Little College Street, LondonDame Eva Anstruther

London image from original - courtesy of Robert Maxtone Graham 2001.

Dame Eva and Harry Anstruther had a stormy marriage. They lived, almost permanently, separate lives from 1912 onwards, soon after the purchase of "Kitcot" - The Old Court House - Whitchurch (Buckinghamshire). The Anstruther Guest Book, quoted frequently in various zones on this site, remained with Harry at Whitchurch.

Little College Street - Westminster, London.

Adjoining Barton Street, this was the street of the London house of Harry and Eva Anstruther where they lived during the years that Harry was a Member of Parliament. The residence was called Cowley House. They also kept the house in Hertfordshire.

The (1903) pen-and-ink drawing was inherited by Robert Maxtone Graham from his mother, Jan Struther, Harry and Eva's daughter. It is by Adeline S. Illingworth who was born in 1858. Adeline S. Illingworth exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1897. Additionally she is known to have drawn Westminster Abbey. She was also an engraver. According to Jan Struther, her parents' house was the one facing, at the end of the street, with the pair of clipped bay (it is presumed) trees over the front door. The street is within the Division Bell area, and so was ideal for Harry Anstruther as a Member of Parliament and Whip.

In the December of 1912 - about three years before she chose to live totally apart from Harry Anstruther, Dame Eva leased land in Hampshire on the Beaulieu Estate of the then Lord Montagu. A house was subsequently built and Dame Eva named the house "Pan's Garden".

The naming of Pan's Garden is of interest. The following is an edited extract written about the house, "Pan's Garden", and it is reproduced here with the kind permission of the writer.

Pan's Garden - 2002 - photograph courtesy of Robert Maxtone Graham and the present owners of the house."In 1912 Lord Montagu leased the land to the Hon. Eva Anstruther of Little College Street, Westminster for 99 years at an annual rent of 25. There had long been a connection between the Anstruther and Hussey families, and one of the Husseys had become a Montagu so it is possible that Eva Anstruther learned of the availability of the site through personal connections with the Montagu family.

There were no buildings on the site in 1912. Dame Eva had the house built (architect unknown) and gave it the name “Pan’s Garden”. According to Beaulieu estate records, the house contained a very large, ornate and curious altar “in honour, it was thought, of Pan himself ”. There were also appropriate statues to Pan in strategic positions throughout the garden.

The lease on the house was sold in about 1920 and Dame Eva moved away. After her death, in 1935, her family found among her books some 37 on black magic and 66 on cookery - though she was never known to cook. They also found a photograph of a personal enemy with pins stuck in it. Perhaps this is a sufficient explanation of the naming of the house. But there is probably more to it than that.

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries there was a considerable cult of Pan in England. Pan emerges as a major god in Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley and others and became the most frequently cited deity in English literature. The cult reached its apogee between the mid-1890s and 1914. There are references to Pan in Oscar Wilde, Matthew Arnold, James Elroy Flecker, Walter de la Mare and E.M. Forster. In 1908 Kenneth Grahame published “The Wind in the Willows”, Chapter 7 of which is entitled “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn”, one of the more striking literary evocations of Pan.

In most of these cases Pan is portrayed as the personification and guardian of the English countryside and the patron of rural tranquillity. The whole cult was in large part a reaction against the ugliness and brutality of the industrial urban environment where most English people now lived. So the name “Pan’s Garden” was by no means so unusual or exotic as it may seem today. To Dame Eva’s contemporaries it might well have seemed a rather obvious choice."

The same writer, generously updating information in July 2003, has been able to clarify and extend some of the details mentioned above. Courtesy of the privately published (March 2003) memoirs of Elizabeth (Varley) Montagu, sister of the present Lord Montagu, he notes that in Elizabeth Montagu's view, she [Dame Eva Anstruther] "was a bit of a mystic" and that, Elizabeth, as a girl, playing with Joyce (the later writer, Jan Struther, Eva's daughter - who was some eight years older than Elizabeth Montagu) had been captivated by the "large and curiously ornate chimney piece, which appeared to serve as an alter to Pan, of whom there were statues throughout the garden."

In the Appendices of the same volume may be found a report of the funeral of Lady Montagu (Elizabeth's mother) - a piece from the Hampshire Advertiser of September 20th, 1919 - in which Dame Eva is mentioned as being present. Significantly, it also records the attendance of Colonel Sir Edward Ward with whom Dame Eva is known to have had a relationship (see Biographyle). The writer points out, "This is the first evidence we have seen that Dame Eva was at all close to the Montagus."

Notwithstanding the possibility of her association being the result of the Hussey-Anstruther/Hussey-Montagu connection previously suggested by the writer, there is earlier evidence of this - albeit circuitous - to be seen in the The Anstruther Guest Book (for August 25th, 1906) which records a visit of Drummond Chaplin (with his wife, Marguerite) to the Anstruther home in Hertfordshire - several years before the Anstruther separation.

