Lady Bette and the Murder of Mr. Thynn: A Scandalous Story of Marriage and Betrayal in Restoration England

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The true story of a sensational marriage and murder in 17th century London

Restoration England was a dangerous place for a girl like Lady Bette Percy, it was an era not so eloquently summed up as ‘a place where women were either pawns or whores’; and Lady Bette was a pawn indeed. At the age of 14, Lady Bette – a wealthy heiress to the Northumberland estates – was pushed into marriage by her ruthless grandmother, the Countess Howard. The man in question, Thomas Thynn was three times her age, and a fortune hunter in possession of an evil reputation. Pretty Lady Bette was repulsed by Mr. Thynn and she fled to Holland. Three weeks later, Mr. Thynn met his fate when he was gunned down by three assassins. But who was behind this contracted killing? Could it have been the dashing Swedish Count Coningsmark, in love with Lady Bette, and reputed to have golden hair down to his waist, or was it a political assassination – Thynn was, after all, a key player in the plot to overthrow the catholic James, Duke of York, as Charles II successor.

Pickford’s narrative conjures up scenes straight from a Gainsborough melodrama – murder, mystique and wealth set to the backdrop of the sleazy world of London’s taverns and brothels, to the grandeur of Syon and Petworth’s vast estates. The prose is vivid and atmospheric, where a trip to the gallows was the height of entertainment. As they say, truth is stranger than fiction.

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Marvellous Mariga

The Irish Aesthete

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Derek Hill’s portrait of Mariga which perfectly captures her shyness sometimes misconstrued as hauteur

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the death on May 8th 1989 of Mariga Guinness at the age of only 56. It seems an opportune moment to celebrate her life, especially since an entire generation has since grown up without having had the opportunity to meet Mariga and to benefit in person from her influence.
For those unfamiliar with her story, Marie-Gabrielle von Urach was born in September 1932, the only child of Prince Albrecht von Urach and Rosemary Blackadder. Her mother’s family were from the Scottish borders, her father’s a junior branch of the royal house of Württemberg in southern Germany; her grandfather was briefly King of Lithuania, a great-aunt Queen of Belgium and a great-grandaunt the Empress Elizabeth of Austria. Although her father had been expected to succeed to the principality of Monaco…

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