Warwickshire County Record Office Archivists Amanda Williams, Laura Orriss and Hilary Peck have been involved in a new four-year project to make the Greville Family of Warwick Castle collection fully accessible for the first time. The team are almost at the halfway point, and as a result have learned much about the people who resided at Warwick Castle and the documents they created. This exhibition serves as a brief illustration of the collection and a few of the project team’s findings so far.
The Greville Family of Warwick Castle collection is the result of centuries of accumulation. The archive comprises a variety of different types of documents, ranging from official state papers to personal correspondence, with an enormous amount of material relating to the administration of the family’s estates across England and south Wales. The Greville archives encompass over 800 years of history, with documents in the collection dating from the 1160s spanning all the way to the 1970s.
The Greville archives were stored in three rooms in Guys Tower and the enormity of the collection has meant that several attempts to catalogue it have taken place since the 19th century. In 1845, Messrs Buck and Baker (the agents for the castle estate), arranged the large number of deeds and official papers into a series of bundles. Fifty six years later, in 1901, the Reverend J Harvey Bloom extracted the earlier and more interesting records from Buck and Baker’s bundles to create a new catalogue. His research formed the basis of Warwick Castle and its Earls, the book authored by Daisy, Countess of Warwick, published in 1903. Although his work was swift, there were many inaccuracies that the team are still working to correct to this day.
A third attempt to catalogue and arrange the collection happened in the 1970s. Mr Pepys, Lord Brooke’s librarian, worked on the material previously unlisted by Buck, Baker, and Bloom. By this time, Charles Guy Fulke Greville, 7th Earl of Warwick, had given the castle and his estates to his son David, Lord Brooke, to avoid future death duties. In 1978, Lord Brooke decided to sell Warwick Castle to the Tussauds Group. He opted to sell the archives separately, and Warwickshire County Record Office began a campaign to raise the £120,000 needed to keep the collection in the county. In 1979, the collection reached its new home, at Warwickshire County Record Office.
In the early 1980s, archivist Christine Woodland identified and catalogued almost 2000 account books and other financial records within the collection. Although four catalogues have been produced so far, until recently they have remained separate, with each one only covering part of the collection. The aim of the current project is to consolidate these old catalogues into a new usable structure, as well as catalogue the substantial amount of previously unlisted material.
It is a common misconception that this collection encompasses the full history of Warwick Castle. It is important to remember that this is the collection from the Greville family, and therefore contains very few documents relating to the castle’s previous owners such as the medieval earls of Newburgh or Beaumont, Beauchamp or Neville, and nothing of the later Dudley and Rich families.
That there is some documentary evidence relating to the medieval earls is perhaps the result of a conscious effort to obtain charters, letters, or other documents by later Greville family members, or perhaps the records were amongst the manorial material the Grevilles possessed.
One of Warwick Castle’s most famous incumbents, the kingmaker, Richard Neville earl of Warwick, can be glimpsed through a solitary letter written from Calais. He has heard of the death of the Bishop of Norwich, and that the Bishop of London is to succeed him, with Mr John Arundell ‘to become Bishop of London and therefore the benefice of Kybworth (Leics) will be void, and the Earl wishes to secure it for William Cha’br’ [?Chamber]. It is known that Richard’s information was incorrect.
The star of the medieval collection is the charter of Henry de Newburgh. The charter should date to before the earl’s death in 1119, however this has been questioned in recent years and it is now believed that the handwriting is not in keeping with the time, and that a later earl’s seal (the grandson of Henry) is suspended by a tag from the document. A forgery or backdated deed? Not an unusual occurrence, but it does mean the document is likely to be some fifty years or so younger than first thought.
Meanwhile, the Greville family, who had descended from a successful wool merchant, had been busy amassing manors and property, and with it the documentary evidence to stake their claims. Due to their land possession, the collection holds a rich seam of charters, including a large series relating to Alcester Abbey. With the acquisition of manors and lands comes not only the many manorial court rolls and related records, but also title deeds. These were not just in Warwickshire but also stretched into neighbouring counties and as far as Yorkshire, down to Somerset and Dorset, and across into Wales. It gives the sense of the Grevilles acquiring and consolidating economic and political powerbases, with Beauchamp Court in Alcester being at the beginning of it from 15th century onwards.
An Elizabethan Courtier: Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke
Fulke Greville (1554-1628) was born at Beauchamp Court, Alcester, and at the age of 10 years old was sent to Shrewsbury School, where he became firm and lifelong friends with Philip Sidney.
