The 5th Earl and Countess of Lonsdale.


Hugh Cecil Lowther, 5th Earl of Lonsdale was born on 25th January 1857. He was the son of Henry Lowther, 3rd Earl of Lonsdale and Emily Susan Caulfield. He married Lady Grace Cecile Gordon, daughter of Charles Gordon, 10th Marquess of Huntly and Maria Antoinetta Pegus, on 25th June 1878. He died on 13th April 1944 aged 87 without issue, as his wife was unable to have children due to a riding accident.
Hugh & Grace Lowther.

After his father's death Hugh became one of the richest men in England, with estates which included the Whitehaven collieries, and this enabled him to lead an ostentatious lifestyle, employing yellow-liveried footmen and a special train for his household. He also used his wealth to pursue his various sporting passions, including hunting, boxing (he became the first president of the National Sporting Club), horse-racing (as the first president of the International Horse Show at Olympia), and cars (being the first president of the AA). His flamboyant style also led him into associations with famous actresses, such as Lillie Langtry and Violet Cameron, who bore him a daughter after he took her opera company to New York. He went on an Arctic expedition, during which he collected a huge number of Inuit artifacts which he donated to the British Museum. The German Kaiser came twice to Lowther Castle and brought the Earl a very early Mercedes Benz along with a German chauffeur!.
5th Earl of Lonsdale.
From Vanity Fair.

As a wayward younger son he was poorly educated and brought up chiefly among grooms and pugilists, which gave him a lifelong taste for showing off to social inferiors. As a penniless younger son he sold his birthright (it was bought by the family trustees who allowed him, as Earl, to live at Lowther) but his personal extravagance, combined with lack of foresight and bad management wrecked the family fortune, bankrupted the coal mines in Whitehaven, and led to the closing of the castle in 1936. Even then the castle was not lived in all the year round but mainly in the summer and autumn. The garden, but not the house, was opened to the public up to the outbreak of War in 1939.
"The Yellow Earl" organized the horses and carriages for the Delhi Durbar in 1910 but apart from that the Lowther family played a relatively limited role in public life in the twentieth century.

He was an avid sportsman and bon vivant and was known by some as "England's greatest sporting gentleman". He donated the original Lonsdale Belts for boxing. In addition, he was the inspiration for the Lonsdale cigar size. He was part of a famous wager with John Pierpoint Morgan over whether a man could circumnavigate the globe and remain unidentified. He was also a keen football fan, and was chairman of Arsenal Football Club for a brief period in 1936 (having previously been a club director) and later became the club's Honorary President. His name was also given to a clothing brand of boxing garments, worn by Muhammad Ali.
Lonsdale Belt.

"Bombardier" Billy Wells, who won one of the first Lonsdale belts, has been seen by millions of film goers - he is the man who bangs the gong for the start of Rank films. From the East End of London he was the first British Heavyweight to win the Lonsdale Belt, back in 1911, where he defeated Ian Hague with a knockout in the sixth round. The Belt is kept at The Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, South East London and is not on display to the general public. He defended the title thirteen times, a record that stood for many years, before losing against Joe Beckett in February 1919. The Lonsdale Belt that he won was the original heavyweight belt and is crafted from 22 carat gold unlike later belts.
The Lonsdale Belt is the oldest championship belt in boxing and its origins started in London back in 1909. These belts were originally presented to the champion in each British weight division and the holder could keep the belt if it was won and then defended successfully twice. The belt was first won by Freddie Welsh in 1909 for winning the British lightweight title. Heavyweight Henry Cooper was the first person to win three Lonsdale Belts outright in his seventeen year professional career. The belt is still won today and awarded by the British Boxing Board of Control. It is crafted from gold and porcelain, therefore is very expensive to produce.

The Earl of Lonsdale presented the Lonsdale Trophy for the winning team at the "Inter-Empire Sports Meeting" held at Crystal Palace, London and staged as part of the celebrations of the "Festival of Empire" in 1911. This trophy was won by the Canadian Team by one point, and was retained by Canada until presented to the British Empire Games Federation (now Commonwealth Games Federation) in 1934. The Silver Cup stood 2ft 6ins high and weighed 340 ounces (27lbs troy).

