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Name: DELAMERE, Gwladys Helen 'Glady', Lady

image of individualimage of individual

Nee: Beckett, dau. of Hon. Rupert Evelyn Beckett (bro. of 3rd Baron Grimthorpe)

Birth Date: 1897

Death Date: 22 Feb 1943 Nairobi, stroke

First Date: 1928

Last Date: 1943

Profession: lived at 'Broomhill' a beautiful estate at Kiambu, 200 acres of coffee and 650 acres arable

Area: Loresho

Married: 1. 8 Dec 1920 Sir Charles Markham 2nd Bt. (div. 1928) (1899-1952); 2. 28 May 1928 Lord (Hugh) Delamere (3rd Baron) (1870-1931)

Children: 1. Charles John (2 July 1924-2006); Mary (1921); Rose (Hodson) (1926)

Book Reference: Nellie, Midday Sun, Debrett, Markham, Lillibullero, Verandah, Mischief, White Man, Hut, Jambo 72, Nicholls, Ziegler, Markham, Rhodora, Burke

General Information:

Markham - Sir Charles and Lady Markham were both unfaithful to each other. In 1927 she divorced him and married Lord Delamere in 1928.
Nellie - 'Hers was a compelling personality. Her wiry, black hair surmounted a chalk-white complexion; her voice was deep and rather husky; the general effect was positive, forceful, dynamic. She had first come to Kenya on safari as the wife of a rich baronet, Sir Charles Markham. After the marriage came apart she returned on a visit, and espoused Lord Delamere, some thirty years her senior, whose son was her contemporary. This was in 1928. D. died three years later. At Loresho, Glady entertained many lively friends, and gave excellent parties. Also she took a vigorous part in local politics, and was to become a somewhat improbable Mayor of Nairobi. Every minute of the day was filled with some activity. She seemed to be running away from something - perhaps her own company. She was not one of those cut out to live alone and should have remarried, but the man she loved and was her lover eluded her. This was her tragedy.
Midday Sun - (1933) - 'Glady was good at putting people of all sorts at their ease. She had a striking appearance - chalk-white skin, jet-black wiry hair, dark-brown eyes - and gave out a sense of vitality, and of tenseness like a coiled spring. A throaty chuckle and a sense of gaiety softened what would otherwise have been a rather formidable presence. She was welcoming, unpompous and possessed a great store of energy which, at this time, had insufficient outlet; later, when she was elected Mayor of Nairobi, it found that outlet and she proved to be a hard-working and efficient Mayor. Tania Blixen wrote of her that she was like 'a painted wooden doll'. She struck me as the reverse of doll-like, being so animated and unpredictable. People reacted positively to Glady; either they liked her or they did not. 'I remember her', her youngest daughter was to write years later, 'as somebody who lit up a room as she walked in, smelling exotically of Chanel No. 5, usually with a gardenia pinned to her dress and often smoking a Turkish cigarette'. Naturally I stood in awe of her - she was 35, twice married, sophisticated and self-assured ............. ' 'her home at Loresho, a coffee farm about 6 miles outside Nairobi where she lived with her 3 children by her previous marriage to Sir Charles Markham. ........... Daphne Moore, wife of the new Chief Secretary in 1929 said Glady was 'charming and clever and suggests Elinor Glyn and sofas strewn with tiger skins; the cats in the village say that she has never recovered from her great success with the Prince of Wales.' ............. On New Year's Eve, 1932, Glady Delamere gave a party at Muthaiga Club which included the Byrnes. 'The Haldemans were there. Lady Idina (formerly Hay, formerly Gordon, formerly Wallace) got herself introduced to H.E. and the whole club held their sides to see Kenya's most notorious vamp clasped in the arms of the King's representative who was apparently making the most of it.' .................. Loresho provided me [Elspeth Huxley] with an ideal base. It was a comfortable, creeper-covered stone bungalow with the usual deep veranda, built around a central quadrangle with a fig tree, sacred to the Kikuyu, in the middle. Glady had her own separate cottage, and a nanny with her 3 children lived in another. ........... Glady had been 30 years younger than Delamere, whom she married as his second wife in 1928 when he had less than 4 years to live. Glady was a very hospitable person with a wide and varied collection of friends, and you never knew whom you