Skip to content ↓

View entry

Back to search results

Name: RICHARDSON, Sylvia Durani 'The Afghan Princess', Mrs

image of individual

Nee: Martineau, dau of Alfred Edward Martineau of India and Lassia Selina née Warburton, sister of Alfred Arthur Durani Martineau and Audrey Edith Durani North

Birth Date: 2 Mar 1910 Delhi

Death Date: 24 Oct 1994 Nyeri

First Date: 1931

Last Date: 1994

Profession: First went to Kenya with a film crew. Returned after WW2 with her second husband to farm near Nyeri, Bonanza Farm, Kitale, Kedong Valley

Area: Mweiga, Nyeri

Married: 1. 1932 Lt. Cdr. Grenville Mathias 'Punch' Temple, DSO, DFC (1897-1965, div. c. 1940); 2. In Wesminster 1943 Derek Charles Houghton Richardson b. 28 June 1887 Lisburn, Ireland, d. 1975 Kenya

Children: None

Book Reference: Women 1/95, Markham, Burke, Barnes, First Wheel, Mischief, Stud

General Information:

Women - Obit. - Sylvia Richardson, a well-known figure in the expatriate scene of Kenya for over half a century and the subject of a documentary film on British television, died at her home, Kilimathego at the foot of Mount Kenya on 24th October in her 85th year. Her death signals the snapping of yet another link with the country's former Colonial Days. Born Sylvia Martineau, she was the daughter of a British High Court Judge in the Indian Civil Service, and his wife descended from the then ruling house in Afghanistan. Sylvia had no children.
First coming to Kenya in 1931 with a film company, Sylvia married Lieut. Commander "Punch" Temple, RN Rtd. They farmed at Mweiga for a few years until the marriage was dissolved. After returning to England, she married Col. Derek Riichardson MC and Bar, one time regimental mentor to the young Duke of Gloucester.
Following the War, they moved to Kenya in 1947 and bought the small farm, Kilimathego near Nyeri. There the couple played a leading part in local activities, and in their perilously isolated farm, they stoutly "held the fort" during the trouble known in Kenya as "The Emergency". The late Col. Hilary Hook, a close friend lived nearby. Derek died in 1975, and Sylvia, with her step-daughter-in-law, June, lived on at Kilimathego where, together, they entertained a wide circle of friends and relations. She balanced a flair for excoriating criticism of those who failed to reach her high standard with fiercely supportive loyalty to friends.
Often known as "The Afghan Princess", Sylvia could inspire both deep affection and nervous awe, but seldom neutral feelings. The programme on Sylvia, "My African Farm", shown on BBC Home TV in 1987 conveys a good picture. We see a hawk-like supremely "English" old lady, moulded in the days of Empire. One who, in her own imperiously idiosyncratic way and with the affectionate if occasionally strained indulgence of the African community, has adjusted to the bewildering change in the country in which she loved to live. The passing of Sylvia Richardson marks a further milestone in the fading of the old Kenya. She will be nostalgically missed by many of all races.
Markham - Christopher Langlands was running a milk delivery service from Mutunguru ranch next to Seremai for his hosts, Commander Grenville Temple and a childhood friend, Sylvia his beautiful wife. Sylvia was a 'Durani', daughter of the ruling Afghan family and hence her nickname 'the Afghan Princess' ..…
Barnes - St. Peter's Nyeri Cemetery - Sylvia Durani Richardson 1910-1944, beloved wife of Col. Derek Richardson
First Wheel - "… She was a very beautiful girl. She was with three men, and I was to learn she always was with men. …….. Sylvia, the Afghan Princess. I thought what a splendid description. And what a most beautiful Afghan Princess. ……. I [Bunny Allen] talked with her a little and found her rich, yet resonant voice of beauty like the rest of her. In a word, I became one of her many admirers. Of her two constant companions, it was said that each one of them wanted to marry her. It also was said that she was equally fond of them both, could not make up her mind which to settle on and finally tossed a coin for her decision! Be that as it may, she married one and lived happy for a while after. However, what was important, she stayed with us so that I could go on admiring her beauty and her splendid character.
When she finally disappeared back to Europe - or Afghanistan? - I cannot rightly recall but when I got caught up in the War years she also was on the same caper. However, when that was all over, how happy I was to see Sylvia return to Kenya with her most delightful husband, Derek Richardson. ………….. Everyone liked Derek, just as everyone loved Sylvia.
EA Stud Book 1954 - Pigs - Large Whites - A.W. Martineau, Kitale
Mischief - accused by Gwladys, Lady Delamere, of having African blood.
Commander Grenville Temple and a childhood friend, Sylvia his beautiful wife. Sylvia was a 'Durani', daughter of the ruling Afghan family and hence her nickname 'the Afghan Princess'
Barnes - Kitale Cemetery - Grenville Mathias Temple - died 26 Jul 1965
Barnes - Kitale Cemetery - Meriol Hendry Temple - died 1 Dec 1966. [2nd marriage?]

Back to search results