sarah Katharine Elinor (d. 2013), only daughter of Richard Henry Brinsley Norton, 6th Baron Grantley; 2nd, 26 April 1955 (div. 1960), Philippa Victoria (d. 2005), eldest daughter of Lt-Col. Henry Philip Hunloke of Pendower House, Ruan High Lanes (Cornw.); and 3rd, 14 October 1960, (Janet) Bronwen Alun (1930-2017), model and TV announcer and later psychotherapist, youngest daughter of His Honour Sir John Alan Pugh of The Old House, Dunsfold (Surrey), and had issue:
(1.1) William Waldorf Astor (b. 1951), 4th Viscount Astor (q.v.);
(2.1) Hon. Emily Mary Astor (b. 1956) of Aberfeldy (Aberdeens.), born 9 June 1956; photographer; married 1st, 1984, Alan M.C.L. Gregory, elder son of Donald Gregory of San Francisco, California (USA); married 2nd, 1988 (div. 1995), James Ian Anderson (b. 1952), insurance broker, son of Capt. John Murray Anderson, and had issue two sons and two daughters;
(3.1) Hon. Janet Elizabeth Astor (b. 1961) of Goodwood House (Sussex), born 1 December 1961; educated at New College, Oxford (BA) and Kings College, London (MA); married, 1991, as his second wife, Charles Henry Gordon-Lennox, Earl of March & Kinrara, only son of 10th Duke of Richmond & Gordon and had issue three sons and one daughter;
(3.2) Hon. Pauline Marian Astor (b. 1964) of Turville Lodge (Oxon), born 26 March 1964; married, 1990, George Christopher Vaughan Case, son of Denis Case of Marlow (Bucks) and had issue three daughters.
He inherited the lease of family apartments in Cliveden House from his father in 1952, but this was given up after his death.
He died at Nassau, Bahama Islands, 7 March 1966, aged 58; his will was proved 22 April 1966 (estate £661,672). His first wife married 2nd, 1953 (div. 1965), Lt-Col. Thomas Michael Baring, and died 4 February 2013; her will was proved 14 June 2013. His second wife died 20 June 2005; her will was proved 27 April 2007. His widow died 28 December 2017.

William Waldorf Astor,
4th Viscount Astor
Astor, William Waldorf (b. 1951), 4th Viscount Astor. Only son of William Waldorf Astor (1907-66), 3rd Viscount Astor, and his first wife, Hon. Sarah Katharine Elinor, daughter of Richard Henry Brinsley Norton, 6th Baron Grantley, born 27 December 1951. Educated at Eton. He succeeded his father as 4th Viscount Astor, 7 March 1966. A Lord in Waiting (Government whip) in House of Lords, 1992-93; Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security, 1993 and at Department of National Heritage, 1993-95; he was one of the hereditary peers elected to sit in the House of Lords, 1999. A member of the Founding Council of the Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford. A director of Silvergate Media Ltd. (Deputy Chairman) and Networkers plc; a Trustee of the Stanley Spencer Gallery, Cookham, since 1974. He married, 14 January 1976, Annabel Lucy Veronica (b. 1948), entrepreneur, founder of Annabel Jones jewellery and Oka home furnishing, daughter of Timothy Angus Jones of London NW1 and formerly wife of Sir Reginald Adrian Berkeley Sheffield, 8th bt. (by whom she had issue two daughters, including Samantha Sheffield, later wife of Prime Minister David Cameron), and had issue:
(1) Hon. Flora Catherine Astor (b. 1976), born 7 June 1976; married, 2006, Alexander Theophilus Rycroft (b. 1975), son of Henry David Rycroft, and has issue one son and one daughter;
(2) Hon. William Waldorf Astor (b. 1979), born 18 January 1979; director of an asset management company; married, 5 September 2009 at East Hendred (Berks), Lohralee (b. 1980), daughter of Serge-Alain Stutz, and has issue one son and one daughter;
(3) Hon. James Jacob Astor (b. 1981), born 4 March 1981; educated at Eton and Oxford; investment analyst in Hong Kong; married, 13 September 2014 at Northington (Hants), Victoria L., daughter of Lt-Col. Patrick Hargreaves, and has issue three daughters;
He lives at Ginge Manor (Berks).
Now living.

