Tag Archive: Edward Prince of Wales

Here are the details (swiped from http://users.bestweb.net/~foosie/cyril.htm) of the programme for the revue TO AND FRO – which opened at the Comedy Theatre and ran from November 26th to December 12th 1936. It was devised and largely written by Simon Carnes and Edgar Blatt. The ballet pieces were choreographed by Antony Tudor. The set designs were probably by Carnes but may have been by Sophie Fedorovitch as she was a close friend of Carnes (who is better known as Simon Fleet). Hugh Wade contributed the music to four songs, the most significant being “Haven’t Got A Heart”. This was sung by Hermione Baddeley and written by James Laver ( see https://elvirabarney.wordpress.com/2011/12/20/james-laver-iconographer/). It was the lament of a Bright Young Thing of 1926 – ten years on.

Hermione Baddeley in “To and Fro”

I will post separately on some of the cast as there are names here that should resonate more than they currently do. As an art form,the Revue, with its mixture of ballet, classical music, popular song and satire remains one of the most characteristic (and under-examined) aspects of inter-War West End culture. I would like to explore that further at some stage.

Lord Berners

For the time-being, note the presence of Lord Berners and Osbert Sitwell, the dancers Maude Lloyd and Hugh Laing, alongside stage and film stars such as Hermione Baddeley and Esme Percy.  Hugh Wade’s participation runs counter to the image of him as completely marginal to the creative and culturally productive aspects of 1930s stage and theatrical life.

Antony Tudor and Hugh Laing ( by Carl Van Vechten 1940)

With such an array of talent, you may wonder why the show was so short-lived. Unfortunately, the running joke that linked the various songs and sketches was the affair between Edward the Eighth and Wallis Simpson. With Edward’s abdication on the 11th of December the project was doomed.

Finally, I can’t help wondering about the running time of these revues. There are 44 separate items plus an interval. The opening night show, and I think most of the subsequent ones, started at midnight. If you throw in an after-show drink at the Florida or the 400, it is no wonder so many reminiscences of the period recall returning home after the dawn.

