Monday, 20 February 2017

The new Crockett & Jones website




The new Crockett & Jones website is now live. We have designed and developed the new site with our customers in mind, offering in-depth and interesting information coupled with rich videography and photography. Authenticity and transparency runs through every page, and we hope you enjoy discovering all of the new features.


THE HOME OF FINE ENGLISH SHOES
Northampton, situated in the heart of England, is a town renowned for its shoe industry – the history of which goes back hundreds of years.

Cordwainers (a medieval term for shoemakers) were first attracted to the county of Northamptonshire because of the area’s thriving tanning industry. Every village and town within the county had its own cordwainers, the number of whom would continue to grow throughout the middle ages.

By 1642, the reputation of Northampton town had grown so much that 13 shoemakers were commissioned to produce 600 pairs of boots and 4000 pairs of shoes for England’s army going to Ireland. The order was fulfilled and it was now known that the town possessed the ability to produce footwear on a large scale.

The industry continued to flourish, propelled by previous successes, arguably in line with necessities of war. The town was called upon to produce army boots for multiple wars from the English Civil War to the Boer War centuries later. Demand for Northampton shoes became so strong that by the year 1841 there were 1,821 shoe makers in the town.

Machinery would soon follow enabling footwear to be produced on an industrial scale.

FIRST GENERATION
Crockett & Jones was established in 1879 by two brothers in law, James Crockett & Charles Jones.

James was raised by his grandfather Henry Marshall, who was a boot and shoe manufacturer in Northampton. James left school at the age of 10 to work as an errand boy before becoming an apprentice clicker. He would go on to work as a shoe maker in Worcester, London and Birmingham.

Charles, meanwhile, was from a long line (at least 3 generations) of respectable shoemakers in Northamptonshire, and was himself a clicker by trade. He married James’ younger sister, Annie Marshall – a shoe fitter, in 1873.

Six years after this marriage, James and Charles decided to go into business together but they lacked the necessary funds to open a factory.

To overcome this, they applied for, and were granted, a sum of £100 each from the Thomas White Trust which was established to ‘encourage young men of good character in the towns of Northampton and Coventry to set up business on their own’.

The first Crockett & Jones factory was a small building on Exeter Road, Northampton which housed the initial 20 employees. Family was crucial from the start as the firm employed two of Charles’ brothers, his sister and his wife.

Leathers were cut at the factory before being distributed to out-workers, who would take the parts home, complete their process and then return all components to the factory, where the shoes or boots could be completed.

Business flourished and production needed to expand, so in the early 1880s Crockett & Jones moved into premises on Carey Street allowing more and more work to be done inside the factory.

Here they would install the latest machinery invented by Charles Goodyear from the USA for stitching the upper and insole to a welt. This made the process much easier and faster whilst also providing a superior construction. It would be known as Goodyear-welting.

SECOND GENERATION
With the arrival of the 1890s came the 2nd generation of family to join the business; Harry Crockett, Fred Crockett and Frank Jones – sons of James and Charles respectively.

James Crockett and Charles Jones again recognised the need to find a larger factory for continued expansion of the business. By 1891 they had relocated to a new factory in Magee Street, where the company continues to produce footwear to this day.

Growth continued and although the majority of the shoes were sold in the home market, the company was beginning to develop an important export market by ‘following the flag’ through the British Empire.

The continued success meant the relatively new factory was soon reaching its production capacity.

So, in 1910, a 5-storey factory expansion commenced that was the first steel structured building in Northampton. It benefited from a huge proportion of glass to give superb natural lighting for production – an asset which is still integral for the workforce.

Crockett & Jones now had an established reputation as one of the best shoe makers in the country and in 1911 were awarded the Diploma of Honour at the International Manufacturing Exhibition in Turin for their footwear designs.

In the same year as this success, James’ youngest son Clifden Crockett joined the company, followed a year later by Percy Jones, Charles’ youngest son.

The quality and reputation of Crockett & Jones footwear at this time had become so revered that the firm was asked to provide specially designed boots for an Antarctic expedition. They proved so successful that C&J was requested to produce boots a 2nd time for the Shackleton Endurance Expedition in 1914.

When the First World War broke out, both Clifden Crockett and Percy Jones were called upon to serve their country, and, in a sense, so was Crockett & Jones. The company manufactured boots for the army, with production increasing so that over 600,000 pairs were being made in a year.

Sadly, Clifden was killed in action in 1916 during the Battle of Pozieres Ridge aged just 22. Percy however was lucky enough to return to Crockett & Jones after the war, and would become a partner within 4 years.

1924 was a year of great pride for all at the company. Crockett & Jones was honoured with a visit from the future King George VI who paid great attention to the shoe making process on a tour around the factory, led by recently knighted Sir James Crockett.

THIRD GENERATION
In 1927 Gilbert Jones, son of Frank, joined Crockett & Jones. There were now 3 generations working together for the first time, truly cementing the status of Crockett & Jones as a family company.

The period after the First World War was one of consolidation for the UK as the home market was beginning to change, increasingly influenced by fashion. The demand for women’s shoes had grown over the years and was in fact so strong that ladies’ footwear would soon account for more than 60% of total production at Crockett & Jones.

As the company continued to grow, a second wing was added to the factory in 1935 to provide a new office block, showroom and in-stock department. The original front door was moved from Magee Street to Perry Street where it is still used as the main entrance today, retaining its impressive 1930s Art Deco design.

Soon, war would again rear its ugly head, and Crockett & Jones would be called upon once more to manufacture shoes and boots for the armed forces.

In fact, the company made over 1 million pairs over the course of the war, and, as many of the workforce left to fight, many retired men and married women returned to work as part of the war effort.

