Thursday, January 9, 2014

Resort Life, Chapter XXXII: Summer 1967

August 1967. "Good morning Nancy!" It is 7 am and Nancy Lancaster, celebrated American trendsetter of English style innovations, is already at work in her fabulous garden at Haseley Court where Ellen Ordway and Gertrude Legendre have settled in for a refined respite following their African safari. Haseley Court was the subject of a documentary, "An Englishwoman's Garden," produced by the BBC in 1993.
Resort Life, Chapter XXXII: Summer 1967
Castles & Camps: Morocco + Zimbabwe/Botswana + England + Ireland

By Augustus Mayhew

On their way to the Kalahari plains in Central Africa, Ellen Ordway and Gertrude Legendre spend a week ensconced at Tangier’s York Castle overlooking the straits of Gibraltar. Located between the casbah and the harbor, York Castle was a 16th-century Portuguese fortress updated and transformed by renowned designers Charles Sevigny and Yves Vidal, of Knoll International, who lived next door to the castle at their home  Dar Zero

The designers converted the dungeons and elephant stables into a luxurious eight-bedroom enclave with a roof-top pool, furnishing it with ultra-modern accoutrements including Knoll lounges, Saarinen tables, and Bertoia chairs. At the time of Ordway’s visit, York Castle was on the market for $1 million by Previews.

Charles Baskerville and Gertrude Legendre swimming in the rooftop pool at York Castle.
At the Tangier house party, Ordway and Legendre were joined by artist Charles Baskerville, Metropolitan Museum chairman and  president Arthur Amory Houghton and his wife Betty Houghton, Gioia Marconi Braga, her niece Pamela Braga, and Inigo de Toledo. A perennial Palm Beach favorite for his portraits and murals, Baskerville’s work was already part of major museum collections. Though best known as president for the Houghton-family owned Steuben Glass, Arthur Houghton was a cousin of actress Katherine Hepburn.

The Houghton Library at Harvard houses his extensive rare book collection. The daughter of Italian Nobelist Guglielmo Marconi, “the Father of Modern Communication,” Gioia  married George Atkinson Braga, chairman of Czarnikow-Rionda, a Cuban sugar concern.  The Bragas were part of the boldfaced New York-Palm Beach-London-Paris social circuit.  In 1969, Pamela Braga married John “Nicky” Drexel IV. Following their 1976 divorce, Pamela married J. Carter Brown, who was the director of the National Gallery of Art, in a ceremony at Westminster Abbey. Mr. Brown’s father was called “the world’s richest baby,” according to The New York Times. The Braga-Brown marriage ended in 1991.

Following their African safari, Ellen and Gertrude headed to Nancy Lancaster’s digs at Haseley Court, an 18th-century manor in Oxfordshire she acquired in 1955. The niece of Nancy, Viscountess Astor (Mrs. William Waldorf Astor),  Nancy Keene Perkins Field Tree Lancaster was born in Virginia, well-versed in old South traditions. Lancaster moved to England in 1926 where she went on to develop what became known as the “English Country” style, an eclectic mix of period styles with chintz and bright colors focused more on comfort than provenance. After her divorce from Col. Claude Lancaster, she bought Lady Colefax’s decorating shop in Mayfair in partnership with designer John Fowler, becoming influential style arbiters.  The main house at Haseley Court was sold in 1971 to 18th Viscount Hereford while Lancaster lived in the former coach-house.  She continued to tend the gardens, which were for the most part were her creations. In 1981, Viscount Hereford sold Haseley Court with 85 acres to Desmond and Fiona Heyward.

After their stopover, Ellen flies to Dublin to visit the latest Ordway castle before returning to Northeast Harbor while Gertrude Legendre retreats to Fishers Island.

