The Family Tree of Fair Rosamomd and Princess Diana have roots at Blenheim palace, as does the Hart family. Though it can not be proven Ann Hart Hull had children from whom Royal Rosamond descends – at this time – my family is forever enjoined to the Legends of Rosamond that abound with speculations. When I connect Rosamond to the Holy Grail, then I will own all these legends that have come into my family in modern times. Fair Rosamond, and the seven Hart sisters, will be forever entwined.
The woman in the video looks looks like my Muse, Rena Christiansen, who will be my model for the painting I am doing of Rosamond Clifford.
Let us not leave out my kindred, Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, who is in the Peerage. She may be kin to the Hart sisters and Princess Diana. Surely my late sister, the artist known as ‘Rosamond’, and Liz would like to be in the Windsor Family Tree. Liz could have starred as Fair Rosamond – and Jeannette Hart! This is an epic story.
Henrietta, 2nd Duchess of Marlborough
During the war, the 1st Duke of Marlborough lost his beloved son and heir to smallpox. His wife was beside herself with grief. After Marlborough’s son had died, an Act of Parliament established that in the event of a lack of a male heir the title would go through the female line. Marlborough’s eldest daughter Henrietta therefore inherited the title on her father’s death. Henrietta died without a male heir so the title went to the family of her sister Anne. By the time Henrietta died Anne was also dead so the title went to Anne’s eldest remaining son Charles Spencer, who became the 3rd Duke in 1733. This meant that the Churchill name was now lost. It was brought back to the family by the 5th Duke who, by royal licence, was allowed to add Churchill to his name Spencer. Since then the family has been Spencer-Churchill. Charles Spencer had a younger brother John who remained at Althorp. From him the Earls of Spencer descend, and Lady Diana Spencer, the Princess of Wales, was therefore a direct descendent of the 1st Duke of Marlborough.
“Fair Rosamund’s Well” in the park at Blenheim Palace, is named for a mistress of Henry II. The well is certainly in one of the classiest locations I’ve visited, being just down from the Grand Bridge across the lake from the house. You don’t need to pay for entrance to the house – “House and Gardens” means the formal gardens, and whilst the house is certainly worth a visit, just paying for the grounds is much cheaper.
The simplest way to find the well is to enter by the pedestrian entrance in the centre of Woodstock. This is hidden at the end of the street, past The Bear, whose lunches are excellent, if expensive, and Saint Mary Magdalene’s church, which is also worth a visit. From the entrance, walk along the metalled path round the lake until you reach the Great Bridge. If the weather is wet, you’ll be able to identify another spring in the bank on your right near the little house. Water from this seems to travel under the path and well up to flood the grass on the left.
Once you reach the bridge, face it and look to your right. Pick your way down the bank. Walk about a hundred yards along the edge of the lake and you’ll find it easily. If you know what to look for, you can just see the well from the house; certainly there’s a beautiful view of the house and bridge from the area of the well.
The well is a spring that issues into a large shallow cistern with formal flagstones around the edge, reminiscent of Cerne although significantly larger. Whilst the flags may be part of Capability Brown’s designs, an earlier sketch implies an enclosure and that the well may have been used for curative purposes in the past – certainly the water has. The well is fenced and the gate is kept locked, but with a little ingenuity it’s possible to photograph it without the fence intruding. The overflow is via an underground pipe into the lake.
“Fair Rosamund” was Rosamund de Cllifford, born about 1140, died 1175 or 1176. She was probably the daughter of Walter de Clifford of the family of Fitz-Ponce and may well have been born near Hay-on-Wye. There are accounts from 1165/6 for building work for enclosing the spring. At the time it was known as Everswell, quite possibly because the local legend says that (unusually for the area) the spring runs freely even in dry weather, enhancing its reputation for curative waters. The name “Rosamund’s Well” is not mentioned until the sixteenth century, although the structures around the spring were known as “Rosamund’s Chamber” as early as the thirteenth.
This sketch (Bodleian Library ms Wood 276b f43v) by John Aubrey denotes the area as “Rosamund’s Bower”. It dates from before the landscaping and his annotations indicate the ruins of a “noble” gatehouse or tower at the top right, with a path leading to the “Three Baths in Trayne” (originally he marked them as ponds but later changed his mind) in the centre. To the right is another pond in the court, and to the left a number of ruined walls. Marked along the wall leading to the left of the spring are two small niches and a seat. The whole area of the sketch is shown as being about 100 by 140 paces.