Astor family of Hever, Barons Astor of Hever

John Jacob Astor,
1st Baron Astor of Hever
Astor, John Jacob (1886-1971), 1st Baron Astor of Hever. Youngest son of William Waldorf Astor (1848-1919), 1st Viscount Astor and his wife Mary (k/a Mamie) Dahlgren, daughter of James William Paul of Philadelphia (USA), born 20 May 1886. Educated at Eton and New College, Oxford. An officer in the 1st Life Guards, 1906-17 (Maj, 1914); ADC to the Viceroy of India, 1911-14; served in First World War at Ypres and Cambrai; twice wounded (losing his right leg); Hon. Col. of Kent and Sussex Royal Garrison Artillery, 1927-46 and 23rd London Regiment, 1928-49; Lt-Col. of 5th Battn, London Home Guard, 1940-44. Owner of The Times newspaper, 1922-66 (Chairman 1922-59); a director of the Great Western Railway, 1929-48, Hambros Bank, 1934-60, and Barclays Bank, 1942-52. Unionist MP for Dover, 1922-45 (and despite his wooden leg, parliamentary squash champion, 1926 and 1927); JP (1929-62) and DL (1936-62) for Kent; Alderman of London County Council, 1922-25; Lieutenant of the City of London. He was President of the Kent branch of the British Legion, 1934-62, the National Association for the Employment of Regular Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen, 1936-62, the Press Club, the Newspaper Press Fund, and the Commonwealth Press Union, 1929-71; Chairman of Middlesex Hospital Board, 1938-62 and Medical School, 1945-62 and Vice-President of the Royal College of Music, 1934-62. He was Public Schools Racquets champion, 1905 and Army Racquets champion, 1908 (singles and doubles); Chairman of the Marylebone Cricket Club, 1937, Kent County Cricket Club, 1929 and Hurlingham Club, 1929-49. He was appointed a Chevalier of the Legion d'honneur, and was created 1st Baron Astor of Hever, 21 January 1956. He married, 28 August 1916, Lady Violet Mary DSt.J (1889-1965), youngest daughter of Gilbert John Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound, 4th Earl of Minto and widow of Lord Charles George Francis Mercer-Nairne MVO, and had issue:
(1) Gavin Astor (1918-84), 2nd Baron Astor of Hever (q.v.);
(2) Hon. Hugh Waldorf Astor (1920-99) of Folly Farm, Sulhamstead (Berks), born 20 November 1920; educated at Eton and New College, Oxford; served in Second World War as Lt-Col. in Intelligence Corps; joined staff of The Times, 1947 (Director, 1956; Deputy Chairman, 1959-66; Chairman of The Times Bookshop, 1960-67); a director of Hutchinson Ltd, 1959-78, Winterbottom Trust Ltd, Hambros Bank Ltd, Pheonix Assurance and Olympia Ltd. (Deputy Chairman, 1971-73); Chairman of the Air League; High Sheriff of Berkshire, 1963-64; Trustee of Trust House Forte (Chairman 1971); Deputy Chairman of Middlesex Hospital, 1962-64; Chairman of King Edward's Hospital Fund for London, 1983-88; Governor of Bradfield and Gresham's Schools; Prime Warden of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers, 1976-77; Knight Commander of the Star of Ethiopia; married, 8 November 1950, Emily Lucy (1930-2013), eldest daughter of Sir Alexander Davenport Kinloch, 12th bt. of Gilmerton, and had issue two sons and three daughters; died 7 June 1999; his will was proved 20 July 1999;
(3) Hon. John Astor (1923-87) (for whom see below, Astor of Kirby House, Inkpen).
He inherited Hever Castle from his father in 1919. He lived latterly at Terres Blanches, Pegomas (France).
He died 19 July 1971; administration of his goods with will annexed was granted 13 March 1972 (estate £416,135). His wife died 3 January 1965; her will was proved 12 March 1965 (estate £121,475).