Lowther & Whitehaven Castles.

Lowther Castle.
Lowther Castle has been the family seat of the Earls of Lonsdale from time immemorial, and occupies the site of mansions dating back to the reign of Edward I.
The present building was started in 1806 to designs by Sir Robert Smirke. Lowther Castle was his first job when he was just 25. It was commissioned to be a design of elegance and strength.
When the famous "Yellow Earl", Hugh Lowther, lived there in the last decades of the 19th and first decades of the 20th Century the castle was the centre of a social whirl: royalty, heads of state, politicians and all manor of the rich and famous of the time visited Lowther for parties and sporting weekends.
Whitehaven Castle.
After the death of the 5th Earl of Lonsdale, the interior of the Castle was dismantled and sold, only the walls left standing as a memorial to past glories.

Whitehaven Castle is built on the site of an earlier mansion which was known as the Flatt. Sir John Lowther bought the Flatt on October 1st 1675. In 1769, following a fire, Sir James Lowther had the Flatt rebuilt in its present form and changed its designation to Whitehaven Castle. The castle remained in the hands of the Lowther family until 1920, when following an auction, it passed into the hands of the local health service. In 1926 the castle became the Whitehaven and West Cumberland Infirmary which continued to operate until 1964 when a new hospital was built at Hensingham. The castle remained in use as a geriatric unit, until closure in the mid 1980's. The castle is now currently under private ownership.

The Countess of Lonsdale.

There is no evidence that the Earl of Lonsdale had any political interests but the Countess was the Ruling Councillor of the Whitehaven Habitation of the Primrose League. The following extracts from the Whitehaven Gazette show a little of what went on:

Extract from: Whitehaven Gazette - Thursday, April 22, 1897.


RULING COUNCILLOR: The Countess of Lonsdale.
The ANNUAL MEETING of the above will be held in the ODDFELLOWS' HALL on THURSDAY, APRIL 22nd, 1897.
In which the following Ladies and Gentlemen will take part:
Chairman: J. R. Bain, Esq.
Doors Open at 7; Commence at 7-30 p.m.
DANCING from 10-30 to 4.
ADMISSION 1s; Reserved Seats, 2s 6d.
TICKETS may be obtained from MESSRS. G. ROBERTSON, Roper-street: T. ATKINSON, Roper-street: T. BRAKENRIDGE, King-street: and W. T. BELLMAN, 11, Lowther-street.

Extract from: Whitehaven Gazette - Thurs, April 29, 1897.


The Amateur Dramatic Entertainment given by the Primrose League at their annual meeting on Thursday last seems to demand something more than the usual passing notice, partly because it is a new departure for the League and partly because of the social position of the actors.
The Chairman (MR. BAIN) explained that as the meeting was the annual one of the League, it was necessary that the formal business of appointing the Ruling Councillor and other officials should be gone through, and this was accomplished with the least possible delay. There was no speech-making and no address, as has usually been the case, and no statement of the position of the League.
It is open to question whether this is the best course to pursue, having regard to the interests of the cause. No doubt entertainments, concerts, dramatic performances, and pleasant gatherings are powerful weapons of the cause, and when they can be made the means of bringing together a good audience to listen to a good practical address sandwiched between the performances, they are quite justifiable, but if this is omitted there seems to be some danger of the League going to pieces. It is essentially a fostering and educating medium, and if it loses this quality it will have outlived the reason for its existence and cease to be, as it has been, a useful adjunct to the Conservative cause.
The meeting, in my opinion, would have been more successful and certainly more enjoyable if there had been only two performances and a good political speech in between them. As a rule, a little of amateur theatricals goes a long way, and a whole night devoted thereto is rather apt to pall on those who are not the personal friends of the performers, and there can be no doubt that in this case the performance was too long, although taken as a whole it was far above the general run.
In criticising the actors, praise must be given and fault also recorded, but it is to be understood that any fault-finding is not conceived in the captious or hostile spirit. Wholesale praise does a great deal of harm, especially when speaking of educated and intelligent performers. They either resent it or take no notice of such criticism.
Those who seek to understand their parts and present them skilfully, will, as a rule be thankful for honest but not ungracious criticism, and this is supplied in another column at the hands of a valued friend and correspondent.