In 1604 Warwick Castle was granted to Fulke Greville by James I. As a statesman, courtier, poet and dramatist, Fulke Greville was already a prominent figure in society: he had been a favourite of Elizabeth I, a Member of Parliament since 1581, and Treasurer of the Navy from 1598. Warwick Castle had crumbled into a state of dilapidation, and Fulke Greville set about renovating his new powerbase, the home of his Beauchamp ‘ancestors’.
In 1606 he inherited the titles of Baron Willoughby de Broke and Baron Latimer, going on to serve as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1614-1621. Shortly after this, Fulke Greville was raised to the Peerage of England when he was granted the new title of Baron Brooke of Beauchamps Court.
Fulke Greville died in 1628 after he was murdered by a servant called Ralph Haywood. Haywood felt cheated after being left out of his master’s will, so stabbed him before turning the knife on himself. This act itself did not immediately kill Fulke, however, the medical treatment of applying pig fat to seal the wounds led to infection. Fulke Greville died in agony four weeks later. His body was brought back to Warwick and interred in a tomb that had been designed 10 years previously. His tomb can still be found today in the Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick.
The Civil War Lord Brooke: Robert Greville, 2nd Baron Brooke
Robert Greville (1607-1643) was born in Helpringham, Lincolnshire. His father, also named Fulke Greville, was squire of Thorpe Latimer and a distant cousin of Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke. Lord Brooke was unmarried and childless, so proposed to adopt the four-year-old Robert as his heir.
It is clear Fulke Greville intended to mould Robert for the role, as he took responsibility for Robert’s education. When Fulke Greville was granted the title Baron Brooke of Beauchamp Court in 1621, the letters patent formalised Fulke’s wishes for Robert to inherit the title, which he did just seven years later in 1628. Fulke Greville had been strongly Protestant in outlook, while Robert followed the Puritan pathway.
Robert Greville, along with a band of noted Puritans including the Earl of Warwick (Robert Rich – the Greville family would not hold this title until over a century later) and Viscount Saye and Sele formed the Providence Company. They had a Puritan missionary zeal as opposed to slave trade ambitions and founded a settlement at Providence Island in 1629 – a colony in Caribbean which was meant to be a ‘Godly Commonwealth’. Robert Greville and Viscount Saye and Sele also established an American colony in Connecticut named Saybrook.
Robert Greville’s political leanings were Parliamentarian, and at the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642, he was ready to command Parliamentary forces in both Warwickshire and Staffordshire. His involvement in the Civil War was short-lived; Robert was killed by a sniper while at Lichfield, Staffordshire, in March 1643, aged 35 years old.
A Georgian Affair: Francis & Elizabeth, 1st Earl and Countess of Warwick
Skipping forward several generations, we come to Francis Greville (1719-1773) who inherited Warwick Castle and the title of 8th Baron Brooke following the death of his father in 1727. He married Elizabeth Hamilton (1720-1800) in 1742. As the granddaughter of the Duke and Duchess of Hamilton, Elizabeth was of a higher social status and helped to raise the profile of the Greville family. In 1746 Francis was created Earl Brooke of Warwick Castle.
For 141 years, the Earldom of Warwick had been held by the Rich family, despite them not having a connection to the area. When Edward Rich, 8th Earl of Warwick, died without a male heir in 1759, the title became extinct. Francis Greville successfully petitioned George II to create the Warwick Earldom for a fourth time. He became the 1st Earl of Warwick, and the title has remained in the Greville family ever since.
Francis and Elizabeth had seven children between 1743 and 1751, including the future 2nd Earl of Warwick, George Greville (1746-1816). An eighth child, Anne, was born on 26 August 1760. In the years leading up to Anne’s birth, Elizabeth had grown close to General Robert Clerk, a Scottish officer who had often visited Warwick Castle in the 1750s.
Francis separated from his wife just two weeks after Anne’s birth, assuring Elizabeth an income of £2000 per year. Elizabeth moved in with General Clerk, and the pair eventually married the year after the Earl of Warwick died in 1773.
During his lifetime, Francis Greville was responsible for many of Warwick Castle’s renovations, including the construction of the private apartments and the State Dining Room. He also employed Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown to redesign the garden and grounds, and the famous artist Giovanni Antonio Canal (commonly known as Canaletto) who painted five views of the castle.
A Victorian Family: George & Anne, 4th Earl and Countess of Warwick
Francis and Elizabeth’s great grandson was George Guy Greville (1818-1893). George Greville inherited the castle and the title Earl of Warwick following the death of his father in 1853. In 1852, George had married Anne Charteris, and the couple had five children between 1853 and 1866: Francis, Alwyne, Louis, Eva and Sidney. Anne was a prolific artist, and some of her sketches are scattered through her extensive personal correspondence.
