everything that could be strapped, buckled or laced

No one does eccentricity as well as the British aristocracy.  Henry Cyril Paget, 5th Marquis of Anglesey did it better than most.

With his flowing peacock robes and jewelled highlights in his long, silky hair, Henry Cyril Paget, the 5th Marquess of Anglesey, adored attention.

Dressed in outlandish clothes, his willowy figure could be spotted walking along fashionable Piccadilly in central London with a snow white, pink-ribboned poodle under his arm.

NOT this ‘poodle’

He was so rich and self-indulgent that he had his motor cars modified to spout exhaust gases perfumed with patchouli and ‘l’eau d’Espagne.

In just a few years, the Dancing Marquess blew the equivalent of almost half a billion pounds on his eccentric lifestyle, acquiring gems by the fistful and a wardrobe of such opulence that it included 260 pairs of kidskin gloves, 200 gold scarf pins and 100 tailored dressing gowns.

NOT this dressing gown

He married his cousin Lilian Chetwynd in 1898, though the marriage was annulled two years later

image found here

Lily was beautiful with pale green eyes and red-gold Titian hair, as if she had just stepped out of a pre-Raphaelite painting. As a wedding present, he bought his new wife a galaxy of gems.

Then, on their honeymoon, when she stopped and gazed at a jeweller’s window display in Paris, he went inside and bought the whole lot for her.

He then made her wear them to the races, which embarrassed her. She did not like such public shows of opulence. In private, too, she was embarrassed. Her husband liked to view his emeralds, his rubies, his diamonds displayed on her naked body. But he didn’t lay a finger on her. There was no sex. He just stared.

Mata Hari NOT Lily

The moment he had come into his inheritance he had raised ready cash by mortgaging his estates. That gave him £250,000 (£125million in today’s terms). It was soon gone, but instead of stopping, he went on spending, piling up debts before, in 1904, tipping over into bankruptcy.

At the castle, trustees appointed by his creditors found treasure chests of pearls, gold cigarette cases studded with rubies and the world’s biggest collection of walking sticks.

walking stick handle found here

Among the more remarkable items that appeared in the sale were his walking sticks. Many of them had round handles so thickly encrusted with diamonds, rubies, amethysts and emeralds that the setting was almost invisible. when the auctioneer set in motion a beautifully modelled cockatoo’s head, which adorned the head of a stick, it lifted its crest of hackles, opened its mouth and blinked its eyes. By the same mechanical aid the yellow ivory head of a Chinaman leered and grinned most realistically, a donkey flapped its ears, and a duck opened and shut its bill.

The Marquess’s boots were laid out – leather ones, crocodile-skin, skating boots, suede shoes and silk tapestry slippers – “a complete collection of everything that could be strapped, buckled or laced upon the foot of man”, as a local newspaper put it.

Though most of the photographs of him that still exist show the Marquis in one of his fabulous costumes, he did have a slightly more sober side….

“I must apologise for not appearing before you in peacock-blue plush wearing a diamond and sapphire tiara, a turquoise dog-collar, ropes of pearls and slippers studded with Burma rubies; but I prefer, and always have preferred, Scotch tweed.”


Published in: on December 17, 2009 at 7:39 am  Comments (29)  
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29 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Now those are some swell handles to walking sticks Nurse!

    What is it with all the wealthy long ago marrying their relatives? I guess money does not buy brains. but she was a pretty girl, no doubt.

  2. I’ve never heard of this chap before – thank you Nursey.

    [Giggling at Ricardo’s comment – probably for the wrong reasons – tee hee]

  3. That cane handle reminds me that you posted another many months ago. It was shaped like a penis and was very elegant and beautiful.

    • oh I remember that one, it was in the Sex Museum at Barcelona.

      Synchy, you’ve got to watch this… Royce loves everything that is ELEGANT

      • That one dude seems a bit bitter but the other fellow seems nice, what with appreciating Martha Raye’s dirty show and all. That plus a sound grasp of finance makes other fellow the choice for roomie.

        Sharon Chores

      • Oh, what a racket!!

  4. I wonder if this is where the phrase “If you’ve got it, flaunt it” came from. Sounds like a very nice chap though.

  5. Wow…he makes a pimp look underdressed.

  6. in the first pic, he looks like Evil Knievel. Or a child molester doing an Elvis impersonation…

    • I wonder if Evel Knievel molested children?

  7. What a fine emporium of elegant idiocy you run!

    • thank you circus monkey

  8. Love it, NM!

    “Her husband liked to view his emeralds, his rubies, his diamonds displayed on her naked body. But he didn’t lay a finger on her. There was no sex. He just stared.”

    As long as I got to keep the jewels, I don’t think I would have aproblem with this…

    ps. That “poodle” kills me…

    • Guess that is what is meant by the family jewels. And I thought….

  9. Lilian Chetwynd does not look as though she is the kind of lady to reciprocate oral sex with anything other than a silver teaspoon.

    Next to a Rabbit, I guess diamonds really are a girls best friend.

    • Teaspoon? Now there’s an idea … you clever Bastard!

      • Rabbit? Now there’s an idea… you clever Bastard!

  10. “No-one does eccentricity as well as the British aristocracy.” Well of course they don’t darling, why else would anyone put up with us?

  11. I have some family jewels I would like to display on your naked body…

  12. so that’s where they got our staff dress code from!

  13. I want that poodle

    • Stand in line Frankelstache 😉

  14. I think cousin Lilian was right to be shy at the races decked in all that opulent finery. The poor pre-raphaelite wanted to swan about in diaphanous gowns and a dandelion crown.

    The walking stick handles look a bit higgledy piggledy in their design and I can imagine they might be uncomfortable to grip. But they could leave some interesting marks nonetheless …

  15. Sounds just like my life . . I am so dapper

  16. I don’t believe in reincarnation, but err is this bloke Elton John or what?

    The King

    • I think two of him would fit inside one Elton John

  17. Glam Rock before Glam Rock.

  18. I also prefer scotch.

    Tweed, not so much but scotch, scotch is good.

  19. Wow. Great post, Nurse. Love the photos too, where in the world do you find them?


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