Monday 27 May 2013

The Ladies of the Roses, part four: Lady Hillingdon. By Louisa Young

 Alice, Lady Hillingdon, 1857 -1940

The Rose

Tea rose
Origin: Lowe and Shawyer, GB, 1910
Parentage: Papa Gontier x Madame Hoste
Size of flower: 10cm
Scent: Strong, redolent of tea
Flowerings: Continuous
Height: 1m
Spread:         1m

Climbing Lady Hillingdon
Origin: Hicks, GB
Flower size: 11cm
Flowering: Remontant
Height: 4m
Spread: 2m - or rather more in my experience

Lady Hillingdon is one of the last tea roses to be bred, and a very popular one, particularly the climbing sport, which can be seen draped in creamy yellow piles up the fronts of houses the length and breadth of Britain. The flower are cupped and slightly drooping, initially a dark melting sugar colour, which fades to cream and almost white at the edges but keeping an apricot heart. They come in clusters of three to seven, with long elegant buds, and new growth is dark crimson with a purple bloom, later turning dark green. The bush tends to be thin and ungainly, but very generous with its blossoms. The climber is very vigorous (I know this to be true, because I have a vast one flowering all over my back garden wall, and drooping in bottles on my kitchen table, as I write), and its flowers are larger and droopier, and more yellow. 

The Lady

Alice, Lady Hillingdon was born the Hon Alice Harbord-Hamond and married the second Lord Hillingdon. As a wedding present her father gave them property in Norfolk, where they built Overstrand Hall, according to Pevsner 'one of Lutyens's most remarkable buildings, at the time when he had reached maturity but still believed to the full in his own inventiveness', but Lady Hillingdon reportedly preferred London, for the society. 

It is said that in her journal for 1912, or in a letter to her mother (which sounds rather unlikely), Lady Hillingon wrote: 'I am happy now that Charles calls on my bedchamber less frequently than of old. As it is, I now endure but two calls a week and when I hear his steps outside my door I lie down on my bed, close my eyes, open my legs and think of England.'

Sadly, her journal has been lost. Perhaps on purpose. But whether or not it was hers, what a gift that phrase has been. 
The picture above is her portrait by Bassano, who photographed all the ladies of the day, from the National Portrait Gallery.


Joan Lennon said...

What beauties - lady and rose!

catdownunder said...

That rose is magnificent!

Penny Dolan said...

These roses sound so beautiful and abundant in their flowers that I rather hope Lady Alice did occasionally lie down and think of her roses instead.

I wonder if the roses were in honour of her wedding, as they are were registered in 1910 and the critical journal is 1912? Or maybe 1910 marks her coming out or engagement? For whatever reason, I hope she appreciated them - and love the description of them growing up the walls of your house.

adele said...

I love this series. Thanks so much!

Kate Lord Brown said...

How lovely to put the lady to the rose!

Leslie Wilson said...

So enjoyable!

Chris Hazzard said...

My sister gave me a bush and this year she did well having survived the struggle with drought and the ravages of the possums who discovered the soft shoots.
Reading the quote attributed to Lady Hillingdon about lying down and thinking of England I was reminded of the quote from Eleanor Roosevelt whentold that a rose had been named after her. He pleasure dissolved when she read the description: No good in a bed, prefers to be up against a wall.

Unknown said...

I'm soon to marry her Grandson William Arthur Frost. He carries much of his Grandparents ways...not in the way you're thinking though!. He's just a lovely polite Man. I'd so love to get hold of a Lady Hillingdon rose for a wedding gift for him. Could you point me in the right direction please?

Kemble Argyle said...

David Austin Roses will supply We have just planted one. Looks so beautiful.