I’m not expert landscape archæologist, but from the position of the wall behind the existing bath or cistern (visible both in my picture and this old postcard), I’d say this was the enclosed one at the top of the sketch, the other two and the remaining pond having been obliterated by the later landscaping. The well has obviously been a tourist attraction for some time, as the postcard shows. One would be tempted to suggest that the connection with Rosamund was dreamed up for early tourists, but clearly the enclosure around the spring has been connected with her for much longer. She would certainly have had a fine view across the grounds from the seat. Locals have told me that a few years ago one could buy “Fair Rosamund Water” in bottles. Perhaps you still can, although with a little enterprise and a jar on a string, you could just raise some from the outflow.
The Spencer family is one of Britain’s most illustrious aristocratic families. This noble family descended in the male line from Henry Spencer, claimed to be a descendant of the cadet branch of the ancient House Le Despencer (died c. 1478), male-line ancestor of the Earls of Sunderland, the Dukes of Marlborough, and the Earls Spencer. Two prominent members of the family were Winston Churchill and Diana, Princess of Wales. The descent of the family from the Medieval Despencers has been challenged, especially by Horace Round in his essay The Rise of the Spencers. The Spencers were granted a coat of arms in 1504 which bears no resemblance to that used by the family after c. 1595, which was derived from the Despencer arms. Round believed that the Despencer descent was fabricated by Richard Lee, a corrupt Clarencieux King of Arms. The Spencer claim to be descendants of the Despencer family can neither be proven beyond reasonable doubt, nor disproved.
The Spencers started out as sheep farmers in pre-Tudor times but rose to opulent prominence during the 16th century where it was said that Lord Robert Spencer, 1st Baron Spencer of Wormleighton, was reputed to be the richest man in England upon the ascension of King James I to the English throne. This humble origins of the Spencers once caused a heated exchange of words between wealthy yet then-upstart Spencers with the more established Howards who had been the Earls of Arundel since the 12th century. During a warm debate in the House of Peers, Lord Spencer was speaking something in the house that their great ancestors did, when suddenly the Earl of Arundel cuts him off and then said “My Lord, when these things you speak of were doing, your ancestors were keeping sheep”. Lord Spencer then instantly replied, “When my ancestors as you say were keeping sheep, your ancestors were plotting treason.”
The Spencers later joined the Churchills upon the marriage of Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland and Lady Anne Churchill, daughter of the most celebrated Duke of Marlborough. From them descends the current line of the Spencer family which was divided into two branches. The senior line are currently the ducal line of the Spencer family who holds the Dukedom of Marlborough. The 5th Duke of Marlborough later changed their surname to Spencer-Churchill to emphasize their descent from the first duke. The junior line are currently the comital branch of the family who holds the title Earl Spencer.
The comital branch of the Spencer family can trace their ancestry to most of Britain’s nobility as well as to most of Europe’s royal houses. The Spencers are direct descendants albeit illegitimate of the House of Stuart, with the family boasting at-least five line of direct descendancy from the Stuarts, and from them, the Spencers can trace their ancestry to other royal houses such as the Bourbons, the Medicis, the Wittelsbachs, the Hanovers, the Sforzas, and the Habsburgs. More-so, the Spencers are one of the very few British noble families to be the heirs body of a once sovereign family, being the senior female-line descendants of John Churchill, the once sovereign Prince of Mindelheim.
Curse of BlenheimLast updated at 10:07 05 November 2004
Comments (0) Share .Her family may own one of the most romantic stately homes of England, but Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill has – like too many of her family – let happiness slip through her fingers.
The daughter of the lofty Duke of Marlborough – who owns Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, together with 11,500 profitable acres of land – has broken up with the man who has been the love of her life for the past five years.
Lady Henrietta, 47, an interior designer, and Iranian-born industrialist Farad Azima, 56, had always been an unlikely – though happy – couple.
A friend says: “She is tall, slim and very elegantly English, and he is rather on the short side and wonderfully cosmopolitan.
“But they got on fantastically well. He is charming with a great sense of humour and is good company.”
Lady Henrietta and Azima – who has a daughter aged 17 and a son aged 19 by his ex-wife Jennifer – were brought together by friends at a dinner party.