Anne’s personal correspondence showcases snippets of her grown-up children’s daily lives, and the informality of them provides a unique insight into the family dynamic. Although separated for much of the time, the family unit seems to have remained tightknit. George and Anne’s only daughter, Eva, was a Lady-in-Waiting to Mary of Teck, so glimpses of the royal household can be seen through her letters.
Letters from George and Anne’s sons give news of their pursuits around the world. Alwyne was a member of the Royal Rifle Corps, and spent time stationed in Dublin, while Louis was a member of the British Legation, and sent letters from his numerous foreign posts including Copenhagen, Rome, and even Tokyo. The cataloguing of this part of the collection is ongoing, so new and exciting finds are still being uncovered.
An Edwardian Socialist: Daisy Greville, 5th Countess of Warwick
Born 10th December 1861, at 27 Berkeley Square, London, to Colonel the Hon. Charles Maynard and Blanche Fitzroy, Daisy could trace her ancestry through her mother’s line to Charles II and Nell Gwynne, also Charles II and the Duchess of Cleveland, Barbara Palmer, nee Villiers. Although named Frances Evelyn Maynard, she was always known as Daisy. Not only was she heiress to a huge fortune bestowed upon her by her paternal grandfather Henry, 3rd Viscount Maynard of Easton Lodge [Essex], she was also said to be beautiful and was therefore extremely eligible.
Hopes that Daisy would marry Queen Victoria’s son, Prince Leopold, were dashed when she accepted her preferred offer of marriage from Francis Greville, eldest son of George Greville and heir to the earldom of Warwick. They married at Westminster Abbey, 30 April 1881. Amongst other Maynard estates, Daisy brought with her Easton Lodge, her favourite residence, and where she spent most of her time at the end of her life.
A letter from Brookie to his mother following the birth of Leopold Guy: ‘Daisy is well and the baby improving much in looks […] he lives like an alderman now, nothing but food and sleep.’ CR1886/Box467. (image)
The marriage to Francis, known to his family and friends as Brookie, was promising at the start. The pair had a son to inherit the title, Leopold Guy Greville. Following this, the relationship appears to have dulled. Daisy lived her own life, occasionally dealing with the consequences of her unconventionality. Daisy’s other children were not the biological progeny of her husband, and at least one pregnancy nearly caused a scandal (Mercy). She was somewhat protected by her friendship with the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII, having been one of his official and long-term mistresses for nearly 10 years.
Her politics were at odds with her class, including her family members and friends. The older she became, the more she aligned herself to the socialist cause. Although frequently criticised – the term ‘champagne socialist’ could probably never be better applied – she used her wealth and position in trying to help those much less fortunate than herself.
Daisy was steadfast in her support for socialist causes and had already spent time and money providing colleges for the working classes, in particular the school of Bigods in Dunmow, Essex, and – most forward thinking of all – an agricultural college for women in Studley, Warwickshire. This college was originally called Lady Warwick Hostel, and later became Studley Agricultural College.
Daisy was determined to improve the lot of working-class children, campaigning for free school meals for working class children and founding local institutions. However, she never ceased to live a life of great luxury despite her poor business acumen, which led to failing fortunes. Despite this she continued to be seen at grand affairs and made frequent visits to the Riviera and other fashionable destinations at will.
Her husband Francis died in 1924, and their son Guy died in 1928. By the end of her life, even the dazzling Daisy was viewed as belonging to a bygone era. Her health had declined, but she continued to throw herself into causes of the heart, which for the most part now centred around animals.
Daisy’s life was a contradiction, and whether she was sincere in her views or not (a much-aired opinion by her peers), she didn’t merely spout her opinions but worked to put her ideas into practice. That she knew she was derided and disapproved of by her own class for her political leanings mattered very little to her.
A Wartime Nurse: Marjorie Greville, 6th Countess of Warwick
Daisy’s daughter-in-law, Elfrida ‘Marjorie’ Greville (1887-1943) was married to Leopold ‘Guy’ Greville, the heir to the earldom of Warwick in 1909. Marjorie was the only daughter of William Eden and Sybil Frances Grey of Windlestone, Bishop Auckland. She was sister to four brothers: Jack, Timothy, Robert and Nicholas Eden. Robert is better known as Anthony Eden, who was Prime Minister from 1955 to 1957. Her eldest brother Jack was killed near Ypres in October 1914, and her youngest brother Nicholas, a midshipman on HMS Indefatigable, was killed aged 16 during the battle of Jutland in 1916.
Marjorie kept up a constant stream of correspondence with her surviving brothers and other Eden kin during the First World War, relaying news, sending out parcels and attempting to keep their spirits up. She also appears to have played a role in finding them positions, given she had the ear of her husband, whose own military career (at this point cut short), still meant he many had connections and influence in the right circles.