might find breakfasting on the veranda, having arrived overnight from some distant farm or outpost. She had the art of mixing together different kinds of people and keeping conversation on the boil. In argument she could be aggressive, but then she would disarm her guests with a deep throaty chuckle and a sudden unexpected turn of phrase. ..... Like Joan Grigg, with whom she had been friends from childhood, Glady was much concerned with good works, as well as with social life and local politics. ...... She was canvassing for a seat on Nairobi's Municipal Council .... was duly elected in 1934 by 236 votes to 80. She became an able, energetic councillor, and four years later was elected mayor, and then twice re-elected to that position. Welfare among Africans in Nairobi's shanty-towns, and a charity that helped distressed Europeans, also took up a lot of Glady's time. ............ Glady as Lady Bountiful weighing African babies at a welfare clinic does not at all accord with her image as others have presented it. She has been depicted as a bossy, bitchy and emotionally unbalanced woman, endlessly carousing at Muthaiga Club with Happy Valleyites, and so possessively in love with Lord Erroll that she was even suspected of having shot him - 'He was her man, and he done her wrong.' This may have been a true portrayal at the time of the Erroll murder case in 1942 - I last saw Glady in 1938 - but I doubt it. When I knew her, while she certainly caroused quite often at Muthaiga Club, the Happy Valley was not her scene. Joss Erroll had casual affairs with a great many women and Glady was probably among them, but he was not the man she loved and hoped to marry when he was free to do so; he was separated but not then divorced from his wife. When war grew imminent, Alistair left EA and she realised that the affair was over for good. When he got his freedom, he married someone else. Her antidote to despair was non-stop war-work, mainly in canteens for soldiers and airmen who flocked to Nairobi when it became the Allied base for the Ethiopian campaign. In this she was tireless, her life became frenetic and if at times she seemed unbalanced, this was bnecause she needed to fill every minute and did not dare to stop. She burnt herself out. A stroke followed and she died, aged 45, in 1943. Had Glady been quite the over-bearing and promiscuous character some of those who never knew her believed her to be, I doubt whether she would have enjoyed the friendship of the Taylors, Charles and Kit. They were pillars of respectability.
Markham - Sir Charles and Lady Markham were both unfaithful to each other. In 1927 she divorced him and married Lord Delamere in 1928 ............  When the Prince of Wales visited in 1928  and stayed with Lord Francis Scott at Deloraine - Glady Delamere spent 2 hours in Scott's garden with Edward P.!!!   
Lillibullero - 1933 - I [E.A.T. Dutton] stayed at Loresho, some 5 miles on the other side of town. My beloved hostess, G..... D....., all fire and grace, met me at the aerodrome and straightway charmed away the intervening years; with her, long absences were no longer than a moment's break in enchanted talk  
Verandah - Nairobi Pageant - the brainchild of Gladys, Lady Delamere .
Mischief - widow of Hugh Delamere. In 1920 against the wishes of her friends, she had married Sir Charles Markham, who was younger than herself and considered a waster. The marriage lasted 7 years with some conspicuous unfaithfulness on both sides. ........ She married Hugh Delamere in 1928, 3 years before he died. She was considered very attractive, with her pale skin and jet black hair, although not by Karen Blixen who described, in addition to her 'odd' looks, a fierce streak of recklessness in her behaviour. ....... By 1940 she had become somewhat more unbalanced, partly, it was thought, from the effect of a serious bout of typhoid, and from unhappiness in love. She had lost her looks; her face had turned puffy with drink and she had taken to wearing elaborate headresses. She had become exhibitionistic, touchy and unpredictable; loyal at one moment, she would cut you dead the next. At her birthday party at Muthaiga Club, she threw a plate of bacon and eggs at another woman, and had to be removed. She was equally violent on the subject of race, publicly insulting a woman called Sybil Martineau for having 'African' blood and leading the Muthaiga members to bar the Aga Khan ......... from