Historians say there is no evidence of Lillie Langtry’s connection to Camden
Langtry Walk is named after Lillie Langtry [Mike Quinn]
SHE was one of the brightest stars of the Victorian era, a socialite and wealthy actress who lit the stage and left intrigue in her wake – not least because of a royal scandal.
Those fascinated by the life story of Lillie Langtry were so in love that they went so far as to give her name to Two Camden Roads, while a pub bearing her name still stands in South Hampstead.
These tributes, however, were all based on the long shared history that she once lived in a house on the site where the Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate now sits.
But two local historians warned this week that they had bad news, saying there was virtually no evidence to suggest she ever called the area home.
Dick Weindling and Marianne Colloms spent years going through censuses, rate registers and voter lists without being able to find her.
âPeople are not going to like it,â Mr. Weindling said.
âThey won’t thank me for this job, and it’s not going to go well. But it’s an important exclusive message that has never been said before. I always suspected that she didn’t live there, but I could never prove it. After years of research, we can’t do more.
The common acceptance was that Ms Langtry had lived at Leighton House at 103 Alexandra Road and that there was even a nationwide press campaign to save the property before bulldozers flattened the ground to build the estate at Rowley Way in the years. 1970.
It has been claimed that it was here that Mrs Langtry had seduced Edward VII, then Prince of Wales.
Their relationship became a public scandal after they were spotted riding together through Hyde Park. Ms Langtry’s husband, Ned, later brought an affair to Old Bailey, labeling the Prince as adultery.
When the new estate, famously designed by Neave Brown, was built, âLangtry Walkâ was the way through it. There is also Langtry Road nearby, and the former Princess of Wales pub had already been renamed The Lillie Langtry in 1969.
Mr Weindling said: âI would say I have been researching Lillie Langtry for 30 years. I became particularly interested because we couldn’t find any research indicating that she lived there. We have now gone through all the registers, all the census data, all the newspapers. I went through all the biographies. There is nothing “
Mr Weindling said the story of his life at Leighton House first appeared in The telegraphs and Time newspapers before its demolition, but insisted that there was no record of his life there. The paperwork instead places it in West London.
According to Mr Weindling, the royal connection to 103 Alexandra Road was concocted as part of a “last ditch” to keep it from being demolished.
Actress Adrienne Corri was among those to sign a petition to save the house and the story was picked up by the nationals.
Mr Weindling said: âI think what happened was Camden Council told the owner they wanted to demolish the whole street. At this point, she is launching a campaign. She would have said that she had seen Lillie’s ghost in her room and had been visited by her for many years. He went straight to the wire. Government inspectors were brought in, but it was deemed not worth preserving.
Ms Langtry, who had performed in plays on both sides of the Atlantic and owned her own stable of racehorses, died in Monte Carlo in 1929 and was buried in Jersey.
Her husband, Ned, had a tragic end, Mr Weindling said. âHe never wanted to divorce. In the end, he falls on a boat, hits his head and is taken to a lunatic asylum, where he dies.
Mr Weindling and Ms Colloms have written a detailed research article which is first published today (Thursday) on their website http://kilburnwesthampstead.blogspot.com/