One letter from Tim hints at Marjorie playing more than just a supportive role during the war. He fears for her health and has heard she lives on a train; Marjorie worked as a nurse on an ambulance train and earned medals for her service during this time.
By 1919, the marriage between Marjorie and Guy was in difficulties. Despite considering divorcing Guy, who had taken a mistress and retreated into alcoholism (possibly as a result of being injured during the war), Marjorie remained married to him until his death in 1928. She served as Mayor of Warwick for two terms (1929-1930 and 1931) and was also chief magistrate for the borough.
Marjorie later took up residence in France and stayed until war broke out with Germany for a second time. She returned to England and went to London to help with the war effort. In 1942, she had to endure not only a diagnosis of cancer, but also the news that her son Ambrose, a flight lieutenant, was missing presumed dead. Despite undergoing an operation, Marjorie died in 1943.
The Duke of Hollywood: Charles Guy Fulke Greville, 7th Earl of Warwick
Marjorie and Guy’s eldest son, Charles Guy Fulke Greville (1911-1984) was known to his family and friends as ‘Fulkie’. He was the last Earl of Warwick to live at Warwick Castle. He was educated at Eton and at Chillon College in Switzerland, succeeding to the earldom aged only 16, following the death of his father.
After a short stint in the Grenadier Guards, he married his second cousin, Rose Bingham. The couple had one son, David, but their life took an unexpected turn when Lord Warwick was talent-spotted by the film director Mervyn LeRoy in 1935. He travelled to the United States in summer 1936, where he became the first British aristocrat to star in a Hollywood movie. In October that year, he was contracted to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Attempting to distance himself from his noble background, he used the stage name Michael Brooke, however he was subsequently given nicknames by the local press alluding to his title, including the ‘Duke of Hollywood’ and ‘Warwick the Filmmaker’, a play on words referencing a medieval Earl of Warwick, Richard Neville, who was known as ‘Warwick the Kingmaker’. Lord Warwick was released from his contract after six months, prompting him to sue MGM. His attempt was unsuccessful, and after a short period he was contracted to Paramount, and then went freelance.
Lord Warwick was well-known for socialising in celebrity circles, and was famed for a string of high-profile affairs, having been linked with notable names such as Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich. On 14 February 1938, he and Rose divorced. He was given another chance at acting when he was offered a role in The Dawn Patrol, in which he starred alongside David Niven and Errol Flynn. This was to be his only mainstream movie before his life as Michael Brooke ended; with the outbreak of the Second World War, he decided to return to the United Kingdom to serve in the Merchant Navy. In 1942, he married Mary Kathleen Bell, with whom he adopted a daughter, Georgina, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1949.
Meanwhile, Lord Warwick had been supporting his lifestyle by selling parts of the family’s art collection. Drawings by Gainsborough, Rembrandt and others were auctioned by Sothebys in 1936, while a selection of Georgian silver was auctioned by Christies in 1943. He held the title of Mayor of Warwick from 1951-1952 and was a Deputy Lieutenant of Warwickshire from 1952. In 1955, he turned his interests abroad when he purchased homes in Switzerland, Italy and France. In 1959, he sold 5100 acres of land in Warwickshire for £500,000, having dismissed Warwick Castle as ‘a white elephant and nobody wants it’ in the Daily Mail the year before.
In 1963, Lord Warwick married again, this time to a Belgian concert promoter, Janine Angèle Josephine Detry de Marès. By this time, he was dividing his time between Switzerland, France, Italy, and London. To avoid death duties, he transferred the family estate to his son David, Lord Brooke, in 1967, eventually settling in Rome to avoid paying British income taxes. Lord Brooke sold many items from Warwick Castle, leading to concerns that the items were being sold into private hands. The Canaletto paintings of the castle were sold to a dealer for £1,000,000, which alerted the art world to Brooke’s scheme of breaking up the collection, as more than twenty other paintings by masters had already been sold and exported. Despite scrutiny, it was announced in October 1978 that Lord Brooke had sold Warwick Castle to Madame Tussauds for £1,500,000, which caused a public confrontation between the father and son. Meanwhile, the castle’s archives were sold to Warwickshire County Council. Lord Warwick died in Rome in 1984 and was buried at St Mary’s Church, Warwick.
Find Out More
To find out more details about the project and the Greville Family of Warwick Castle collection, search for the hashtag #WarwickCastleWednesday on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The team also produce videos! The Warwick Podcastle can be found on the Heritage and Culture Warwickshire YouTube channel.
You can also find out more by dropping the County Record Office an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.