Title Authors Roles Performers
Out of the Cage Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr.
Jeunesses D’Orees Diana Morrison, Joan Griffiths, Peggy Shingleton, Pat Hurren, Cyril Wells, Bobby Tranter, Peter Moyes
Fantasies Towina Thomas, Sammy Samuels, Ella Marion, Trixie Scales, Mercy Carnell, Eva Thorn, Maisie Green, Betty Shepard, Biergit Nissen
By Day Animals–By Night Humans Hermione Baddeley, Cyril Ritchard, Esme Percy,  Viola Tree, Gerry Fitzgerald, Yvette Darnac, Maude Lloyd, Hugh Laing, Zoe Winn, Bill Kershaw and Entire Company
To and Fro Lyrics by Edgar Blatt; music by nat Ayer, Jr. The Entire Company; danced by Bobby Tranter and Cyril Wells
The Gallery Lyric by Simon Carnes; music by Nat Ayer, Jr. A Social Artist Billy Kershaw
Typist Trixie Scales
Shop Girl Towina Thomas
Titled Lady Diana Morrison
Boy About Town Peter Moyes
The Camera Never Lies Simon Carnes Compere Cyril Ritchard
a Joan Griffiths, Peggy Shingleton, Pat Hurren, Peter Moyes, Ian Hamilton-Smith  
b Cyril Ritchard
c Viola Tree
Je T’aime (after Watteau) Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Hugh Wade Yvette Darnac
At Any Dance Arthur Watkyns The Girl Hermione Baddeley
The Boy Cyril Wells
Caledonian Market Lyric by Simon Carnes; music by Nat Ayer, Jr. Viola Tree, Cyril Ritchard
A French Lesson Aubrey Ensor Professor Esme Percy
Mother Diana Morrison
Daughter Pat Hurren
Father Cyril Wells
Maid Peggy Shingleton
Grandfather Peter Moyes
Waiting for Twilight to Fall Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr. Sung by Gerry Fitzgerald
Ballerina Maude Lloyd
Peggy Shingleton, Joan Griffith, Cyril Wells, Peter Moyes, Ian Hamilton-Smith and The Girls
Learning Dramatic Art Simon Carnes & Edgar Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr. Compere Viola Tree
Hermione Baddeley, Cyril Ritchard
Goodbye Romance Simon Carnes; lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Hugh Wade The Girl Hermione Baddeley
The Professor Esme Percy
Play Like I Like It Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr. Zoe Wynn, Cyril Wells, Bobby Tranter
Literary Widows Herbert Farjeon; music by Walter Leigh Viola Tree, Yvette Darnac, Hermione Baddeley
Wreckage Edgar Blatt She Zoe Wynn
He Cyril Ritchard
Artists’ Model Yates Mason; music by Geoffrey Wright Hermione Baddeley
Prelude Lord Berners She Maud Lloyd
He Hugh Laing
Duchesses The Girls
Art Knows No Nationality Osbert Sitwell The Impresario Esme Percy
The Artist Viola Tree
Haven’t Got a Heart Lyric by James Laver; music by Hugh Wade Hermione Baddeley
Political Hot-Pot Simon Carnes
Celebrated Empires Egypt Peggy Shingleton
Greece Joan Griffiths
China Diana Morrison
Rome Pat Hurren
Commissionaire Bobby Tranter
Pine for Peace The Boy Peter Moyes
The Girl Zoe Wynn
Old Tree Esme Percy
Young Tree Cyril Wells
Selling the Earth The Auctioneer Gerry Fitzgerald
A Foreign Lady Diana Morrison
A Bidder Alan Davis
On the Battlefield, tra-la Simon Carnes & Edgar Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr. 1st General Esme Percy
2nd General Cyril Ritchard
Referee Billy Kershaw
Followers Cyril Wells, Bobby Tranter, Peter Moyes, Ian Hamilton-Smith
Russiska Yvette Darnac
Vivandieres Zoe Wynn, Towina Thomas
A Milk Maid Hermione Baddeley
A Crooner Gerry Fitzgerald
International Rhythm Lyric by Eric Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr. Gerry Fitzgerald and Entire Company


I’m Going to Challenge You Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr. Zoe Wynn, Peggy Shingleton, Joan Griffiths, Diana Morrison and the Girls
I’ve Balanced My Budget Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by nat Ayer, Jr. Billy Kershaw
The Party Spirit Edgar Blatt & J.M. Griffith Hilda Higgins Viola Tree
Alfred Higgins Cyril Ritchard
Ernest Hermione Baddeley
I’m On My Own Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr. Yvette Darnac
Dancers: Maude Lloyd, Hugh Laing and The Girls
Ridiculous Days Simon Carnes Mr. Biggleswade Esme Percy
Mrs. Biggleswade Viola Tree
The Big Black Horse Lyrics by Edgar Blatt & Simon Carnes; music by Leslie Southgate The Girl and Chatterton Hermione Baddeley
The Landlady of To-day Pat Hurren
The Landlady of Yesterday Viola Tree
Sir Horace Walpole Esme Percy
Member of the Book Society Cyril Ritchard
Song of the Book Society Herbert Farjeon Hermione Baddeley, Cyril Ritchard, Esme Percy, Viola Tree, Pat Hurren
Reprise–Play Like I Like It
Surrealists Archie Campbell in conjunction with Simon Carnes & Edgar Blatt The Mother Viola Tree
A Person Ian Hamilton-Smith
An Artist Cyril Wells
The Daughter Hermione Baddeley
A Thing Bobby Tranter
Symphonie Russe Music by Prokokief; suggested by Sophie Fedorovitch Maud Lloyd, Hugh Laing and The Girls
Entrancing Dancing Simon Carnes; music by Leonard Blackett The Maestro Esme Percy
The Woman of the Plains Cyril Ritchard
The Sower Cyril Wells
Let’s Take A Chance Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Hugh Wade Gerry Fitzgerald, Zoe Wynn, Billy Kershaw, Trixie Scales, Bobby Tranter, Towina Thomas
Something in the Movies Lyric by Gerrard Bryan; music by Nat Ayer, Jr. Cyril Ritchard
Girl Guides Aubrey Ensor; music by Michael Sayer Miss Simpson Viola Tree
Daphne Davies Hermione Baddeley
The Bishop Osbert Sitwell Esme Percy
Compere Cyril Ritchard
Flats Simon Carnes & Viola Tree
The Bells Will Ring Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr. Cyril Ritchard, Zoe Wynn, Towina Thomas and Entire Company

