The Anglo-Dutch Moment: the Bentinck dukes of Portland

The year 1688-1689 has been called by historians the ‘Anglo-Dutch Moment’, as the year when the ideas of English and Dutch limited monarchy came together in the person of William, Prince of Orange: King William III. Over three centuries later, one family, the Bentincks, still benefit from this relatively brief merging of national interests. HansContinue reading “The Anglo-Dutch Moment: the Bentinck dukes of Portland”

Princes of Powys Fadog and Maelor

Until very recently I had never heard of Maelor, despite it being just over an hour’s drive from my home in Manchester. I’ve now become slightly obsessed with its curious history, as an exclave of Welshness jutting into the English countryside. For a small geographical space, it is complex, with two roughly equal parts: ‘Saxon’Continue reading “Princes of Powys Fadog and Maelor”

Sackville dukes of Dorset

The Dukedom of Dorset is mostly forgotten today, a title that had only five holders between 1720 and 1843. Yet their surname, Sackville, is well remembered, particularly as borne by Vita Sackville-West, one of the leaders of the Bloomsbury Group of the early 20th century. The surname also probably inspired Tolkien in his choice ofContinue reading “Sackville dukes of Dorset”

The Herberts & the Duke of Powis

Last summer I drove the lush green valleys of eastern Wales, in the region that was once the ancient Kingdom of Powys, ruled in the early Middle Ages by the Gwerthrynion dynasty until the 850s, then as divided principalities. As we passed by the market town of Welshpool, one of the former princely capitals, weContinue reading “The Herberts & the Duke of Powis”

Princes of Battenberg

In a dramatic intimate moment of the first episode of the new season of ‘The Crown’, Prince Philip says to his daughter Princess Anne, “A Battenberg refuses to give in”. Who were the Battenbergs and why did this sentiment apply to recent members of the House of Windsor? More than just the namesake of aContinue reading “Princes of Battenberg”

Dukes of Westminster

What do rural Cheshire and the most fashionable neighbourhoods in West London have in common? Both have been part of the extensive portfolio of the Grosvenor family for centuries. The dukedom of Westminster may be relatively new (1874), but their development of Mayfair and Belgravia stretches back to the early 18th century, and their controlContinue reading “Dukes of Westminster”

Dukes of Bridgewater

When it comes to name swapping within the British aristocracy, the Egertons are champions. At various times their surname has been Malpas or Grey or Tatton, or more recently Leveson-Gore or Grosvenor. In fact, the dynasty’s founders used the name Le Belward before marrying the heiress of the barony of Malpas in the southwestern cornerContinue reading “Dukes of Bridgewater”