From December 1914 until 1923, Chaplin held the position of Administrator of Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)- with Ernest Montagu. taking the position of acting Administrator on two occasions. It is more than likely, therefore, that Dame Eva was - in her own right - closely connected with and operating within that same milieu - and thus gained the advantage of the 1912 grant of Beaulieu land.

1919 is significant, too, because it places a date stamp on Dame Eva and Edward Ward as an accepted couple by that time. As the writer observes, on the evidence of Elizabeth Montagu's memoirs, " ... there would have been no need in that circle to keep such a liaison secret. There were many other more colourful relationships going on."

Site Note

Sackville-West, Wolf, Paget, Smyth, Keppel and Kit (Clementina) Anstruther Thomson.

Southern Rhodesia - Administrators
24 Jan 1901 - 2 Nov 1914  Sir William Milton 
2 Nov 1914 - 24 Dec 1914  Sir Francis James Newton (acting)
24 Dec 1914 - 15 Oct 1919  Francis Drummond Percy Chaplin  (b. 1866 - d. 1933)(1st time)(from 1917, as Sir Francis Drummond Percy Chaplin)
15 Oct 1919 - 14 Dec 1919  Clarkson Tredgold (acting)
14 Dec 1919 - 10 Sep 1920  Sir Francis Drummond Percy Chaplin (2nd time)
10 Sep 1920 - 10 Dec 1920  Ernest Montagu (1st time) (acting)
10 Dec 1920 - 15 Nov 1922  Sir Francis Drummond Percy Chaplin (3rd time)
15 Nov 1922 - 10 May 1923  Ernest Montagu  (2nd time) (acting)
10 May 1923 - 21 Sep 1923  Sir Francis Drummond Percy Chaplin (4th time)

Further reading of the Appendices to Elizabeth Montagu's memoirs reveals that by the spring of 1920, Dame Eva was sufficiently close to Lord John Montagu for the widower to feel comfortable in enlisting her support on social occasions. An American lawyer who was visiting Lord Montagu, on being told by Dame Eva that his Lordship was still out fishing, wrote afterwards, "I gathered that my host was a widower and that Dame Eva Anstruther ... was accustomed to act as chatelaine at his weekend parties."

TOP of page

Clara Taylor, Lady's Maid, reminiscences.For an account of Dame Eva's family - its lifestyle and relationships - click on the inset image (adjacent). Dame Eva's Lady's Maid, between 1907 and 1914, was Clara Taylor but she retained an association with the family long after that. In 1948, she was invited to write her reminiscences of those days in service. Remarkably, a typescript copy of her reflections has survived and is reproduced by kind permission of Dame Eva's grandson, Robert Maxtone Graham.

Clara Taylor writes candidly and clearly about the kind of life she led and about the relationships between Dame Eva and her two children and between Dame Eva and her husband. She was part of the move to Pan's Garden and even had a hand in helping to decorate the dining room walls! She was later to work alongside Dame Eva in London during the First World War. It was this war service - as an administrator for the Camps Library, with Ward in charge - that gained Eva Anstruther the honour of Dame - an honour for which she was recommended by Sir Edward himself.And so, Prunella ...

In the same year that Dame Eva Anstruther leased the Beaulieu land, a book was published (1912) by the writer Algernon Blackwood. His book, a collection of short stories based on paranormal themes, was titled "Pan's Garden". Re-published (September 2000) with an introduction by Blackwood's biographer, Mike Ashley.

Blackwood and Dame Eva would have moved in similar social and literary circles as well as holding similar interests in matters mystical and philosophical; it is possible, therefore, that they knew each other - and/or that the house was named thus after the book title. Certainly, Dame Eva wrote a fiction titled "The Influence of Mars".

Anecdotal family information from Babs Anstruther (Dame Eva's second daughter-in-law) places Dame Eva as becoming increasingly involved in psychic and spiritual movements - the paranormal, Theosophy, Scientology and the Natural philosophies - minority but flourishing movements of her era, especially within the literary and artistic circles in which she moved. The course of the First World War with its subsequent human loss and the intense grief generated by its carnage and destruction also led many more people into such areas of search and respite. With the aftermath of war comes remembrance. 'The Great War' was supposed to have been the war "to end all wars" and the anniversary of the 1918 Armistice was adopted as "Remembrance Day". Thus November 11th each year has become a day when all wars and all sacrifices are remembered. On this topic there is one letter in particular, dating from just after this era (1927) and addressed to "Prunella" - presumed to be the familiar name of a family member - that is of social and philosophical interest. Click on Dame Eva's bookplate to read this powerful and reflective letter.

TOP of page

Family Archives Index Page