Leslie “Hutch” Hutchinson

I’ll leave Charlotte Breese’s “Hutch” alone after this post but I do recommend it to anyone interested in the racial and sexual politics of the inter-war years – or anyone who wants to acquaint themselves with one of the true stars of British popular music in the sadly ignored decades preceding the rise of the Beatles. However there is a section on Elvira that is too tantalising to ignore.

“Typical of Hutch’s clients and/or lovers was Elvira Mullens, daughter of Lord and Lady Mullens. Three pianists – Hutch, Billy Milton and Carroll Gibbons – all played at one of her parties, which always featured modish theatricals. Appearing the same night was a close-harmony turn, The Three New Yorkers. Elvira was briefly married to one of them, a Mr.Barney. The marriage ended, and scandal erupted, when Elvira took a lover and shot him dead. Elvira was arrested and confined to the infirmary of Holloway prison, where, to keep up her spirits, she displayed a photograph of Tallulah Bankhead. At the same time, Mr. Barney tried to blackmail her father by threatening to expose details of her private life, including her cocaine habit. In the event, Elvira was acquitted. To celebrate she threw a huge party at the Berkeley. People were horrified and soon afterwards she committed suicide in Paris.”

There are some errors in this account, which is taken largely from Billy Milton’s “Paradise Mislaid” – is is doubtful that it was suicide, for example. However it is the “clients and/or lovers” that makes me wonder. Is this just a general statement about Elvira’s “typicality”  or is something more being implied? Why choose Elvira as an example, anyway?

It is not far-fetched at all to speculate  that Elvira could have had a fling with Hutch. So it seems did half of West End society, male and female. Elvira’s idol Tallulah certainly did and Zena Naylor (a friend of Brenda Dean Paul and Olivia Wyndham, if not Elvira herself) had quite a long-lasting affair with the singer. At one party, Brenda Dean Paul actually won Hutch in an auction. Another ex-Deb, Elizabeth Corbett (nee Sperling) was about the same age as Elvira and said to be the leader of “a smart set”. She gave birth to a child by Hutch in 1930. Hutch’s most famous relationship was with Lady Edwina Mountbatten, a somewhat less than clandestine romance and one which Elvira would have known all about. Edwina was drawing press attention at the same time Elvira was on trial. The People had hinted at an affair between Lady Mountbatten and a “coloured” entertainer. Fortunately for the Mountbattens, they picked on Paul Robeson as the likely candidate and Lord Mountbatten sued and won substantial damages. The unsuccessful defence case was conducted by none other than Sir Patrick Hastings, fresh from his  triumphant handling of Elvira’s murder charge.

Edwina Mountbatten

Although Hutch continued to be a cabaret favourite there was an undoubted behind the scenes campaign against him.After the abdication of friend and enthusiast Edward the Eighth he was rarely heard on the BBC and the Society invitations tailed off. He remained incredibly popular with female audiences throughout the country  and staged a triumphant “Society” comeback as part of the nostalgia for the 20s that hit the upper-classes in the mid-fifties. His last years though were ones of absolute decline and make for very sad and somewhat disquieting reading.

