7th Earl of Chesterfield

George Philip Cecil Arthur Stanhope, 7th Earl of Chesterfield (1831-1871) was styled Lord Stanhope until 1866 when he inherited the title from his father the 6th Earl (also a Henry Poole & Co customer). He was a soldier, Tory politician, the first President of Derbyshire County Cricket Club and was a victim of one of the greatest narrowly avoided royal tragedies in the reign of Queen Victoria.

An only son, Lord Stanhope was educated at Eton where he excelled as a cricketer and went on to play club cricket for I Zingari and for the Old Etonian cricket team in 1851. A lieutenant in the Royal Horse Guards, Lord Stanhope retired in 1855 and in 1860 was elected as MP for Nottinghamshire South. He was elevated to the Lords when he succeeded his father to the Earldom in 1866.

The Earl of Chesterfield was a member of the Marlborough House set who gathered around the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII) and indulged in the Prince’s fondness for gambling, the turf and the demi monde of London and Paris after dark. The bachelor Earl was already a customer of Henry Poole & Co (the Prince’s preferred tailor) when titled Lord Stanhope but his orders significantly accelerated when he inherited his father’s title and estate Bretby Hall in Derbyshire.

Within a year Lord Chesterfield ordered fancy stripe doe trousers, an Albanian striped silk dressing jacket lined in silk, a fancy single Melton cape lined with silk and with silk breast facings and sleeve linings, a black Alexandra cloth pea coat lined with silk, a fine black dress coat, a black cashmere dress vest with a silk back, a fancy Angola lounging coat with trousers and a grey diagonal buckskin shooting coat. He would remain a customer until his untimely death in 1871.

Lord Chesterfield was one of a house party of 27 Marlborough House setters invited to Londesborough Lodge in Scarborough in 1871. Somewhat unusually for the philandering Prince, he was accompanied by his wife Alexandra, Princess of Wales. Londesborough Lodge was a relatively cramped house built on a cliff top with what transpired to be a fetid drainage system. The Princess of Wales then the Prince complained of feeling unwell and returned to their Norfolk estate Sandringham where the Prince was diagnosed with typhoid fever. Typhoid had carried off his father Prince Albert, the Prince Consort almost a decade to the day of the Prince of Wales’s near-fatal illness.

Such was the seriousness that Queen Victoria was summoned from Osborne House to hold vigil at his bedside with a distraught Princess Alexandra. The Prince of Wales recovered after evading the Grim Reaper by a whisker. On the same day of the heir to the throne’s recovery, it was announced that Lord Chesterfield had died of typhoid fever at Bretby Hall. The ill humours at Londesborough Lodge were blamed for the 7th Earl’s demise.

(c) James Sherwood

Photo © (c) James Sherwood Collection.