Extract from: Whitehaven Gazette - Thurs, April 29, 1897.


The difficulty of pleasing everybody has often been experienced and talked about, but on Thursday last MRS. J. R. BAIN, the Deputy-Ruling Councillor of the Whitehaven Primrose League, succeeded in accomplishing this difficult operation through the grand entertainment she designed and carried out.
I do not remember ever witnessing a dramatic performance in the district before which passed off so enjoyably and free from hitches, and which was so splendidly maintained from beginning to end with sprightly talk and real good acting.
We have some Press men in Whitehaven who fancy they know all that is worth knowing about pictures, singing, music, the drama, &c. and who go in for elaborate criticism, sometimes to the annoyance and oftener to the amusement of the parties concerned. This cannot be laid to my charge, as I candidly admit that I don't know the first thing about one or the other.
I attended the entertainment with the expectation of witnessing a display of the usual amateur kind, and so was very agreeably disappointed, as the acting was almost faultless, the arrangements excellent, and the audience appreciative and sympathetic, though far from demonstrative or enthusiastic. No doubt I will be expected to express an opinion on the ability of the actors and actresses, so from the point of view of one who is not a competent critic, but who is merely guided by his own ideas of what is in good taste and true to nature, I proceed to do so.
I certainly was most pleased with the acting of MRS. BAIN, which was so easy, graceful, and natural as to lead us to imagine that the scenes depicted were those of every day life. In fact, figure, style, language, and mannerism MRS. BAIN impressed me with the idea that she was the gem of the crowd.
I accord the second place to MISS GORDON, whose acting was to my mind simply splendid. Some folk may think that once or twice she was disposed to over-act her part, but "over-acting" is a charge more easily made than proved. If MRS. BAIN had not been there, I certainly would have named MISS GORDON as the brightest and best.
In selecting MISS YARD for third honours I may not be doing her justice. This young lady had the disadvantage of undertaking a character difficult to portray, from the fact that it was almost impossible for her to enter into and thoroughly realise the thoughts and feelings of "Aunt Margaret". Yet she did so, and her mass of lovely hair did not stand in the way. As an actress pure and simple, perhaps MISS YARD might be considered by competent judges to be the best, but as I don't profess any ability in this direction I am simply giving expression to the independent opinions that will be expected from me.
I hope the other young ladies will view the matter in this light. I, as well as everybody else, was delighted with all their efforts, and so creditably did they go through their various parts that they merited and gained universal admiration.
I must not conclude my remarks on this subject without some reference to the actors, who were one and all really good, but the one in particular that pleased me the most was MR. S. BURNS-LINDOW, who was so much at home in his part as to provide the house with what DR. I'ANSON recommends to many of his patients, and that is "cheerful company".
It must not be imagined that all the acting on Thursday night was confined to the stage. There was a fair share of it going on amongst the audience, and it would be most interesting to learn how the various characters felt satisfied with their own performance on self-examination. I did not think the business part of the evening's work was so thoroughly gone into as it was the previous night at Cleator Moor, when the report and balance-sheet were produced, read, and passed, and the officials selected by name and voted for in proper business-like fashion.
The absence and illness of MR. STARKEY may account for any omission or irregularities of this kind, but taking everything into consideration we are all much indebted to MRS. BAIN for the provision of a most agreeable evening's entertainment, and trust that her success may tempt her to get up another.

The 'Earl of Lonsdale' Public House on the corner of the world famous Portobello Road, London -- restored using the original Victorian plans.

Who's Who 1901.

Bookplate of Hugh Cecil Lowther, 5th Earl of Lonsdale.

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