After the war, in 1946, Clifton Crockett, grandson of Sir James, joined the company. He would stay for 6 years before leaving in 1952, making him the last member of the Crockett family to work at Crockett & Jones.

A year later, in 1947, Richard Jones, son of Percy and grandson of founder Charles, joined the business after serving in the Royal Navy.

The post war era once again led to some interesting changes in market tastes in the UK with everchanging ‘fashions’. This, combined with the effects of war on the supply of materials and ability to export, meant Crockett & Jones had to reassess its position in the marketplace.

Throughout the 1950s the bulk of production was sold in the home market, although the overseas market had begun to expand again so that by 1962 around 18-19% of the total output was exported. By this time, production focus had returned more to producing men’s shoes.

Beginning in the 70s, times proved to be much harder for the Northampton shoe industry with increased competition from the global markets, predominantly in the form of cheaper imports. There still remained more than 100 small family firms making shoes in Northampton, a significant number but a huge reduction nonetheless from the early 1900s.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Daisy, Princess of Pless




Daisy, Princess of Pless
Daisy, Princess of Pless (Mary Theresa Olivia; née Cornwallis-West; 28 June 1873 – 29 June 1943), was a noted society beauty in the Edwardian period, and a member of one of the wealthiest European noble families. Daisy and her husband Hans Heinrich XV were the owners of large estates and coal mines in Silesia (now in Poland) which brought the Hochbergs enormous fortune. Her extravagant lifestyle coupled with disastrous events and political and family scandals were tasty morsels for the international press.

Born Mary Theresa Olivia Cornwallis-West at Ruthin Castle in Denbighshire, Wales, she was the daughter of Col. William Cornwallis-West (1835–1917) and his wife, Mary "Patsy" FitzPatrick (1856–1920).[1] Her father, born William West, was a great-grandson of John West, 2nd Earl De La Warr. Her mother was a daughter of Reverend Frederick FitzPatrick and Lady Olivia Taylour, herself daughter of the 2nd Marquess of Headfort.


Memorial to Daisy in Pszczyna, Poland
During her marriage, Daisy, known in German as the Fürstin von Pless, became a social reformer and militated for peace with her friends William II, German Emperor and King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. During World War I she served as a nurse.

After her divorce at Berlin on 12 December 1922 she published a series of memoirs that were widely read in the United Kingdom, the United States, and, in the German language, on Continental Europe.

Hans Heinrich married as his second wife, at London on 25 January 1925, Clotilde de Silva y González de Candamo (1898–1978). This marriage produced two children, and was annulled in 1934. Subsequently Clotilde married her stepson, Bolko, and was the mother of Daisy's and Hans Heinrich's only grandchildren.

Daisy's brother George in 1900 married Jennie Churchill, the mother of Winston Churchill, as his first wife, and after their divorce married in 1914 Mrs. Patrick Campbell, the actress, as his second. Her sister, Constance, married in 1901 Hugh Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster, and after their divorce she married in 1920 James FitzPatrick Lewes.

On 8 December 1891, in London, she married Hans Heinrich XV, Prince of Pless, Count of Hochberg, Baron of Fürstenstein (1861–1938), one of the wealthiest heirs in the German Empire, becoming châtelaine of Fürstenstein Castle and Pless Castle in Silesia.

The couple had four children:

-Daughter (25 February 1893 – 11 March 1893).
-Hans Heinrich XVII William Albert Edward (2 February 1900 – 26 January 1984), Prince of Pless, Count von Hochberg and Baron of Fürstenstein. Married twice but had no issue.
-Alexander Frederick William George Conrad Ernest Maximilian (1 February 1905 – 22 February 1984), Prince of Pless, Count von Hochberg and Baron of Fürstenstein. Unmarried and childless.
-Bolko Conrad Frederick (23 September 1910 – 22 June 1936), who later caused an scandal by marrying his stepmother Clotilde de Silva y Gonzáles de Candamo (Hans Heinrich XV's second wife).
The Princess maintained her links with English society, appearing with her children in Country Life magazine.

The Princess of Pless was a Dame of the Order of Theresa of Bavaria and of the Order of Isabella the Catholic of Spain, and was awarded the German Red Cross Decoration.

Daisy, Princess of Pless, died in 1943 in relative poverty at Waldenburg, today Wałbrzych, Poland.

The Secret of the Necklace
The married couple's residency was a Książ Castle in Silesia. However, Daisy didn't like this place, she preferred another castle which belonged to them – Pszczyna.
She received a pearl necklace from her husband who knew of her weakness for beautiful jewelry. It was 6.7 meters (22 feet) long and one of the most expensive necklaces in the world. Legend says however, that the pearls were cursed by the pearl diver who died while collecting them.
Daisy wore this elaborate necklace during official meetings. When she appeared with this overwhelming piece of jewelry in London, she became a sensation. Daisy liked the life of a public person and she maintained her links with English society, appearing with her children in Country Life magazine.
The pearls became a symbol of the best period in her life. Nevertheless, after her death, people started to believe that they were the reason for many troubles in her life.




Thursday, 16 February 2017

The Victorian Button Boots / VIDEO:How to button up Victorian boots




“High button boots were the dominant boot style for men and women through the end of the century. In the 1880s, James Morley began production of high button boots with a new sewing machine attachment that more securely stitched the buttons. The making of one pair of boots from start to finish could be accomplished in 15 minutes. Boots featured between 12-20 buttons depending on individual style and taste, and either a scalloped design around the button hole or a simple and plain lap. As the style continued into the 1890s, actresses and dashing women favored the high button boot for it’s fashionable method of hiding the ankle while hinting at the leg. The iconic Gibson Girl is shown wearing high button boots in the Edwardian style after 1900.