Gavin Astor,
2nd Baron Astor of Hever
Astor, Gavin (1918-84), 2nd Baron Astor of Hever. Eldest son of John Jacob Astor (1886-1971), 1st Baron Astor of Hever and his wife Lady Violet Mary DSt.J., youngest daughter of Gilbert John Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound, 4th Earl of Minto and widow of Lord Charles George Francis Mercer-Nairne MVO, born 1 June 1918. Educated at Eton and New College, Oxford. Served in Second World War as Capt. in Life Guards, 1939-45. High Sheriff of Sussex, 1955-56; Lord Lieutenant of Kent, 1972-82; Seneschal of Canterbury Cathedral, 1973-83. Chairman of The Times newspaper, 1959-66 (co-owner, 1962-66) and Life President of Times Newspapers, 1967-84; President of Commonwealth Press Union, 1972; Chairman of Council of Royal Commonwealth Society, 1972-75; Prime Warden of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, London, 1981-82. A director of Electrolux Ltd, Monotype Association and Alliance Assurance. President of The Pilgrims, 1977 and founder of the Astor of Hever Trust, 1955. He succeeded his father as 2nd Baron Astor of Hever Castle, 19 July 1971. He married, 4 October 1945, Lady Irene Violet Freesia Janet Augusta (1919-2001), youngest daughter of Sir Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig of Bemersyde, and had issue:
(1) John Jacob Astor (b. 1946), 3rd Baron Astor of Hever (q.v.);
(2) Hon. Bridget Mary Astor (b. 1948), born 16 February 1948; married 1st, 1980 (div. 1986), Count Arthur Tarnowski (d. 2012), younger son of Count Hieronim Tarnowski of Poland, and had issue two sons; married 2nd, 1989, Geoffrey Richard Smith, fourth son of James William Smith of Eywood House, Titley (Herefs) and had issue one daughter;
(3) Hon. (Elizabeth) Louise Astor (b. 1951), of Withcote (Leics), born 1 March 1951; married 1st, 1979 (div. 1981), David John Shelton Herring; married 2nd, 1985, David Joseph Ward FRCS MB BS, son of Joseph Ward FRCOG, MRCP, LRCP of Fordwich (Kent) and had issue one son and one daughter;
(4) Hon. Sarah Violet Astor (b. 1953) of Gnaton Hall, Yealmton (Devon), born 30 September 1953; High Sheriff of Devon, 2011-12; married, 22 February 1975, Hon. George Edward Lopes, younger son of Massey Henry Edgcumbe Lopes, 2nd Baron Roborough, and had issue one son;
(5) Hon. Philip Douglas Paul Astor (b. 1959) of Tillypronie, Tarland (Aberdeens.), born 4 April 1959; educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford and Inner Temple (called to bar, 1989); barrister-at-law; married, July 2012, Justine H. (b. 1964), editor of Harper's Bazaar, elder daughter of Michael Picardie.
He inherited the Hever Castle estate from his father in 1971, sold some of the principal contents in 1982, and the remaining contents, the house and the estate in 1983.
He died of cancer, 28 June 1984. His widow died in 2001.

John Jacob Astor,
3rd Baron Astor of Hever
Astor, John Jacob (b. 1946), 3rd Baron Astor of Hever. Elder son of Gavin Astor (1918-84), 2nd Baron Astor of Hever and his wife Lady Irene Violet Freesia Janet Augusta, youngest daughter of Sir Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig of Bemersyde, born 16 June 1946. Educated at Eton. An officer in the Life Guards, 1966-70 (Lt.). Managing Director of Honon et Cie, 1982 and Astor France, 1989; President of Astor Enterprises Inc., 1983, and Motorsport Industry Association. Secretary of the Anglo-Swiss Parliamentary Association, 1992. Joint Treasurer of the British-South African Parliamentary Association; Chairman of Defeating Deafness, 2001. DL for Kent, 1996-date. He succeeded his father as 3rd Baron Astor of Hever, 28 June 1984, and was one of the hereditary peers elected to the House of Lords, 1999; he was a Conservative whip in the Lords, 1998-2001 and a spokesman on Social Security and Health, 1998-2003 and Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs, 2003-10; a Lord in Waiting (Government whip), 2010-11 and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, 2010-15. A Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, London. President of the Durand Group for First World War research; He married 1st, 18 July 1970 (div. 1990), Fiona Diana Lennox, daughter of Capt. Roger Edward Lennox Harvey of Parliament Piece, Ramsbury (Wilts) and 2nd, 5 May 1990, Hon. Elizabeth Constance, younger daughter of John Mackintosh, 2nd Viscount Mackintosh of Halifax and formerly wife of Timothy Cutting and Nicholas Chagrin, and had issue:
(1.1) Hon. Camilla Fiona Astor (b. 1974), born 8 May 1974; married, 2006, Dominic M. Trusted and has issue one son and two daughters;
(1.2) Hon. Tania Jentie Astor (b. 1978), born 18 April 1978; therapist with Conscious Psychology Ltd; married, 2012, Alex Howard and has issue two daughters (one born before the marriage); 
(1.3) Hon. Violet Magdalene Astor (b. 1980), born Jul-Sep. 1980;
(2.1) Hon. Charles Gavin John Astor (b. 1990), born 10 November 1990; educated at Bristol University; founded Sharky and George, childrens' entertainers, 2003; married, 17 June 2019 at Guignicourt-sur-Vence (Ardennes, France)Princess Eliane Marie Ghislaine de Merode (b. 1990), only daughter of Prince Léonel Amaury Marie Ghislain de Merode, of Westerlo, Belgium;
(2.2) Hon. Olivia Alexandra Elizabeth Astor (b. 1992), born 21 August 1992; autistic; educated at Homefield College (Leics).
He lives at French Street House, Westerham (Kent).
Now living.