Breese’s commentary on the motivations of those women who threw themselves at Hutch in the golden years, from 1927 to the mid-thirties, rather misses some obvious points, explored at length elsewhere in the book,  but as an analysis of Elvira is worthy of consideration,

“Many of Hutch’s female lovers were rich and had nothing to do, and had little or no self-esteem.Desperate for affection, and attention, they lived in gilded misery, drifting from party to party and, inevitably, attracting men who despised, exploited and discarded them.”

Elvira’s Little Sister

Peter Cotes and others point out the marked difference between Elvira’s 1928 wedding at Princes Row Register Office, to John Barney, and her younger sister’s far more spectacular affair, three years earlier, at St.Margaret’s, Westminster Abbey. For Cotes this shows the family’s disapproval of Elvira’s choice of partner and I’m sure this is correct. Princes Row was still a rather more fashionable venue than the comparison implies – it was popular with actors and shwbusiness types as well as for second marriages among the rich and titled – but it was no match for St.Margaret’s.

Society Wedding 1935

When you said “Society Wedding” in the 1920s or 1930s you meant a wedding at St.Margaret’s. The most written about and, in some ways, most representative occasion was probably Brian Guinness’ marriage to Diana Mitford in 1929. There was always great press and newsreel interest and the guest lists were carefully scrutinised by those interested in the highways and byways of Debrett’s. Who was there (and not there) was a cause of much conversation and kept the gossip-columnists in material for months.

Brian and Diana Guinness

Here is how the Times reported Avril’s great day


“The second marriage ceremony of Prince George Imeretinsky, eldest son of Prince and Princess Imeretinsky, and Miss Avril Joy Mullens, younger daughter of Sir John and Lady Mullens, of 6, Belgrave square, took place at St. Margaret’s, Westminster, yesterday. Prebendary Gough officiated, assisted by the Rev. H. J. F. Tringham and the Rev. H. E. Sexton. The bride, who was given away by her father, wore a gown of cloth of silver, embroidered with pearls, cabochon crystals, and diamante, with long, tapering sleeves, with gauntlets of old Charles II rose-point lace, the hem of the gown being flounced with a deep band of Arctic fox. She wore a diadem of pearls and diamonds, with clusters of orange- blossom, which was covered with a long veil of flesh-tinted d’Alençon tulle, bordered with seed pearls. The train, which was of silver gauze, suspended from the shoulders with pearl tassels, and embroidered with panels of old Spanish rose-point lace, was carried by Master John Henderson and Master Richard Paget- Cooke, who wore white satin breeches and waistcoats, edged with silver, and white and silver brocade coats. Miss Mullens carried a sheaf of Mary’s lilies, bound with silver ribbons. There were five child bridesmaids- Miss Patsy Chapman, Miss Jay Horne, Princess Tatiana Wiasemsky, Miss Tou Tou Chichester, and Miss Susan Perry. They wore dresses of white georgette, with silver lace coats and bonnets of silver lace and silver tissue, and carried branches of orange-blossom and oranges. The best man was Captain D. Eric Smith (late Grenadier Guards), and after the ceremony a reception was held at 6, Belgrave- square.”