Because so many tiny buttons were on the boots, the button hook was invented. At first, they were a luxury item, but as they became more common they were viewed as a regular dressing accessory, much like a hairbrush and mirror. Button boots were considered more secure than laced boots because they didn’t come unlaced or loosen with wear through the day. Certainly there were many other styles of boots available for men and women, but just a quick browse through an antique ladies’ magazine will reveal that the high button boot was considered the most fashionable, the most modest, and the most necessary type of boot for ladies to wear. Men were encouraged to own a pair of laced shoes for bad weather, a pair of Oxfords for the summer and a pair of button up boots for all other occasions.

After the turn of the century, the high button boot lingered until World War 1. In 1914, rationing of leather and other goods necessary pushed the boots to the side and frugality took hold. The rise of hemlines and the flapper fashion demanded new shoe styles and the Mary Jane and T-strap styles took hold. In America, President Franklin Roosevelt in 1933 announced that high button shoes would no longer be indexed on the Bureau of Labor Statistics charts. While they had waned for many years, the high button boot was officially “over” after a good 30+ year run of dominating shoe fashions.”


"The Victorians certainly loved buttons. They'd use them everywhere. On their boots, on their gloves, on their corsets, on their jackets... It would take a woman hours to hook them all on her own. The solution? Button hooks. They came in all shapes and sizes. Some were as long as a foot to prevent the wearer from bending down when fastening buttons, while others were as small as a finger and could easily be carried around in a purse and used whenever it was necessary.

Button hooks could be elaborate, made of gold or silver and decorated with jewels, or simple and plain. But they all worked the same. Button hooks have a "hook" (obviously!) made from a loop of wire. The wearer would thread this hook through the button hole and grab the button with it. Then, she'd pull the button hook, with the button safely secured, through the hole, pull the hook free and start the whole process again with the next button. These hooks made dressing easier and faster for decades, before they started to go out of use after World War I. Nowadays they are found mostly in antique shops."

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Spats / VIDEO:How to strap WHITE SPATS over your shoes (One size fits all / JOHN PATRI...



Spats, a shortening of spatterdashes, or spatter guards are a type of classic footwear accessory for outdoor wear, covering the instep and the ankle. Spats are distinct from gaiters, which are garments worn over the lower trouser leg as well as the shoe.





Spats were primarily worn by men, and less commonly by women, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They fell out of frequent use during the 1920s. Made of white cloth, grey or brown felt material, spats buttoned around the ankle. Their intended practical purpose was to protect shoes and socks from mud or rain but this footwear also served as a feature of stylish dress in accordance with the fashions of the period.

Increased informality may have been the primary reason for the decline in the wearing of spats. In 1913, friends scrambled to help Griffith Taylor find spats and a top hat to receive the King's Polar Medal from King George V. In 1923 King George V opened the Chelsea Flower Show, an important event in the London Season, wearing a frock coat, gray top hat and spats. By 1926 the King shocked the public by wearing a black morning coat instead of a frock coat (a small but significant change). This arguably helped speed the Frock coat's demise (although it was still being worn on the eve of the Second World War). Spats were another clothing accessory left off by the King in 1926. Interestingly it is said that the moment this was observed and commented on by the spectators it produced an immediate reaction; the ground beneath the bushes was littered with discarded spats.

From New York in 1936, the Associated Press observed that "in recent years well-dressed men have been discarding spats because they have become the property of the rank and file." A revival of high-top shoes with cloth uppers was forecast to replace them.

The third reason is probably the most significant, and the most prosaic—once western city streets became cleaner; due to the replacement of horses by cars and the use of asphalt and concrete—there simply was much less filth about and consequently much less need for "spatterdashes". Although some elderly men continued to wear them into the 1950s as part of their business garb, since the Second World War the wearing of Spats seems to have been confined to places like the Royal Enclosure at Ascot or very fancy private weddings.





The wearing of spats is often used as symbolic shorthand to represent wealth, eccentricity, or both. In some cases, these depictions occur long after spats ceased to be a normal part of everyday menswear but those from before the 1950s are usually making an allusion to "ordinary" upper-class standards of deportment and class. An example of this is Irving Berlin's song "Puttin' on the Ritz", which mentions spats along with a variety of other elements of formal clothing that were common when it was written.

The wearing of spats by fictional characters such as Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot, P. G. Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster, Lord Peter Wimsey and Jean de Brunhoff's Babar the Elephant for example is mostly intended to underline the conventional nature of the characters involved. They are elegantly turned-out prosperous gentlemen of the period; it would be odd if they did not wear spats.

Rich Uncle Pennybags, the iconic man from the Monopoly board game, and Walt Disney's Scrooge McDuck are slightly more satirical, alluding to someone undeniably adept but possibly a bit stuck in the past. This is very similar to the obsessed scientist or absent-minded professor.

In a similar vein, in the film Some Like It Hot (made in the 1950s but set in the 1920s), the mob boss is called "Spats" Colombo, because he regularly wears spats, thus providing an ironic contrast between his aspirational gentility and his actual thuggish behavior. Similarly The Penguin from Batman is drawn wearing spats along with a suit with tails and in Who Framed Roger Rabbit Toon Patrol the chief weasel Smart Ass, also wears spats (probably a direct allusion to Spats Colombo).

Spats seem inappropriate on these creatures because they patently lack the genteel qualities that the presence of spats suggests. Together with white gloves and a monocle, spats are part of the symbolic shorthand to represent wealth, eccentricity, or both.

This is connected with the wearing of spats as a symbol of a drop in class. Here a man is trying to retain status in the face of declining circumstances; Charlie Chaplin's "little tramp" is an example of this as are several of W. C. Fields's characters, Burlington Bertie and Bustopher Jones from Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Prince John, the Lost Prince / VIDEO: Prince John having a severe epileptic fit at his grandfather's funeral(f...