coming to the club. Blunt, autocratic, perceptive, with a strident air and a sharp tongue. Gwladys, now the Mayor of Nairobi, had become the repository of 'good advice', the breaker and maker of matches. Her feelings for Erroll were now expressed in matronly possessiveness. In general she found it difficult to tolerate younger and prettier women. .............. Mayor of Nairobi. Broughton had known her well during her first marriage in England and considered her a close friend. Gwladys was the Tsarina of Nairobi social life. ............. According to Cyril Connolly she had had affairs with - Lord Erroll, Alastair Gibb, Denzl, Duke of Gloucester and the Prince of Wales. White Man - in 1929 she took over the management of Delamere's hotel at Iringa, and made it pay its way ........ in 1930 she went to England and Delamere wrote every day ..…
Jambo 72 - It is sad that writers of recent years with no first hand knowledge have chosen to quote only the racy items from gossip or interviews. Justice has therefore not been done to some people, one of whom was Glady, as she was known to her friends. No doubt she enjoyed a good party but she was a tireless worker who was not only President of the EAWL but was also the first woman Mayor of Nairobi, being twice re-elected to that position. She devoted her energy to helping others - welfare amongst Africans and a charity that helped distressed Europeans also took up a lot of her time. During the war her home became a Convalescent Home for military personnel. She also ran canteens and arranged for up-country visits of naval and military personnel on leave. As Mayor she made it her business personally to investigate any adverse reports of Council services. Although she knew most of the people who frequented the so-called Happy Valley, she was herself a person of far greater substance and social conscience. Those who really knew her remember her concern for others and her generosity. When ordered to South Africa for a holiday for health reasons she spent much of it contacting the families of soldiers she had met in the canteens to give them news of their relatives. As a mother she always made time for her children who held her in tremendous affection and esteem. She literally burnt herself out and died of a stroke at the age of 45 in 1943. At her funeral service the Cathedral was full and many grown people - men and women - were in tears. She was buried next to Lord Delamere on a rocky outcrop at Soysambu.
Nicholls - Nairobi, too, grew in size during the war. The town was presided over by Gwladys ('Glady'), Lady Delamere, Lord Delamere's widow now re-elected as its mayor. She flung herself into war work with great energy, while also enjoying evenings in the Muthaiga Club. This proved too much for her health - a first stroke left her partially paralysed and a second led to her death on 22 February 1943. So untiring and selfless had been her war work that her cortege was followed by scores of private cars to her place of burial.
Zeigler - Edward VIII - Dudley Ward Papers - [on boat going to Africa] - the Princes enjoyed a preview of the seamier side of Kenyan life through the presence on board of Gladys, Lady Delamere. The Prince admitted to Freda Dudley Ward that he saw a lot of Lady Delamere, 'but only faute de mieux  ……. I guess she's a bit keen but as I just couldn't be less she has to be content with a little dancing for exercise.' He protested too much or too early; Gladdy Delamere was to play a conspicuous part in his sojourn in Nairobi. ……………. Revelry by night and high jinks at that mecca of the more social settlers, the Muthaiga Club. 'The Prince never likes going to bed before 3 a.m. I do wish I was in England,' he [Lascelles] remarked plainively to Lady Grigg. Lady Delamere was at the centre of the merry-making, throwing herself at the Prince and, in the view of most beholders, making a considerable impression. At supper at the Muthaiga Club she bombarded him with pieces of bread, incidentally giving Iisak Dinesen a black eye with a misdirected volley, and finished up by rushing at him, overturning his chair and rolling him around on the floor. 'I do not find that kind of thing in the least amusing,' commented Isak Dinesen.
Markham - competed with Beryl Markham for the attention of Edward, Prince of Wales in 1928
Gazette - Voters List 1936 - Lady Gladys Delamere, Loresho, Kabete

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