Who is who, or dramatis personae

There are so many people mentioned in these letters that it would be too much interruption to describe them as you read. So I am doing a reference page here and for some of the most important I will indicate a link back to this page the first times that they are mentioned.

(N.B. I am still working on this page)

Family and relations

Mummy – Leslie Lonsdale

Freddy or Daddy – Frederick Lonsdale

Mab, My mother’s sister. Geoff Poole, her first husband

Molly, my father’s sister, married to Anthony Shawcross

Katta, my father’s sister, married to Dick de la Mare, son of Walter de la Mare

Giles de la Mare, Katta’s son, my father’s nephew

Aunt Isy (Izzie) Lady Isabel Margesson, my father’s maternal aunt , married to uncle Mag.

David Margesson, my father’s first cousin and Baldwin’s chief Whip. Son of Aunt Isy, later conservative MP and then Minister of War

Vere, his brother, disapproved of by Aunt Isy

Francie Margesson, married David Margesson

Gay Margesson, their daughter, married Martin Charteris.

Frank Margesson, their son

Jan, their daughter

Nanny, Old Nan. My father’s nanny, by then retired, came to stay often to help my mother.  We adored her.  She lived in Brighton and we used to go on holiday there to stay with her.

Dedie, my grandmother’s lady’s maid.

Jack and Frankie’s children: Thomas, Rose and, post-war, Kate.

Runton, seaside family house shared by my father with his 2 sisters, near Cromer

Close friends

The first group contains the pre war friends from school and social life. These are from a fairly rich and privileged section of society. My parents, though certainly not poor, would not themselves have been described as rich. However, my father went to school at Eton (where his father had been a master before he became Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge), and thus many of his friends were rich. My mother used to go around everywhere with my grandfather who was a playwright. He had been born of poor parents, but somehow acquired a rather aristocratic manner and was courted, as successful writers often are, by the rich and famous. In this way my mother became used to a rather high life, which she enjoyed before the war.

The chief friends in this group were
Peter Cazalet ( at Eton with my father and later in life a race horse trainer, including of the Queen Mother’s steeple chasers)

Leonora Cazalet, known as Snorky. She had been Leonora Wodehouse, and was the adored stepdaughter of P G Wodehouse (one of his books was dedicated to ‘Leonora, queen of her species’). My mother had been at school with her. It was through the Cazalets that my parents met, and their first house, the Wood House, designed by Walter Gropius of Bauhaus fame, was built on land bought from the Cazalets in Kent.

Buddy – Edward Cazalet, son of Leonora) and Peter.

SheShe – Sheran Cazalet, now Lady Hornby

Anthony Mildmay (Lord Mildmay), lived with the Cazalets. Later a leading amateur steeple chaser.

Thelma Cazalet-Keir, Peter’s sister, married to David Keir

Mary Dunn (Lady Mary Dunn). I was brought up to understand that Mary was without rival the most attractive woman of her generation and set. She was not strictly beautiful, but had the kind of charm which is apparent even to small children, and we adored her. She was married to Philip Dunn.

Peggy Dunne, another beauty and my godmother. Peggy lived in Warwickshire at a lovely house called Chadshunt, was a great solace to my mother and bailed her out with money loans when the going got tough.

Phil Dunne, Peggy’s husband . A Commando in the war

Coney Jarvis, married to Ralph Jarvis, who had been at Eton with my father, who was best man at their wedding. Coney was also very beautiful, and blonde, whereas Peggy was dark. My mother was very beautiful too, in a chic kind of way, perhaps less striking than Coney and Mary, and the three of them must have sent shock waves through Moulton Agricultural Institute when they arrived there at the beginning of the war.

Tortor- Victoria Gilmour one of my mother’s closest friends.

Gibby and Molly Debenham, who were staying with them when war was declared in 1939 and also when peace was declared in 1945.

Plummy and Ethel – PG Wodehouse and his wife. Ethel was mother of Leonora Cazalet, My father was one of the last English people to see them in the war.

Sir Wm Wiseman. Distinguished  writer and friend of Freddy Lonsdale

Buck – Earl de la Warr, farmer, politician, friend

Harry Sackville, Buck de la Warr’s son

Kitty Sackville, daughter of Buck de la Warr, later m Frank Giles.

Fisher’s Gate, house of Lord de la Warr

Hinch, Viscount Hinchingbrooke, son of Earl of Sandwich (? In some way related to the Margessons?)

Lady Sandwich – Hinch’s mother. May have been a relation of some kind

Oliver Stanley, married to Maureen. Ex-minister and both were my mother’s great friends (via her father, Freddy Lonsdale)

Gerry Koch de Goorend, a business man friend

Victor Cazalet – brother of Peter, Tory MP later killed in air smash

Serge Chermayeff, architect, living in America

Gropius, a founder of the Bauhaus school of architecture

Maxwell Fry, architect and friend

Molly Debenham, wife of Gibbie, close friend of my father, psychoanalyst, now Sir Gilbert Debenham

Geoffrey and Barbara Horn. Friends

Emerald Cunard, famous hostess, a great friend of my father

Baba Metcalfe, social figure, friend of Freddy Lonsdale’s

Billy Rootes. Sir William Rootes of Hillman cars. My mother was his secretary before she married

Garrett , Earl of Drogheda, friend from Eton, worked on Financial News (later head of FT, chairman of Covent Garden etc). Joan, his wife. Derry, their son

Hannah and Rob, Hudson. Friends from before the war. Rob was Minister of Agriculture

Brendan Bracken, Minister of Information, owner of Financial News

Adrienne Allen, actress

Eddie Sackville West, writer and old friend. Later prominent music critic

Ronnie Squire, well known actor

Mark Norman, son of Monty Norman, of Bank of England fame

Julian Sorsbie– a man to whom my father lent a large sum of money (£5,000) and who failed to repay it. Continuing saga.