Prince John of the United Kingdom (John Charles Francis; 12 July 1905 – 18 January 1919) was the fifth son and youngest of the six children born to King George V and his wife, Queen Mary. At the time of John's birth, his father was the Prince of Wales and heir apparent to the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, Edward VII. In 1910, George succeeded to the throne upon Edward's death and John became the fifth in line of succession.

In 1909, John was discovered to have epilepsy. As his condition deteriorated, he was sent to live at Sandringham House and was kept away from the public eye. There, he was cared for by his governess, "Lala" Bill, and befriended local children whom his mother had gathered to be his playmates. Prince John died at Sandringham in 1919, following a severe seizure, and was buried at nearby St Mary Magdalene Church. His illness was disclosed to the wider public only after his death.

Prince John's alleged seclusion has subsequently been brought forward as evidence for the inhumanity of the royal family. However, records show that the Prince was in some ways given favourable treatment by his parents, in comparison to his siblings, and contrary to the belief that he was hidden from the public from an early age, John for most of his life was a "fully-fledged member of the family", appearing frequently in public until after his eleventh birthday.

His long acknowledged learning disability and a possible intellectual disability have both been linked to his severe epilepsy; recent speculation finds some behaviors consistent with autism.


Birth
Prince John was born at York Cottage on the Sandringham Estate on 12 July 1905, at 3:05 a.m.[3] He was the youngest child and fifth son of George Frederick, Prince of Wales and Mary, Princess of Wales (née Mary of Teck). He was named John despite that name's unlucky associations for the royal family,[4] but was informally known as "Johnny". At the time of his birth, he was sixth in the line of succession to the throne, behind his father and four older brothers. As a grandchild of the reigning British monarch in the male line, and a son of the Prince of Wales, he was formally styled His Royal Highness Prince John of Wales from birth.


John was christened on 3 August in the Church of St Mary Magdalene at Sandringham, the Reverend Canon John Neale Dalton officiating. His godparents were King Carlos I of Portugal (his third cousin once removed, for whom the Prince of Wales stood proxy), the Duke of Sparta (his first cousin once removed), Prince Carl of Denmark (his uncle by marriage and first cousin once removed, for whom the Prince of Wales stood proxy), Prince John of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (his great-great-uncle, for whom the Prince of Wales stood proxy), Alexander Duff, 1st Duke of Fife (his uncle by marriage, for whom the Prince of Wales stood proxy), the Duchess of Sparta (his first cousin once removed, for whom Princess Victoria of the United Kingdom stood proxy), and Princess Alexander of Teck (his first cousin once removed, for whom Princess Victoria stood proxy).


Early life and illness

Much of John's early life was spent at Sandringham with his siblings—​Prince Edward (known as David to the royal family), Prince Albert, Princess Mary, Prince Henry and Prince George—​under the care of their nanny Charlotte "Lala" Bill.[4] Though a strict disciplinarian,[note 2] the Prince of Wales was nonetheless affectionate toward his children;[7] the Princess of Wales was close to her children and encouraged them to confide in her.[8] In 1909, John's great-aunt, the Dowager Empress of Russia wrote to her son, Emperor Nicholas II, that "George's children are very nice ... The little ones, George and Johnny are both charming and very amusing ..."[9] Princess Alexander of Teck described John as "very quaint and one evening when Uncle George returned from stalking he bent over Aunt May and kissed her, and they heard Johnny soliloquize, 'She kissed Papa, ugly old man!'"[10] George once said to U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt that "all [his] children [were] obedient, except John"—​apparently because John alone, among George's children, escaped punishment from their father.

Though a "large and handsome" baby, by his fourth birthday John had become "winsome" and "painfully slow". That same year he suffered his first epileptic seizure and showed signs of a disability, probably autism. When his father succeeded as George V upon Edward VII's death in 1910, John was awarded the title "His Royal Highness The Prince John". John did not attend his parents' coronation on 22 June 1911, as this was considered too risky for his health; nonetheless, cynics said that the family feared their reputation would be damaged by any incident involving him. Although John was deemed not "presentable to the outside world," George nonetheless showed an interest in him, offering him "kindness and affection".


During his time at Sandring­ham, John exhibited some repetitive behaviors as well as regular misbehaviours and insubordination: "he simply didn't under­stand he needed to [behave]." Nonetheless there was hope his seizures might lessen with time—​. Contrary to the belief that he was hidden from the public from an early age, John for most of his life was a "fully-fledged member of the family", appearing frequently in public until after his eleventh birthday.

In 1912 Prince George, who was nearest in age to John and his closest sibling, began St. Peter's Court Preparatory School at Broadstairs. The following summer, The Times reported that John would not attend Broadstairs the following term, and that George and Mary had not decided whether to send John to school at all. After the outbreak of World War I, John rarely saw his parents, who were often away on official duties, and his siblings, who were either at boarding school or in the military. John slowly disappeared from the public eye and no official portraits of him were commissioned after 1913.


Wood Farm
In 1916, as his seizures became more frequent and severe, John was sent to live at Wood Farm, with Bill having charge of his care. Though John maintained an interest in the world around him and was capable of coherent thought and expression with his lack of educational progress the last of his tutors was dismissed and his formal education ended. Physicians warned that he would likely not reach adulthood.

At Wood Farm, John became "a satellite with his own little household on an outlying farm on the Sandring­ham estate ... Guests at Balmoral remember him during the Great War as tall and muscular, but always a distant figure glimpsed from afar in the woods, escorted by his own retainers." His grandmother Queen Alexandra maintained a garden at Sandring­ham House especially for him, and this became "one of the great pleasures of [John]'s life."

