Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

The Dancing Marquess of Anglesey again

I have posted previously about the fifth Marquess of Anglesey with his, well, shall we say, interesting, lifestyle at the beginning of the twentieth century - now those really were the days.

Recently the BBC News website had a new feature about him with a series of illustrations and linked to the impending sale of the family’s diamond tiara. It can be viewed at:


The Fifth Marquess has been rediscovered in recent years for, one suspects, predictable reasons. That is fair enough, but it is perhaps too easy for many, however committed to whatever contemporary cause, to look at his exoticism with a hint of contempt for privilege and wealth, and for the era in which he so briefly flourished. Rather than being smugly censorious we might do better to see him as being an ‘innocent abroad’. What elements in his makeup and upbringing made him who he was? Yes, his wealth allowed him to indulge his whims in spectacular ways, but he strikes me as someone to be, well, not pitied, but as seeking an unattainable vision - and one not vouchsafed to others. Compassion, not condemnation, for his ambivalence and profligacy ( however disastrous to the Paget family and their inherited estates ), seems more appropriate.

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