The Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion

Recognising the contribution of Wales in contemporary society

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home > Transactions > Volume 20 - 2014 > ‘The Country of my Heart’: Lord Howard de Walden and Wales

‘The Country of my Heart’: Lord Howard de Walden and Wales

The subject of this lecture is the eighth Lord Howard de Walden, or Thomas Evelyn Scott-Ellis (1880–1946), dramatist, librettist, essayist, linguist, medievalist, actor, poet, and painter – a Renaissance man. He was also a billionaire, professional national fencing champion, owner of Haymarket Theatre, hunter of wild animals on his Kenyan estate, rally racing driver, and owner of race horses, yachts, and estates. Here was a very English lord who, in 1911, on the occasion of his engagement to Margherita von Raalte, was described as ‘England’s richest bachelor peer’, and his Marylebone estate as ‘a veritable Eldorado’. My aim will be to trace this deeply English aristocrat’s determined attempt from 1911 onwards to create a modern Welsh identity, not only for himself, but also for Wales, ‘the country of my heart’– a phrase to which I shall return.

That this lecture is delivered at 11 Chandos Street, Cavendish Square, London, has a certain appropriateness, since the location forms part of the Lord Howard de Walden estate. And Lord Howard de Walden himself was of course for many years a major player and patron in the history and management of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion. At the Annual General Meeting of the Society on 30 January 1936, it was noted that ‘the Rt. Hon. Lord Howard de Walden has indicated his willingness to accept nomination for the Presidency’.1 Members of the Council felt that ‘from the service Lord Howard de Walden has already rendered to cultural causes in Wales, and the pleasure with which he accepted the nomination […] the Society could find no person who could better fill this high office’.2

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