After the summer of 1916, John was rarely seen outside the Sandring­ham Estate and passed solely into Bill's care. After Queen Alexandra wrote that "[John] is very proud of his house but is longing for a companion," Queen Mary broke from royal practice by having local children brought in to be playmates for John. One of these was Winifred Thomas, a young girl from Halifax who had been sent to live with her aunt and uncle (who had charge of the royal stables at Sandring­ham) in hopes her asthma would improve. John had known Winifred years earlier, prior to the outbreak of World War I. Now they became close, taking nature walks together and working in Queen Alexandra's garden. Leslie Saward Heath (born 1914 in Wolferton Station House), whose Grandfather was Harry Leonard Saward RVM MVO, the Royal Station Master at Wolferton from 1884-1924, also played with Prince John at the farmhouse. John also played with his elder siblings when they visited: once, when his two eldest brothers came to visit John, the Prince of Wales (formerly Prince Edward) "took him for a run in a kind of a push-cart, and they both disappeared from view."


John, pictured on a postcard from c. 1912-13
Death
As John's seizures intensified (Bill later wrote) "we [dared] not let him be with his brothers and sister, because it upsets them so much, with the attacks getting so bad and coming so often." Biographer Denis Judd believes that "[John]'s seclusion and 'abnormality' must have been disturbing to his brothers and sister", as he had been "a friendly, outgoing little boy, much loved by his brothers and sister, a sort of mascot for the family". He spent Christmas Day 1918 with his family at Sandring­ham House but was driven back to Wood Farm at night.

On 18 January 1919, after a severe seizure, John died in his sleep at Wood Farm at 5:30 p.m. It is now known, due to modern autopsy techniques, that people with epilepsy may die of it, with no other illness or injury contributing to death nor to the etiology of the condition.

Queen Mary wrote in her diary that the news was "a great shock, tho' for the poor little boy's restless soul, death came as a great relief. [She] broke the news to George and [they] motored down to Wood Farm. Found poor Lala very resigned but heartbroken. Little Johnnie looked very peaceful lying there."

Mary later wrote to Emily Alcock, an old friend, that "for [John] it is a great relief, as his malady was becoming worse as he grew older, & he has thus been spared much suffering. I cannot say how grateful we feel to God for having taken him in such a peaceful way, he just slept quietly into his heavenly home, no pain no struggle, just peace for the poor little troubled spirit which had been a great anxiety to us for many years, ever since he was four years old." She went on to add that "the first break in the family circle is hard to bear, but people have been so kind & sympathetic & this has helped us much." George described his son's death simply as "the greatest mercy possible".


On 20 January the Daily Mirror said that "when the Prince passed away his face bore an angelic smile"; its report also made the first public mention of John's epilepsy. His funeral was the following day at St Mary Magdalene Church, John Neale Dalton officiating.Queen Mary wrote that "Canon Dalton & Dr Brownhill [John's physician] conducted the service which was awfully sad and touching. Many of our own people and the villagers were present. We thanked all Johnnie's servants who have been so good and faithful to him." Though nominally private, the funeral was attended by Sandring­ham House staff; "every single person on the estate went and stood around the gates and his grave was absolutely covered in flowers." Queen Alexandra wrote to Queen Mary that "now [their] two darling Johnnies lie side by side".


Legacy

Prince John (right) and Prince George photographed during a royal shopping trip.
Prince Edward who had hardly known John, saw his death as "little more than a regrettable nuisance." He wrote to his mistress of the time that "[he had] told [her] all about that little brother, and how he was an epileptic. [John]'s been practically shut up for the last two years anyhow, so no one has ever seen him except the family, and then only once or twice a year. This poor boy had become more of an animal than anything else." He also wrote an insensitive letter to Queen Mary, which has since been lost. She did not reply, but he felt compelled to write her an apology, in which he stated that "[he felt] like such a cold hearted and unsympathetic swine for writing all that [he] did ... No one can realize more than [she] how poor little Johnnie meant to [him] who hardly knew him ..." He went on to state "I feel so much for you, darling Mama, who was his mother." In her final mention of John in her diary, Queen Mary wrote simply "miss the dear child very much indeed." She gave Winifred Thomas a number of John's books, which she had inscribed, "In memory of our dear little Prince." "Lala" Bill always kept a portrait of John above her mantelpiece, together with a letter from him which read "nanny, I love you."

In recent years, Prince John's seclusion has been brought forward as evidence towards the "heartlessness" of the Windsor family, According to a 2008 Channel 4 documentary, much of the existing information about John is "based on hearsay and rumour, precisely because so few details of his life and his problems have ever been disclosed," and the British Epileptic Association has stated, "There was nothing unusual in what [the King and Queen] did. At that time, people with epilepsy were put apart from the rest of the community. They were often put in epilepsy colonies or mental institutions. It was thought to be a form of mental illness," adding that it was another twenty years before the idea that epileptics should not be locked away began to take hold.[29] The royal family believed that these afflictions flowed through their blood, which was believed to be purer than the blood of a commoner, and, as such, wished to hide as much as possible in regard to John's illness. Others have suggested that John was sent to Wood Farm to give him the best environment possible under the "austere" conditions of World War I. Undoubtedly the royal family were "frightened and ashamed of John's illness", and his life is "usually portrayed either as tragedy or conspiracy". At the time that Edward VIII (formerly Prince Edward) abdicated, an attempt was made to discredit Prince Albert, who had succeeded as George VI, by suggesting that he was subject to falling fits, like his brother. In 1998, after the discovery of two volumes of family photographs, John was briefly brought to public attention.



The Lost Prince is a British television drama about the life of Prince John – youngest child of Britain's King George V and Queen Mary – who died at the age of 13 in 1919.

