I am delighted to report that I have been contacted by a relative of Hugh Armigel Wade. William Wade is Hugh’s Great-Nephew and, not only has he shared some valuable knowledge, he has kindly allowed me to post this wonderful photograph.
Here we see the composer and professional musician and not just the party-goer. It is obviously an older Hugh than the one we know from the Chelsea photographs (see https://elvirabarney.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/freak-party-chelsea-1929/ ) but I think we can detect the same sense of fun and maybe a little mischief about the smile.
From the information that William provides, a number of points emerge. Hugh Wade was born at Market Deeping in Lincolnshire, the youngest of three sons. His father was a solicitor. Hugh was educated at Marlborough. By my reckoning, that makes him the exact contemporary of some very illustrious names – John Betjeman, Anthony Blunt and Louis MacNeice. That period has been immortalised in Betjeman’s Summoned by Bells and is also carefully assessed by Miranda Carter in her biography of Blunt
Whether Hugh was friendly with these notable “aesthetes” (who stood out, as Marlborough was considered very robust and sporty, even by the standards of English Public Schools) I’ve yet to discover. In London later, Blunt knew Brian Howard (and, I think, Arthur Jeffress) and Betjeman mentions the Blue Lantern at least once – so the school links may be there.
We can update Hugh’s career too. He lived in Paris for a time, which makes sense. No exact dates, but there was apparently an interview with him on French radio so he must have had some kind of public profile. His post-war career, though short, was also rather more substantial than I had realised. His song “Souvenir De Paris” was recorded by Steve Conway, Anne Shelton and Doreen Lundy and “Let It Be Soon” by Ted Heath and Charlie Chester. These were some of the top names in 1940s Light Entertainment and the search is now on for a complete discography.
Sadly, Hugh Wade’s early death from throat cancer ended this second productive phase.
Of the man himself, William reports that he was well-liked and something of a wit – neither of which is surprising. Intriguingly, it seems that one of Hugh’s friends was Raymond Mays, the racing driver and the man behind ERA in the 1930s and BRM after the Second World War. Mays, a legend in the world of motor sports , lived all his life in Bourne, just six miles or so from Market Deeping.
Famous photograph of Raymond Mays – Shelsey Walsh Mountain Race 1924
Mays drove at Brooklands, sometimes against Ludy Ford, the driver involved in the White Party incident (see https://elvirabarney.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/arthur-streek/ ). Elizabeth Ponsonby is the link between Ford and Hugh, but Mays, routinely described as “flamboyant” and “theatre-loving”, could well have been part of that crowd. I need to investigate Mays a little more. Were characters like Mays and Ford the documentary basis of the Vile Bodies racing episode?
However, what I would really like to do now is to find more music composed by Hugh Wade and then to get it a wider airing. If anyone has soundclips, scans of record labels or sheet-music, please let me know.
For earlier posts on Hugh just hit the tag