Sir Henry (Chips) Channon. M.A.


Born in Chicago on 7 March 1897 (although he claimed 1899 as the year of his birth, until a distressing exposure in the Sunday Express). He was the only child of Henry (II) Channon, who inherited a fleet of vessels plying the Great Lakes, and his wife, Vesta Westover. After accompanying the American Red Cross to Paris (1917), he was subsequently an honorary attaché at the US embassy there (1918). His lifelong Proustian infatuation with the aristocratic civilization of Europe was enhanced during eighteen happy months as an undergraduate at Christ Church, Oxford (January 1920 - June 1921, awarded a M.A.). At this time he shared a bachelor house with a friend known as "Fish" and as a result he acquired the nickname "Chips", which afterwards was his London telegraphic address. On leaving university he shared a house in Westminster with Viscount Gage and Prince Paul of Serbia. When the Prince became regent of Yugoslavia (1934), Channon described him as 'the person I have loved most - the only human being with whom I am completely, wholly natural'. Adoring London society, privilege, rank, and wealth, he became an energetic, implacable, but endearing social climber who pursued the Curzons' of Kedleston as part of his self-reinvention as an upper-class European. But away from the smart drawing-rooms of Mayfair and Belgravia he was often less comfortable. He became a naturalised Briton in the 1920's. In 1924 Channon's father granted him $90,000 and three years later he inherited $85,000 from his grandfather's estate. Channon no longer had to work for a living and he spent his time travelling and socializing. He developed Conservative political views and during the 1926 General Strike served as a Special Constable and helped to distribute the anti-strike newspaper, 'The British Gazette'.
Henry Channon.

Channon is chiefly remembered for his diaries which survive for the years 1918, 1923 - 8, and 1934 - 53. Discreetly edited extracts compiled by Robert Rhodes James and published in 1967 open with Lady Diana Cooper's announcing the death of King Albert I of the Belgians (12th February 1934) and close with Channon's cocktail party for King Umberto II of Italy (18th November 1953). An 8th of January 1935 entry in his diary states: "I drove to Southend to address the Primrose League, of which I am the Ruling Councillor. There was a fog on the return, and I arrived back at Elveden late, cold and hungry. Our guests were still up but the 50 servants had gone to bed, and I could get nothing to eat. In spite of that, of all the Iveagh houses I like Elveden best. I love its calm, its luxurious Edwardian atmosphere". He also wrote and had published several books including the novel, Joan Kennedy (1929), a book about Chicago, Paradise City (1930) and a work of history, The Ludwigs of Bavaria (1933).
Kelvedon Hall.

He married on 14th July 1933 a glamorous heiress, Lady Honor Dorothy Mary, daughter of Rupert Edward Cecil Lee Guinness, second earl of Iveagh, and his wife, Gwendolen Florence Mary. He proudly doted on their only child, Paul born 9th October 1935, who was created (Life) Baron Kelvedon on 11th June 1997. The Channons acquired a sumptuous house at 5 Belgrave Square, London in 1935 and an estate at Kelvedon, Essex in 1937 despite the rumours that the house was haunted, and restored it to its former elegance with the addition of a pair of entrance lodges. The Hall was used as a convelesance home during the 2nd World War and is now occupied by his son, Lord Kelvedon. Hospitality at these homes was as effervescent and lavish as their interiors were ornate. The newly married Chips was a thoughtful, shrewd, witty, and worldly gossip who loved to help people. His social radiance could be entrancing; he was resolute in promoting the interests of his friends. The Earl of Drogheda found him 'an immensely kind man, with many acts of generosity to his credit': when Viscountess Castlerosse sat on a wasp, Chips sucked the sting out of her buttock.

Channon was first elected to the House of Commons on 26th November 1935. A strong anti-Communist he one of Parliament's leading supporters of General Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War and believed that Adolf Hitler could be persuaded to attack the Soviet Union, Channon was a enthusiastic advocate of appeasement. Three years later Neville Chamberlain appointed Channon as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Rab Butler. He remained as a junior member of the government throughout the Second World War.
Henry Channon was Knighted by H.M. the Queen on the 12th February 1957. He suffered from poor health during his last years and died on 7th October 1958, in London, at the age of sixty-one. His son, (Henry) Paul Guinness Channon, succeeded him as representative for Southend West, he was elected, on 30th January 1959, to the House of Commons.
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but only available on the CD due to file sizes.
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Blog posting by Alan Allport dated: 15th November 2004.
The Independent: 8th January 2004.
Who's Who 1984.