A Talkback Thames production written and directed by Stephen Poliakoff, it was originally broadcast in January 2003. It won an Emmy Award in September 2005.


John suffered from epileptic seizures and an autism-like developmental disorder, and the Royal Family tried to shelter him from public view; the script shied away from presenting the Royal Family as unsympathetic, instead showing how much this cost them emotionally (particularly John's mother, Queen Mary). Poliakoff explores the story of John, his relationship with his family and brother Prince George, the political events going on at the time (such as the fall of the House of Romanov in 1917) and the love and devotion of his nanny, Charlotte Bill.

Episode One

A spellbound young Prince John gazes as his family attend an elaborate birthday party for his pampered and indulged grandmother, Queen Alexandra, held at Sandringham in Norfolk during the winter.

When summer arrives there is much excitement again as Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarina Alexandra, and their children, visit their relatives, the British royals at the Isle of Wight. The Russians entrance Prince John with their exotic splendour. It is clear, even at this stage, that Johnnie, a charming and attractive boy, has an eccentric view of the world and is uninhibited in a way that is alien to his parents. His ailing grandfather, King Edward VII, loves him for his frankness. It is clear also that his nanny, Lalla, is reluctant to reveal the seriousness of his medical condition.

While the populace of the capital gaze into the night skies to catch a glimpse of an approaching comet, Johnnie's parents are called to Buckingham Palace to be by the King's deathbed.

During the funeral attended by all the heads of state of Europe, including the Kaiser Wilhelm, Johnnie succumbs to a serious epileptic fit. Queen Mary, Johnnie's mother, summons doctors to examine him and their diagnosis confirms her and Lalla's worst fears. Lalla volunteers to look after Johnnie to prevent him being sent to an institution. The two of them are to be sent to Sandringham, where Johnnie is to be prevented from encountering anybody but the closest members of his family.

His sibling, Prince George, who has always treasured Johnnie, swears to protect him. Johnnie, now a few years older, is deprived of the company of any children and finds the schooling of his tutor, Hansell, unfathomable. Although lonely, he always takes an optimistic view of life. Then one day, to the acute embarrassment of King George V and Queen Mary, he speaks his mind at a tea party held for Prime Minister H.H. Asquith and his Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lloyd George.

Johnnie is summoned to London to be re-examined by the doctors. During his stay he is taken by his brother George up to the minstrel's gallery looking down on the banqueting hall of Buckingham Palace, to observe a grand state occasion. The assembled dignitaries are chattering feverishly about the poise with which the Queen has dealt with the intrusion of a suffragette, who has confronted the Queen to demand her support for women's emancipation.

During the banquet Asquith and Lloyd George are called back to Downing Street to receive the news that is to prove to be the catalyst for the start of the First World War.

The following morning Johnnie receives a rare audience with his father King George, who shows him his treasured stamp collection. Johnnie is more interested in his father's pet parrot, Charlotte. Suddenly, father and son are interrupted by the King's Private Secretary, Stamfordham, who has come to relay the news of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Realising that the news has been withheld from him, the King erupts in fury. Unnoticed by the adults, Johnnie pursues Charlotte, as the terrified bird flies away into the bowels of the building. The Queen, Lalla and George go searching for Johnnie and his mother is shocked when she sees, for the first time, one of Johnnie's debilitating fits. In the midst of scurrying officials gathering for urgent diplomatic meetings, Johnnie is secreted out of the Palace and back to the isolation of his country estate.

Episode Two

Prince George witnesses the brinkmanship of the allies in the face of the belligerent posture taken by Germany. Much to the surprise of all concerned, the weak and vacillating Tsar of Russia mobilises his troops and plunges Europe into war. Against his wishes, George is sent to the harsh Naval Academy where his rebellious nature leads him to question the propaganda about the cruelty of the German armed forces.

Propaganda combined with the disastrous consequences of the conflict on the battlefield of Flanders turns the public's attention to the German ancestry of the British royal family. The trauma of war is even felt by Johnnie, Lalla and their household, who are forced to live in increased isolation in Wood Farm, on the fringes of the Sandringham estate. Prince George is determined, however, to maintain contact with Lalla and his brother. He arrives to relay the news that the family is to change its name to Windsor and that the Tsar of Russia has abdicated and is to be exiled in Britain by the Bolshevik revolutionaries.

George is alarmed at the reaction of his own subjects and persuades Stamfordham to press Lloyd George to reverse the invitation to the Tsar. Johnnie dreams innocently of his Russian cousins coming to live with him and is being prepared by Lalla to give a recital to his parents. King George and Queen Mary are traumatised by what follows -- the execution of the Romanovs. Weighed down by the effects of the conflagration that has enveloped Europe, they find consolation when their son Johnnie dies in his unbounded optimism and unalloyed love of life. We know that George and Lalla will be comforted every day of their lives by remembering his pure and untarnished character.


Reception & awards
The drama won a high viewing figure and much praise, was released on VHS and DVD, and was repeated on BBC One in January 2004. A further repeat showing followed on BBC Two in January 2006. It is now occasionally shown in two parts on the BBC cable channel UK History. Both Miranda Richardson and Gina McKee received Best Actress nominations at the British Academy Television Awards. The miniseries was also nominated for BAFTA TV awards for editing (Clare Douglas), music (Adrian Johnston), and photography (Barry Ackroyd).

After presentation in the United States in October 2004, it won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries in 2005. Miranda Richardson was nominated for a Golden Globe.

It was also repeated on BBC Two on 14 & 21 November 2009.