Astor of Hatley Park, Hatley St. George

Astor, Major Sir John Jacob (k/a Jakie) (1918-2000), kt. Fourth and youngest son of Waldorf Astor (1879-1952), 2nd Viscount Astor, and his wife Nancy Witcher CH MP, daughter of Chiswell Dabney Langhorne of Mirador, Greenwood, Virginia (USA) and former wife of Robert Gould Shaw, born 29 August 1918.  Educated at Eton and New College, Oxford. Served in Second World War as a Major in Life Guards and the SAS; in action in Italy, France, Germany and Norway and was awarded the Legion d'honneur and the Croix de Guerre and appointed MBE, 1945. Conservative MP for Plymouth Sutton, 1951-59; Parliamentary Private Secretary to Financial Secretary to Treasury, 1951-53; his political career was ended when he was one of six Conservative MPs who refused to support the 1956 invasion of Suez. Farmer and racehorse breeder; Chairman of National Institute for Agricultural Engineering, 1963-68, Agricultural Research Council, 1968-78 and National Economic Development Council for Agriculture, 1973-78; member of Horserace Betting Levy Board, 1976-80 and Totalisator Board, 1983-85; Steward of the Jockey Club, 1968-71, 1983-85; President of the Thoroughbred Breeders Association. JP (1960-74) and DL (1962) for Cambridgeshire; High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely, 1967; knighted, 1978. He married 1st, 1944 (div. 1972), Ana Inez (d. 1992), younger daughter of Dr. Don Miguel Angel Carcano KCMG KBE, Argentine ambassador to the UK, 2nd, 1976 (div. 1985), Mrs Susan Sheppard (d. 1997), daughter of Maj. Michael Eveleigh of Lyddington (Leics); and 3rd, 1988, Marcia (fl. 2013), daughter of John Ernest McCallum and former wife of Peter John de Savary, and had issue:
(1.1) Michael Ramon Langhorne Astor (b. 1946) (q.v.);
(1.2) Stella Inez Astor (b. 1949), born 18 May 1949; married 1974 (div. 1989), Martin George Anthony Wilkinson of Cwm Hall, Clunton (Shropshire), son of Martin Wilkinson of Thornton Hall, Banbury (Oxon) and had issue one son and one daughter; reverted to her maiden name after her divorce;
(1.3) John William Astor (1962-63), born 29 November 1962; died in infancy, 9 March 1963.
He purchased Hatley Park, Hatley St. George (Cambs) in 1946 and lived there until his death.
He died 10 September 2000; will proved 4 January 2001. His first wife died in 1982. His second wife died in 1997. His third wife was living in 2003.

Astor, Michael Ramon Langhorne (b. 1946). Elder and only surviving son of Sir John Jacob Astor (1918-2000) and his first wife, Ana Inez, younger daughter of Dr. Don Miguel Angel Carcano KCMG KBE, Argentine ambassador to the UK, born 29 September 1946. Educated at Eton. He married, 1979, Daphne, daughter of Edward Mortimer Morris Warburg of Westport, Connecticut (USA), and has issue:
(1) Jessica Nancy Astor;
(2) Luke Langhorne Astor;
(3) Heloise Mary Astor.
From an earlier relationship with Pauline Murray-Jones he has one son:
(X1) James Edward Astor (b. 1976), born 10 January 1976; educated at Marlborough College; he has, from a relationship with Suzanne Lundgren Lloyd, one daughter.
He inherited Hatley Park from his father in 2000.
Now living.