George and Anne Martelli. G Martelli was a journalist
Dick Watney – old friend of my mother’s
John and Nancy Hare – close friends. John became Lord Blakenham

Johnnie and Madeleine Miller –  Johnnie wrote for a US newspaper
Oliver and Maureen Stanley (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Stanley)

Peckham friends

‘The Drs’. This referred to Dr Donald Scott Williamson, known as Dod, and Dr Innes Pearse, known as Pete. Together they founded the Peckham Pioneer Health Centre. This experiment in community health attracted Jack as a young man, when he had just become a socialist as a result of the General Strike, and he put half his capital into its development. He then gave up his job as a banker and worked at Peckham instead. Frankie supported him in this, and my brother and I were born under the aegis of the Centre. Such children are known as Peckham babies.  Dod’s brother Bruce was a heart specialist, and  gave advice about my brother Thomas, who was born with a heart condition.

Anni and Haschi: Anni Noll, a German doctor who had been told she must not treat Jews. One of the Peckham doctors, specialising in the care and treatment of mothers and children. Later she married Haschi Wasserman. She was my mother’s close friend and adviser about children.

Jan and Dave: Jan was a painter friend of Jack’s from before his marriage and Dave was the brother of Dod, Dr Donald Scott Williamson who ran peckham health centre with his wife, Dr Innes Pearce, known as Pete

Jan and Dave and anni and haschi spent alot of time with Frankie during the war.

Robin Bolton, a doctor at Peckham

Lucy Crocker (later married Philip Pearce and moved to Ireland where they founded the Shanagarry Pottery). Much loved social worker at Peckham.

Jan Williamson, married to Dave, brother of Dod, Dr Scott Williamson

Bill Alexander, a Peckham friend, commander of the International Brigade in Spain

Mary Langman, a Peckham helper and supporter. Later founder of Whole Food

The Wood House

Walter Gropius – designed and constructed the Wood House with the help of

Maxwell Fry

Durling, builder of Wood House

Webb, gardener at the Wood House

Mrs. Saunders looked after the cottage at Ivy Hatch where Jack and Frankie lived while the Wood House was being built

Ronald, her son

Mr. Ball, bank manager

Mrs. Mandelbaum and Freda, both refugees to whom my parents had given temporary accommodation before the war

Shipbourne Grange, Cazalet house, from where Jack and Frankie were married


People Jack meets in the army

Transport Services – my father’s employers pre war

Constant, an army colleague

Bob Laycock, married to Angie Dudley Ward. Became very distinguished command leader and later  general.

Reggie Fellowes, later Brigadier, my father’s CO

Humphrey Lomer, Grenadier Guards posted with my father

Randolph – Churchill, son of Winston

Shellaker, colleague of my father in France

Shearer, a colleague repatrioted for drunkeness

Bos, Bosworth Monck,  war colleague,  became a great friend

Denis Healey, who became a friend and political ally after the war. Gave the address at Jack’s funeral in 1998.

Nigel Seeley, old friend

Jerry Koch (Koch de Gooreynd)

Gerry Wellesley, uncle of the then Duke of Wellington.

‘Mary’ Coningham – an Australian who had met Frankie and her family at Birchington where they lived at one point. She had been a favourite of his aged 12, and he now crops up from time to time with a ‘good war’, ending as Air Vice Marshall, or perhaps better.

Referred to though not necessarily close friends:

Christopher Sykes,

Peter Fleming

Moulton, Warwickshire, Wilmcote, the farm, broadcasting

Lavendon – Mary Dunn’s Farm

Moulton, Northamptonshire Farm Institute

Mr. Stewart – head of the above

Mr. Lindsay – assistant to Mr. Stewart

Miss Strang – Moulton

Cecil Evans –Lord de la Warr’s agent and farm manager,  very helpful

Coney Jarvis wife of Ralph, at Eton with Jack. With Mary Dunn she accompanied my mother to the Agricultural Institute at the beginning of the war

Mr. Clarke solicitor

Bryant – solicitor

GH Gypsy Hall Farm

Clyde Higgs successful local Warwickshire farmer

Sir George Stapledon – Stapes – a  grassland expert

Dorrie Stapledon, wife of Sir George, or Stapes

Jones Farm Manager at GH. My mother did not get on with him, finally sacked him and later found that he had been cheating her.

Carling  new farm manager to replace Jones. My mother really wanted to run the farm herself but did not yet feel competent. Eventually Carling went, on good terms, and she got full control.

The Wheeldons. Mrs. Wheeldon ran the local village shop in Wilmcote. Her son Cyril later came to work at GH

Nora, sister of Mrs. Higley of Wilmcote. Came to help my mother and look after us in the war

Mrs. Higley., a villager of Wilmcote who lived opposite and befriended us

Walters, agricultural adviser

William Davis, ? War Committee and worked at Dodwell, ? a war committee farm

Margetts – estate agent

Highman,  farm worker and later foreman

Amy Moore, secretary at Peckham, helped at Gypsy hall

Wilkes, agricultural adviser

Pattison. Pat, county organiser at first and later close farming adviser to my mother. He became a longstanding friend of the family.

Green, BBC producer

Molly , looked after children

Marjorie, a land girl

Wells Coates, architects

Malcolm Messer, editor of the Farmer’s Weekly

Mary Day also of FW, married Malcolm Messer

Price, the last and best cowman

Clough Williams Ellis



A Woman's War