A life in drama: Stephen Poliakoff
'What really buys you freedom is being successful. So long as you deliver, they leave you alone'

Saturday 28 November 2009 00.05 GMT

For someone best known for Shooting the Past, a television drama apparently so slow and un-televisual that BBC executives begged him to speed it up, Stephen Poliakoff is a very fast talker. Sentences tumble into one another, thoughts jerkily digress, regroup and change their angle of attack. Ideas flit in and out of focus as all the while a plastic drinking straw is furiously twiddled between his fingers. Outlining details of his latest venture, Glorious 39, his first feature film for 12 years, Poliakoff makes glancing references to George W Bush, Bulldog Drummond, the history of the wire tap and Norfolk's evergreen oaks in expressing his fascination and horror at the aristocratic and establishment appeasers who, in the run-up to the second world war, mounted a desperate last effort to do a deal with Hitler in the hope of retaining their power and privilege.

Poliakoff's 1999 play Talk of the City had addressed the BBC's reluctance to broadcast news of Jewish persecution in Nazi Germany before the outbreak of the war. "But for some reason I didn't then ask the obvious question as to what was going on in the political and aristocratic elite. I sort of accepted that Chamberlain was this rather boring figure with a silly umbrella and it all worked out in the end. But then I read up on the period and found out what an incredibly close run thing it was. There was just a tiny band of people around Churchill who were up against most of the Tory party, the aristocracy, the royal family and the newspaper editors of the time. My mother's family were aristocratic Jews and leading figures in the Liberal party. If the appeasers had won and Britain had become a Vichy-style state, she would certainly have been taken away. I became very interested in how close I came to not being here."

Although Poliakoff's early plays were aggressively contemporary – "appalling hamburger bars, subterranean discos, early versions of karaoke, neon and violence" – it is for his idiosyncratic treatment of the past that he is best known today. "But I didn't really write about my Jewish background until I was into my 40s." More or less oblique references to the Holocaust and the 1930s cropped up in Shooting the Past (1999), Perfect Strangers (2001) and Joe's Palace (2007) before the more direct study in Glorious 39. "So both my parents were dead by the time I really addressed the subject," he says, before, for the first time, abruptly stopping the apparently endless flow of conversation.

"It really hadn't occurred to me until this moment that – and it's such an obviously glaring fact now I say it – those things could be linked. I didn't really write about Jewishness and what happened to the Jews until my parents died."

In Perfect Strangers, a character says: "If you dig hard enough, there are at least three great stories in any family" and Poliakoff's use of the family as the arena in which wider events reverberate has became as characteristic in his work as the large mysterious houses, the archives of sound or images, or the hidden corners of history.

Neither Churchill nor Chamberlain feature in Glorious 39, in which the drama is played out in the aristocratic Keyes family whose adopted daughter, played by Romola Garai, begins by feeling "very secure in this world, but when it begins to unstitch it happens incredibly quickly", explains Poliakoff. "That's what happened all over Europe for Jewish people who had lived happily among their neighbours for years. Then it changed. In the case of Vienna, it changed within hours.

"One minute it was a café society and everything going along nicely. Then Hitler entered and people were watching through the windows as their Jewish neighbours were cleaning pavements and being spat at. It shows how an apparently civilised surface can crack open to reveal the darkness incredibly quickly, as most recently happened in the former Yugoslavia. We never had to face up to our antisemitism after the war because of our brave and proud history – and it was brave and proud. But it was a damn close run thing, and the forces trying to do a deal were incredibly powerful. It really could have happened here."

Poliakoff was born in London in 1952 into a home that was both "quite formal and quite chaotic". His father's family had come to the UK from Russia in 1924, having witnessed the revolution from their flat near Red Square before escaping – with a diamond smuggled in a shoe – when Stalin came to power. His inventor grandfather died when Poliakoff was a child, but his grandmother lived on into his adulthood telling "amazing stories that lasted only a few seconds, which she told with absolutely no elaboration. So she'd say, 'I once saw Tolstoy and followed him down the street to see how many people recognised him'. And that was it. She saw the first production of The Cherry Orchard but never said a word about how it was received."

Poliakoff's father and grandfather's firm produced, among other things, hearing aids – including Churchill's – and later invented the hospital bleeper. The family were great Anglophiles even when they lived in Russia, and Poliakoff says his father was obsessed with manners and became very snobbish. "There was a lot of tension in the house about using correct forks, and even into the 1990s he would kiss women's hands." Although the business was sometimes financially precarious, the firm bought a Rolls-Royce, which would pick Poliakoff up from school. "And then my father would speak to the headmaster just to mention that he had 'brought the Rolls today'."

Poliakoff had been the only Jewish boy at his prep school and fellow pupils would watch him carefully to see which bits of the Lord's Prayer he said. In those days, he says, he twiddled a stick between his fingers, not a drinking straw. His education continued at Westminster school, where he wrote a play that was reviewed in the Times. Christopher Hampton had just been appointed as the first resident dramatist at the Royal Court, and part of his job was "to go prospecting". "So I heard about this play at Westminster and went along," he says. "Stephen was much as he is now: nervous, clearly very bright with too many things on his mind to formulate complete sentences. His play was extremely promising and I got the Royal Court to commission another one from him which, in time-honoured Royal Court fashion, they ended up deciding not to do."

Hampton remembers even then a "distinctive writing personality. Like everyone's first plays, it was unsophisticated and ragged round the edges – but it had a real intensity. And then, as now, he seemed to be slightly off the rhythm in that the work is sort of jazzy, you don't get quite what you expect." Poliakoff says the cancelled play, which Richard Eyre was due to direct, was his "first lesson in how devastating showbiz can be. Shortly afterwards my mother, who was far too interested in my career having wanted to be an actress herself, said to me that, despite being only 17, my career 'was going nowhere', which I thought was a bit harsh."