Astor family of Kirby House, Inkpen 

Astor, Hon. John (1923-87). Third and youngest son of John Jacob Astor (1886-1971), 1st Baron Astor of Hever, and his wife Lady Violet Mary, youngest daughter of Gilbert John Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound, 4th Earl of Minto and widow of Lord Charles George Francis Mercer Nairne MVO, born 26 September 1923. Educated at Eton. Served in Second World War as F/Lt. in RAF Volunteer Reserve, 1942-46; Conservative MP for Newbury, 1964-74; PPS to Minister of Overseas Development, 1970; member of Berkshire County Council, 1953-60 (Alderman, 1960-74). He married 1st, 19 July 1950, Diana Kathleen (1926-82), fourth daughter of George Henry Drummond of Mount Rule, Isle of Man and 2nd, 1982, Penelope Eve (1940-2006), daughter of Cmdr. George Francis Norton Bradford RN and formerly wife of David Rolt, and had issue:
(1.1) Elizabeth Kathleen Astor (b. 1951), born 22 July 1951; lives at Inkpen (Berks);
(1.2) (John) Richard Astor (1953-2016) (q.v.);
(1.3) (George) David Astor (b. 1958), born 8 July 1958; lives at Ashbury (Berks); married, 1983, Marianne Piroska Julia, only daughter of John Hurleston Leche of Carden (Cheshire) and had issue one son and one daughter.
He was given Kirby House, Inkpen as a wedding present in 1950.
He died 27 December 1987; his will was proved 8 July 1988 (estate £2,525,393). His widow married 3rd, 12 July 1995, George John Charles Mercer Nairne Petty-Fitzmaurice (1912-99), 8th Marquess of Lansdowne, and died in 2006.

Astor, (John) Richard (1953-2016). Elder son of Hon. John Astor (1923-87) of Kirby House, Inkpen (Berks) and his first wife, Diana Kathleen, fourth daughter of George Henry Drummond of Mount Rule, Isle of Man, born 20 November 1953. Educated at Eton and Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. He married, 7 July 1977, Katherine Mary (b. 1954), elder daughter of Brig. Sir Jeffrey Lionel Darell, 8th bt., MC, and had issue:
(1) Emily Mary Astor (b. 1980); married, 2011, Capt. Henry A. Willi;
(2) Charles John Astor (b. 1982), born September 1982; educated at Eton;
(3) Tamara Sarah Diana Astor (b. 1989); actress.
He inherited Kirby House, Inkpen from his father in 1987.
He died 4 February 2016. His widow is now living.


Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 2003, pp. 170-74; G. Jackson-Stops, 'The Cliveden album', Architectural History, 1976, pp. 5-16; G. Jackson-Stops, 'Cliveden, Buckinghamshire', Country Life, 24 February & 3 March 1977; C. Aslet, 'Hever Castle, Kent', Country Life, 1-8 January 1981; M. Hanson, 'Heading for another break-up?', Country Life, 12 May 1983; R. Haslam, 'Cliveden, Buckinghamshire', Country Life, 10 April 1986; The National Trust, Cliveden guidebook, 1990; Sir N. Pevsner & E. Williamson, The buildings of England: Buckinghamshire, 2nd edn., 1994, pp. 253-58; W. Hitchmough, 'Tales from the riverbank', Country Life, 10 February 2000; J. Crathorne, Cliveden: the place and the people, 2nd edn., 2001; P. Willis, Charles Bridgeman and the English landscape garden, 2002, pp. 427; G. Tyack, S. Bradley & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Berkshire, 2010, pp. 340-41; J. Newman, The buildings of England: Kent - West and the Weald, 3rd edn., 2012, pp. 292-95; N. Livingstone, The mistresses of Cliveden, 2015; A. Tinniswood, The long weekend, 2016, pp. 74-75.

Location of archives

Astor family of New York (USA): correspondence and legal papers, 1792-1916 [New York Public Library, MSS Col. 141]; estate correspondence and papers, n.d. [New York Historical Society].
Astor, Waldorf (1879-1952), 2nd Viscount Astor: correspondence and papers, 1902-52 [Reading University Library, MS1066]; parliamentary correspondence and papers, 20th cent. [Plymouth & West Devon Record Office, Acc. 186]
Astor, Nancy (1879-1964), Viscountess Astor: political and family correspondence, diaries and papers, 1900-64 [Reading University Library, MS1416; MS3748]; parliamentary correspondence and papers, 20th cent. [Plymouth & West Devon Record Office, Acc. 186]; miscellaneous correspondence and papers [Virginia Historical Society]
Astor, William Waldorf (1907-66), 3rd Viscount Astor: correspondence and papers, 1930s-60s [Reading University Library, MS5513]
Astor: John Jacob (1886-1971), 1st Baron Astor of Hever: papers, 20th cent. [News UK Archive]

Coat of arms

Astor, Viscounts Astor: Or, a falcon resting on a dexter hand couped at the wrist proper and gauntleted gules; in chief two fleurs-de-lys of the last.
Astor, Barons Astor of Hever: Argent, eight barrulets sable overall resting on a dexter hand couped at the wrist proper, gauntleted gules, a falcon also gules; in chief two fleurs-de-lys of the last

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 6 August 2016 and was updated 10 August 2016, 5 August 2017, 6 January and 11 November 2018, 12 October and 30 December 2019 and 3 March 2020.

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