She That To Us Was Loveliest

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In April 1904 Cecil and Maude Baring bought Lambay Island, off the coast of north Dublin, for £5,250. The couple had met a few years earlier in New York where he had gone to work for the family bank and she was married to one of his partners: having eloped together and following her divorce, they married. But given public attitudes at the time, it is understandable the Barings should have remained somewhat aloof from society and relished their life on Lambay where they commissioned Edwin Lutyens to restore and extend an old castle. Together with their three children, they lived a paradisal existence until almost exactly 18 years after buying the island, Maude died of cancer in April 1922. She was buried on Lambay, Lutyens designing a large curved mausoleum inside the rampart walls. The memorial is both austere and yet highly personal, and at the centre of its front her grieving husband placed the plaque shown below.

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I shall be writing more about Lambay Island in a few weeks’ time.

14 comments on “She That To Us Was Loveliest

  1. Elka says:

    Who composed the text?

  2. David Hicks says:

    There is a connection between Lambay Island and Co. Kerry. The fifth Earl of Kenmare, Valentine Charles Browne of Killarney House married Elizabeth Baring, a member of the banking family. When Killarney House burnt down in 1913 the fifth Earl decided not to re-build Killarney House so in 1915, he converted the stables of Kenmare House having sought advice from the architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens. Lutyens had produced designs for the brother of Lady Kenmare for Lambay Island in Dublin and is believed to have offered his services in Killarney as a favour to his client.

    • Thank you, I’d forgotten the Lutyens connection with Kenmare House through Ld K’s wife. Their son of course was the sixth Earl who as Lord Castlerosse was Beaverbrook’s favourite gossip columnist in the 1930s (cf. opening lines of chapter 4 of Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies). And his second wife was the great Australian beauty Enid Kenmare who, because she had buried four husbands, was known as Lady Killmore. In turn her son Rory Cameron was a decorator of great taste who at one stage lived in Co Donegal – but where? (All help on this most welcome)

  3. Danny says:

    Lovely insight of Lambay House and Lutyens in that Country Life Archive book by Sean O’Reilly… ( and another smaller book from the 90’s the title of which evades me…)So it will be interesting to have updated news and photos.
    Thanks for your dedication to the visual environment

    D

    • Yes, the pictures of the house in the Country Life archives are of interest, because so little inside the house has changed since; it really has altered remarkably little over the past century. As you will see soon enough…

  4. Thank you for this very interesting post Robert. I was lucky enough to visit Lambay as a child, or rather as a teenager, very lucky in fact, because at the time it was particularly private and inaccesible. (the then owner was resident and very private, almost a reclusive) That’s years ago of course but I’d no recollection of this lovely memorial you describe. But I remember walks along the sea cliffs, being in the main house, (and realising, even then, that Edwin Lutyens was a genius) and staying overnight in one of the cottages, and hundreds of teaming seabirds wheeling in the air and, as I recall now, the wallabies! Wonderful memories. I eagerly await your future posts on the subject. Respects as always- Arran.

    • The birdlife on Lambay is quite extraordinary, isn’t it, one of the things that makes the island so distinctive and magical. Will be showing more of the house soon.
      Many thanks as always for your interest Arran, much appreciated.

  5. Tom Gowans says:

    How touching. Here is a man who had made it only to find that happiness is ephemeral.

  6. columnist says:

    I did try and leave a comment here a few days ago, but Word Press was being unco-operative, but my comment expressed those left by Tom – I thought the epitaph was extraordinarily moving, as only a few can be.

  7. d .heaslip says:

    Are the wallabies still resident on Lambay, and if so who and when were they introduced ,also as Lambay is an island and with no chance of a natural migration unless they can swim , would the wallabies now be considered part of the local fauna? just a quirky idea …….

    • Thanks for your interest. To the best of my knowledge the wallabies are still there (it was snowing when I was last on the island, so not a good time to go wallaby-hunting) and I seem to recall it was the first generation of Barings who introduced them to the island. Next time I am over staying I will check it out and report back.

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