May 1967
York Castle - Tangier
York Castle, view of the port of Tangier.
York Castle, Tangier.
York Castle, with its distinctive crenellated tower.
York Castle.
Charles Baskerville, sketching from the rooftop of York Castle.
Sunbathing at York Castle.
"Charlie and Gertrude aswim in the pool."
At table: Gertrude Legendre, Betty Houghton, Arthur Houghton, Pamela Braga, and Inigo de Toledo.
Pamela Braga and Inigo de Toledo.
Charles Baskerville.
Gioia Marconi Braga.
"The snake charmer is still hard at work outside our door."
Charles Baskerville in the casbah.
Inigo de Toledo. Charles Baskerville and Gertrude Legendre with the York Castle major domo. Pamela Braga.
Charles Baskerville and Gertrude Legendre, café-sitting in the medina.
"The veiled ladies."
Charles Baskerville, Betty Houghton, Gertrude Legendre, and Gioia Marconi Braga.
Charles Baskerville and Arthur Houghton.
"Abdullah, our butler."
"Meena, our wonderful cook."
3 June 1967
SAA Morocco to Rhodesia
Salisbury, Rhodesia. Aerial. Rhodesia, also called Southern Rhodesia, later became known as Zimbabwe. Originally named for Sir Cecil Rhodes, Rhodesia is bordered by South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Mozambique.
Rhodesia. Volcanic rock formations.
Rhodesia. "An electric clock entirely made of flowers."
One of the world's largest dams, the Kariba Dam is on the Zambezi River between Zambia and Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). In 1964, Northern Rhodesia became Zambia.
Gertrude Legendre makes her way around Victoria Falls on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Victoria Falls. "355 feet high and 1.5 miles long, 75 million gallons of water go over the falls every 60 seconds."
Victoria Falls.
"We took a boat trip on the Zambezi with about 30 others …"
"Our new friend."
"From Victoria Falls, Walter is driving Gertrude and I to the Wankie National Park."
"A view of the countryside."
"Forests of teakwood …"
" A herd of zebras along the way."
Gertrude Legendre.
The Wankie Game Preserve is now known as the Hwange National Park, the largest game reserve in Zimbabwe.
"Our path from the Main Camp."
Elephants along the way.
The park hosts 100 mammal species and more than 400 bird species.
Along the Kalahari plains.
Despite recent poaching incidents, the elephant population is said to be increasing.
The ever-changing panorama.
Giraffes on the move.
John Hatton, game warden.
John Stott, game warden.
Giraffes at the watering hole.
Giraffe reflections.
Elephants make up the largest number of mammals at the park.
Another herd on the move.
"The circled camps are where we stayed."
A herd of antelope.
A checkpoint in the park.
Nantwich Lodge.
"The view."
"The ants are busy."
The Mountain Inn.
"Our view of the highlands."
"The Manchester Gardens."
Gorongosa National Park
Gorongosa National Park. Mozambique. A 2,400-square-mile park, the Gorongosa is located at the southern end of the Great African Rift Valley in central Mozambique.
"Gorongosa Park headquarters."
Ellen Glendinning Ordway, a consummate photographer, as ready to shoot the wildlife of Palm Beach as the wilds of Mozambique.
"They just had dinner with a water buffalo …"
"Keeping the family together …"
"I zeroed in on this gentleman …the King of the Jungle."
17 June 1967
The Ritz Hotel — London
"Our suite at The Ritz."
John Ordway.
Gloria Ordway, the first Mrs. Peter Ordway.
Lesly Ordway.
June 1967
Haseley Court - Oxfordshire

" Nancy Lancaster invites us to spend a few days …"
"Our hostess (Miss Perkins of Virginia) flies the Confederate flag over her castle …" The imposing three-story limestone façade features a triangulated pediment above the central entrance. The four outer bays were added in 1754. The entrance hall has a stone fireplace and is flanked by the parlor and dining room. The 1754 additions feature a double-high drawing room and a ballroom. Although topiary gardens were reported during the 19th century, Nancy Lancaster created new gardens during the mid-1950s.
Haseley Court.
Haseley Court, garden.
Nancy Lancaster, at work in the garden.
Haseley Court, garden.
Haseley Court, topiary garden.
The guest house. "When Nancy leases the main house, she stays here …"
Décor by Nancy Lancaster, Colefax and Fowler.
Nancy Lancaster's country chic style.
Haseley Court, interior.
Haseley Court, interior.
Balrath Bury (now the Lord Belmont Inn)
Kells, County Meath

"I fly to Dublin to visit Peter and Bridget Ordway …"
Balrath Bury. Peter and Bridget Ordway's house.
Balrath Bury, port cochere.
Balrath Bury, garden.
Balrath Bury, façade.
"Peter and Bridget love getting around their property in this pony-drawn wagon …"
The Parish Church of St. Martin's
Bladon, Oxfordshire

In loving memory of …
Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan is buried here.
Next: Chapter XXXIII — Down East, Fall 1967

Brooke Astor reads a birthday poem to George Garrett.
Ellen Glendinning Ordway Photograph Collection courtesy of Gayle Abrams & Lucius Ordway Frazer.
Augustus Mayhew is the author of Lost in Wonderland: Reflections on Palm Beach