They fell in love and he even bought a large farm in Oxfordshire to be near Lady Henrietta’s house on the Blenheim estate.
She used her design flair to decorate the home, stamping it with her trademark country house style. A friend of the couple tells me: “Farad is very well liked and became very much one of the family.
“He became very fond of Henrietta’s children and she and her family became very fond of his.
“No one quite knows what went wrong, but we think Henrietta simply wanted to re-establish her independence.”
Lady Henrietta’s success in her eponymous interior design business has not been matched by good fortune in love.
She wed German-born banker Nathan Gelber in 1980 and had two sons. But they were divorced nine years later on the grounds of her adultery with philandering financier Richard Andrew.
Of the collapse of her latest romance, Lady Henrietta tells me coolly: “We are not a couple. He is merely a client of mine and I have been doing up his house.”
Love has not run smoothly for the family who own Blenheim Palace.
The Duke of Marlborough, 78, is unhappily separated from his third wife, Rosita. Lady Henrietta’s younger brother Jamie, the Marquess of Blandford, has for years struggled with the dual demons of drugs and drink, which destroyed his first marriage.
Thankfully, he seems to have repaired his rocky second marriage to pretty Welsh potter Edla Griffiths earlier this year.
Claire, her lover and a question of money
Gorgeous actress and chanteuse Claire Sweeney, 33, is in for a nasty surprise even before the tan from her recent £200-a-night holiday in Barbados has faded. Accountants Grant Thornton are planning to interview the former Chicago star over the financial collapse of her bankrupt boyfriend, Tony Hibberd, 39.
The firm has been appointed by the High Court as a joint trustee of shaven-headed Hibberd’s affairs, following the demise of his nightclub empire three months ago. Hibberd – who lives with Claire in a luxurious £700,000 apartment overlooking the Thames in Pimlico – has been banned from running a company for ten years for failing to pay taxes and breaking a string of business laws. His debts include one to the Royal Bank of Scotland for £3.14 million.
It seems the apparent contradiction between Hibberd’s debts and the high-life he enjoys with Claire has caught the attention of the men in suits. A Grant Thornton executive says: “We believe Claire Sweeney may be able to assist us in our inquiries.”
A friend of Claire tells me: “Of course, Claire herself has done nothing wrong. But you would have thought Tony could have kept his head down and not drawn attention to himself by swanning off with Claire on a five-star holiday in the Caribbean and flaunting his tan on a jetski.”
They always say that when a man picks a woman, he prefers one who looks like his mother. But in Tom Parker Bowles’s case he has chosen a girl who looks like his sister.
With their slim figures and long blonde hair, fashion writer Sarah Buys could be the twin of Tom’s pretty younger sister Laura , an art gallery assistant.
Both were on parade for the champagne launch of Tom’s first book, E Is For Eating, at Kensington Place restaurant in West London.
It was something of a family affair. Parker Bowles’s mother Camilla was there – sans the Prince of Wales, of course – as was his father, Andrew, and grandfather Major Bruce Shand.
Camilla had nothing but praise for Sarah. “She’s lovely and she looks quite similar to my daughter,” she tells me.
There are, however, no signs of wedding bells. A diplomatic Camilla says: “I feel as though I’ve just been given a grandchild – even though it’s just a cookery book.”
Ed for heights
For all the kerfuffle over his wedding at Chester Cathedral to the Duke of Westminster’s daughter, Tamara, Edward van Cutsem has not lost the admiration of his many friends.
And his marriage into the upper reaches of the aristocracy has surprised none of them. Among his contemporaries at Ampleforth, Ed was known as Edward van Tenzing – a play on the conqueror of Mount Everest and a reference to van Cutsem’s skills at social mountaineering.
Meanwhile, I hear that, not for the first time, these current ills to befall the Royal Family are being blamed on the curse of Princess Diana. The reason? Says a friend: “Diana wasn’t just Princess of Wales, she was also Countess of Chester.”
At last, Fergie has discovered something positive about her relatively low profile these days – going on the London Underground. Waxing lyrical about the joys of the Tube (she must be an off-peak traveller), the Duchess of York says she can’t believe she used any other form of transport. Indeed, she told GMTV viewers that she went to a Hallowe’en party in London last week wearing a ‘Sandie Shaw’ wig and no one recognised her.
Where are the paparazzi when you need them?