The following year Poliakoff was invited to participate in a now notorious theatre project when seven radical fringe theatre writers, including Howard Brenton, Trevor Griffiths and David Hare, collaborated on an experimental work, Lay By, about a rape and its consequences. "It verged on the pornographic," Poliakoff recalls. "I had to look up some of the sexual terms in a dictionary. I was very much the baby of the pack and only actually contributed a few lines, but it did have an interesting effect. Naturalism was frowned upon at the time, and the sort of heightened realism I felt I was gravitating towards wasn't part of their world. The others weren't terribly interested in evoking time and place or psychological character development, and that helped to define me, albeit in a negative way, because at least I realised what I was not."

Poliakoff says he has always thought of himself as being on the left. "But I never wanted to be didactic or agitprop or even polemical. I was more interested in celebrating complexity. I've always thought people are more complex than the marketing men, or the political class, or the media class give them credit for. People can contain two contradictory ideas in their heads at the same time, so telling them what to think at the end of a play insults their intelligence. There are ways of showing different ways in which the world might be ordered. But not by pointing them out. Instead you try to deal with the complexity."

Poliakoff went up to Cambridge to read history but left before completing his degree. He says he was too late for 60s euphoria and optimism, and by the time he was writing on the fringe it was against a backdrop of the "brutal rebuilding of Britain. All those city centres torn up and redesigned for the car, which now seems ridiculously short sighted. This all coincided with a tottering minority Labour government held up with IMF loans, huge industrial unrest and bombs going off in Northern Ireland. My first big success, Hitting Town (1975), was about a brother and sister retreating from the violence into an incestuous night. It was private reaction to public bleakness."

That his early plays were almost exclusively urban and contemporary he says, in hindsight, must have been some sort of reaction against his background. "Both of my parents were born before the first world war and had very old-fashioned views that were quite claustrophobic. My father's love of Georgian architecture and Rolls-Royces, my mother's fascination with matinee idols and people like Rex Harrison, this was a 30s view of Britain carried through into the 60s and 70s. I wanted to write about what I saw around me."

He also wanted his work to be seen by as large an audience as possible. He remembers "stumbling across" Pinter's A Night Out on television when he was 10 or 11. "I was completely alone and had no context for it, but thought it was fascinating and also that it was the norm, which in a way it was as 11 million other people watched it." He says even though the Times didn't carry television reviews until well into the 80s, "it was both sexy and artistically credible to be on TV. Dennis Potter was already famous. John Osborne and Tom Stoppard did television work. There were plenty of role models and I had no problem moving between TV and theatre."

Poliakoff's television breakthrough came in 1977 with the nuclear thriller Stronger Than the Sun in the BBC's Play for Today slot. His 1980 television film Caught on a Train, starring Peggy Ashcroft, won a Bafta. While he acknowledges that its success encouraged the BBC to allow him more freedom, he also says "Everybody had more freedom back then. There was always a bureaucratic thing about money, but no one was ever told how to write. The tradition was to put on the writer's vision."

But by the time he returned to television in the late 90s, after a period working in the theatre and making feature films, both he and the medium had changed. Breaking the Silence, his 1984 RSC tragicomic play set on a train just after the Russian revolution, had been his first serous attempt to deal with both his, and the continent's history. "Then Michael Jackson [controller of BBC1 at the time] said he wanted something that people would remember. Which did make me a bit cross because I thought I'd done that once or twice already. But I did attempt to write something completely different to what was on television." Written and directed by Poliakoff, Shooting the Past starred Timothy Spall and Lindsay Duncan in a story about a battle for a picture library. It was written in irregular length episodes with long, slow scenes that lingered over photographs and faces.

"I wanted to fight the idea that people couldn't concentrate for long, and when it was finished all hell did break loose. By now they did try to tell you how to write, and some relatively junior executives thought it should be cut and made quicker, which would have ruined the whole point of it. I went bananas and eventually won the battle. So it wasn't a question of being invited by the BBC to do what I liked.

"People did try to interfere, but I resisted them and was ultimately proved right." He followed up with the Bafta winning Perfect Strangers (2001) the Emmy winning The Lost Prince (2003) and Golden Globes for Gideon's Daughter (2005). "What really buys you freedom is being successful. So long as you deliver, they leave you alone."

Lorraine Heggessey, a former head of BBC1 and now chief executive of Talkback Thames, Poliakoff's long-time producers, says the degree of control he exercises is indeed exceptional. "The fashion for some time, and I've been part of this myself, is to edit everybody. You give them input to 'improve' their work. And in most cases it works. But sometimes you can also dilute things and you lose some of the original artistic vision. Stephen's vision remains intact and his work, in the theatre or on television or in the cinema, is instantly recognisable. And anyway, such is his personality that it's difficult not to let him do his own thing. He cares so much and puts so much into his work that of course there can be tensions. But someone once said to me: 'Work with the best, not the easiest.' And who are we to judge? You get the brilliance because of the purity of vision."

Poliakoff still expresses strong opinions about TV drama – most recently when he identified "Kafkaesque committees" at the BBC – and enjoys talking shop about Saturday night schedules, the impact of DVDs and reminiscing about the time, not so long ago, when The Lost Prince premiered against ITV's big gun of A Touch of Frost and between them pulled in 21 million people.

His next project will be a new stage play – "contemporary and urban" – and in future he intends to work simultaneously in the theatre, film and television. "I have some ideas for more movies, but I'm not giving up television. I want to write a 20th-century story but I might not direct it, as I just won't have the time. The alternative is not to write for television at all, and I have so many more things I want to do. But not a single person I've told believes that I'll be able to let go enough to allow someone else to direct. We'll see. I'm interested myself to see how it turns out."

Prince John The Windsors Tragic Secret