6 Belgrave Square

“Among others present were : Lady Mullens, Miss Elvira Mullens. General R. Mullens., M. and Mme Lambert, Major and Mrs. W. H. Mullens, Mr. M. C. Adamson, Mr. and Mrs. Norman Adamson, Mr. Stewart Adamson, Colonel Rushton Adamson, Mrs. George Mullens, Miss Mary and Miss Gertude Mullens, Prince and Princess Blucher, Prince and Princess Wiesemsky, Princess Lowenstein-Wertheim, The Marchioness of Huntley, Mr and Lady Alice Mahon, Lady George Loftus, Lady Arthur Browne, Lady Ellen Hotough, Lady Montague of Beaulieu, Lord Wargrave, Lady Hawke with Mrs. William Lindsay, Lady Dunedin, Lord and Lady Aberconway, Lady Ashfield and the Hon. Marion Stanley, The Hon Mrs. Trevor Lewis, the Hon. Mrs. Gideon Murray, Captain and the Hon. Mrs. Dormer, Miss Cecilia Dormer, the Hon. Mrs. Patrick Macnaughton, Major and the Hon. Mrs. Sidebottom, The Hon. Mrs. Algernon Borthwick, The Hon. Mrs. Bailey, the Hon. Assheton and Mrs. Harbord, The Hon. Mrs. Edward Gully and Miss Gully, Sir Joseph and Lady White-Todd, Lady Kindersley, Lady Grayson and Mrs. Rupert Grayson, Lady (Alfred) Cooper, Lady McCallum and Miss McCallum, Baroness de Bush, Count Grixoni, Lady Alexander, Baroness Versen and Miss Versen, Sir John and the Hon. Lady-Hermiker-Henton, Sir John and Lady Rosa, Lady Glover, Sir Charles Stewart, Sir George and Lady Lewis, Sir Charles and Lady Walpole, Lady Watts, Sir Herbert Lush-Wilson, Sir John and Lady Pretyman-Newman, Sir Gerald and Lady Ryan, Brigadier-General Sir Henry and the Hon. Lady Croft, Lady Muir-Mackenzie, Field- Marshal Sir William and Lady Robertson and Miss Robertson, Lady Allen, Lady Harvey, Lady Gilbert, Sir Bindon and Lady Blood, Lady Smiley and Miss Smiley, Lady Aird, Lady North, Sir August Cayzer and Miss Cayzer, Sir Henry and Lady Buckingham, Lady Solomon, Sir Trevor and Lady Dawson, Mrs. Edgar Horne and Miss Horne, Mrs. Lionel Harris, Mrs. Reginald Chichester, Mrs. Seymour Hughes, Mrs. Ernest Deacon, Mr. Harold Deacon, Mrs. Probet. Mrs. Henry Harris, Mrs. Pragnell, Mrs. and Miss Eckstein, Mrs. Aylett Moore, Mrs. Graham, General and Mrs. Tuson, Mrs. J. Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Tritton, Mrs. Roger Daniell, Mrs. Grinell-Milne, Mrs. Harry Higham, Mrs. Tixlall, Mrs. Hamilton-Wedderburn, Mrs. Alan Horne, Mrs. A. M. Carlisle, Mr. H. M. Carlisle, Mrs. and Miss Noble, Mrs. Ronald Henderson, Brigadier-General and Mrs. G. B. Stevens, Mrs. and the Misses Moyna, Canon Bowring, Mr. and Mrs. Bowring Hanbury, Mrs. Edward Huare, Miss Egerton Castle, Mrs. Wilfred Bowring, Mr. Ian Macpherson, Mrs. Aitken, Mrs. Henry Maine, Mr. and Mrs. Terence Eden, Mrs. and Miss Robertson, Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Allen, Commander and Mrs. Louis Greig, Mr. and Mrs. Hawkings. Mrs. Simon Brand. Mrs Maia Brand. Mrs. Carnegie. Mrs. and Miss Stanton, Captain Mick Browne, Mme. Zerlie de Lusan, Mrs. Aidan Kirkwood, Mrs. Robert Webster, Mr. Ernest Garnett, Mr. Eveleigh Nash, Mrs. Guy Ridpath, Mrs. and Miss Cohen, Mrs. Claude Berkington, Mr. H. B. Hansell, The Misses Soames, Major and Mrs. Jepson Turner, Mrs. Lyne Sutyens, Captain and Mrs. Tudor Owen, Mr. and Mrs. George Perry, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Baker, Mrs. Arthur Harter, Captain and Mrs. Schweder, Mr. and Mrs. Berkeley, Colonel and Mrs. Cross, Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Wilson, Mr. and Mrs. Harcourt Gold, Mrs. J. G. Dug, Mr. and Mrs. Montagu Price, Mrs. Jack Michell, Mrs. Roland Soames, Mrs. Hugh Rayner, Mrs. Paget-Cooke, Mr. and Mrs. W. 0. Bentley, Commander and Mrs. Polhill, Mr. and Mrs. Candsie, Colonel Nay de Crot, Mr and Mrs. Temple Twining, Mrs. Lockett Agnew, Mr. and Mrs. Worraw, Colonel Peel, Rear Admiral and Mr. Ernest Taylur, Mrs. Francis Kennedy, Mrs. Ricardo, Mrs. Bolton, Mrs. Archie Channing, Commander Henniker Heaton, Mrs. Ernest Radmel, Mr. and Mrs. Montrose Clorte, Mr. Frank Bullen, Mrs. Francis Brenton, Mrs. Sharman-Crawford, Mrs de Rimmer, Mrs. Francis Crompton, Miss Elizabeth Vesey, Mrs. Andrew Wylie, Mrs. Collingwood Thompson, Mr Hamilton Lamplugh, Mrs. Arthur Franks, Mrs. Cyril Cubitt, Commander Galpin, Mrs. Puttenham-Gibson, Major and Mrs. Davidson-Houston, Mr. R. Synon, Mrs. Walter Synon, Mr. and Mrs. Del Stanche, Mr. N. Gladstone and General and Mrs. Basil Buckley.

