Lady Londonderry, opened the annual exhibition of the Stockton branch of the Old Aged Pensions Association. In this photograph, Lady Londonderry is being shown the prizewinning exhibit won by my mother, Olga Pallister by judges, Mrs Staples and Mrs Smith c1960s.
Photograph and details courtesy of Deb Branson
Lady Londonderry nee Nicolette Harrison, was married to Alexander Charles Robert Vane-Tempest-Stewart, born 1937, the son of Robin Vane-Tempest-Stewart, heir to the Londonderry title, and his wife, Romaine, a brewer’s daughter. He had two older sisters, of whom the younger, Annabel, became better known as Lady Annabel Birley and later Lady Annabel Goldsmith, wife of Sir James Goldsmith and mother of Jemima Khan.
Nicolette Harrison, the 16-year-old daughter of a stockbroker, got secretly engaged to Alexander Londonderry of Wynyard Park. When they married in 1958, he and Nicolette were hailed as an example of the new ‘Hooray Henry’ aristocracy. They had two daughters and a son, when the son was 18 months old, however, blood tests established that he was not, in fact, Lord Londonderry’s, but the son of Georgie Fame, a weaver’s apprentice-turned-pop star, years later more discomfort was to follow when Lady Cosima Somerset, whom Lord Londonderry publicly accepted as his daughter by his first wife Nicollette Harrison, claimed that her biological father was the nightclub pianist and writer Robin Douglas-Home, nephew of the former prime minister.
Concerning Alexander Londonderry’s more recent forebears, the most colourful was his grandfather a Durham coal mine owner, he apparently sired three children by his mistress, as well as five by his wife Edith. In the mid 1930s, however he put himself beyond the pale by making a series of visits to Hitler in pursuit of a personal crusade to extend the policy of appeasement even further than Neville Chamberlain was prepared to contemplate for this reason he was called locally “The Londonderry Herr”.
Nicolette Harrison’s first husband, the 9th? Marquis of Londonderry died in 2012. Their marriage in 1958 was, I remember, something of a tabloid sensation at the time, possibly given her age.
I believe this is the Lady Londonderry that eventually, after the huge ‘scandal’ about who exactly was the father of her son and a subsequent divorce, married musician Georgie Fame.
Whilst she was still married to Lord Londonderry, I recall her coming to see Mr Fame (Clive Powell) when he was appearing with his band at the small Mr McCoy’s Club, Middlesbrough, one night in 1965. She had driven down that night from Wynyard Hall, at that time still the Londonderry’s private country-home.
At the door, she used her ‘title’ and asked to see Georgie. This prompted the head-doorman to telephone owner John McCoy, who was upstairs in the office. John responded, “Well, let her in” and put the phone down.
A few seconds later the doorman rang again, still somewhat over-awed, to ask…”As a member? (2/6d)..or as a guest? (4/6d)?”
Sadly, after being happily married for many years to Georgie Fame, this lady began to suffer from clinical depression and was killed, just a few years ago, after jumping off the Bristol suspension bridge.
Her son, a talented musician, still plays in his father’s band.
In 1958 Nicolette Harrison married into the Vane-Tempest-Stewart family and became known as the Marchioness of Londonderry. She enjoyed a life of wealth and privilege until she fell for the entertainer Georgie Fame and had his child. Her divorce followed in 1971 and the next year she married Georgie Fame. She took her own life in 1993 by jumping off the Clifton suspension bridge.