The bride and bridegroom left later for a honeymoon abroad, Princess Imeretinsky, wearing a dress of royal blue velvet with a coat to match, embroidered with pale gold, and a velvet hat.”
(Times Oct 30 1925)

Prince George Imeretinsky

Apart from the comforting knowledge that people with names like Tou Tou Chichester and Lady Blood actually existed outside the pages of Waugh or Wodehouse, this list is a powerful reminder of the world that Elvira initially inhabited, then rejected and was eventually expelled from.Because it is so hard to think of the 1920s without the Bright Young People, it is easy to forget that respectability and adherence to convention remained the norm for the overwhelming majority of the well-heeled.

Avril, we are told, followed the correct conventional path. But can we be sure about this? Her marriage to a White Russian prince  had the right romantic ring ( in fact, some newspapers reported the Barney shooting with the headline “Princess’ Sister on Murder Charge”) but the marriage, the Prince’s second, was no more solid than Elvira’s and ended in divorce in 1932. Also, Avril was barely 16 on her wedding day which strikes me as a little less than “proper”  – Imeretinskywas 28.

Avril and Hugh Leveson-Gower 1934

Avril next emerges into public view with her marriage to Hugh Leveson-Gower,  part of an extensive military, aristocratic, Royalist and Tory dynasty, They had a daughter who featured in a Life Magazine spread which mentions Elvira.

Belgrave Babies 1937

It would be nice to know how Avril and Elvira got along in the intervening years. The only reference I can find is to a shared dinner with the photographer Broderick Haldane but he sheds no particular light on the matter, being primarily concerned with Elvira’s subsequent notoriety. In the absence of any other evidence of Avril, of the right age and looks, being part of the “fast crowd”, we must assume that she stayed within the bounds of “decent society”.  I doubt they were close, either in tastes or temperament. Significantly, there is not one mention of her attending the trial.

After the War, Avril’s second marriage collapsed and she remarried once more. This time it was to Ernest Aldrich Simpson.  If the name seems familiar it is because he had been the husband of Wallis Simpson, who famously left him for Edward, briefly King of England and  then Duke of Windsor. As Prince of Wales he had been something of a hero to elements within the Bright Young Set and his habit of dining at the Cafe De Paris would not have gone unnoticed by Elvira. Ernest became (and remains) the forgotten man in a scandal  which, unlike the Barney affair, really did  unsettle the established order.

Ernest Simpson

Simpson died in 1958. Twenty years later, Avril died in a car crash in Mexico. The smart money would have been on Elvira to suffer such a fate. Perhaps the sisters had something in common after all.