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Great Houses

Modern Aristocrats

James Reginato

Great houses that have been in same family for centuries. By 1200, the Vernons had settled into Haddon Hall, a crenelated stone manor house in Derbyshire. In 1565 they married into the Manners family, who still live there. Broughton Castle, a moated redoubt in Oxfordshire, was last on the market in 1377, when it was bought by Sir John de Broughton. His descendant, the 21st Baron Saye and Sele, still there.

Blenheim Castle was gifted to Duke of Wellington by a grateful nation after Battle of Waterloo. Famously, he won it in a day, but his descendants have been fighting over it ever since. During WW2 Hitler ordered the Luftwaffe to avoid bombing it, bc he planned to move in there after invasion. Although Parliament voted initial £40,000 it was estimated to cost, it turned into a money pit. Even after completion that continued, with the need for funds meaning strategic marriages sometimes necessary. The 9th Duke of Marlborough married Consuela Vanderbilt - her mother coveted a duchesses coronet for her daughter; she provided a £2.5 million dowry (about $66 million in today's money). The 11th Duke of Marlborough, John George Vanderbilt Henry Spencer-Churchill, for his fourth marriage wed an Iranian of Indian extraction. Winston Churchill is a cousin, and was for a while heir presumptive, until the 8th Duke finally produced a male heir.

Similar rescue of one of the oldest Irish noble families - the 4th Lord Oranmore and Browne, when died aged 100 in 2002 was the longest serving member of House of Lords (72 years). He married Oonagh Guiness (Her grandfather was the richest man in Ireland, worth about $3.5 billion in today's money) and they ad 2 sons. The youngest died in a Lotus Elan in London and was immortalised by Beatles "I read the news today, oh boy ...." Elder brother passionate about historic Irish music and started Claddagh Records when no-one else would produce recordings (the Chieftains most famous group)

Lord Lambton, the 6th Earl of Durham, was sprung by the News of the World in bed with a couple of prostitutes and smoking a joint. He resigned from Parliament and decamped to Italy with his mistress and acquired a rundown villa near Sienna. When he died his son inherited everything, estates in England and villa in Italy. He had 5 older sisters, who, in line with primogeniture laws, got nothing. But they went to court to argue that their father had spent so much time in Italy that they should inherit shares based on the Italian rules. (They ended up settling by splitting the proceeds of a Lucian Freud portrait of their mother Head on a Green Sofa which Southerby's auctioned for £3 million. The 7th Earl went to Eton, which he hated. "My father went to Harrow, which he hated, so he sent me to Eton. He'd been sent to Harrow bc his father had hated Eton ..."

You can only call it a castle if it is defensible - has to have a gatehouse, a moat, and a certain amount of crenellation.

Goodwood House has been the seat of the Dukes of Richmond since 1697, when the first Duke, Charles Lennox, an illegitimate son of King Charles II and his French mistress Louise, acquired it. (By tradition, all the male heirs are named Charles) In 1948 the 9th Duke transformed an airfield that had been built during WW2 into a motor racing track. This has evolved into the Goodwood Festival of Speed (held every July) and the Goodwood Revival (in September)

Waddestown Manor in Buckinghamshire. One of 44 great houses the various branches of the Rothschild family built in the C19 - completed in 1883, so one of the most recent. For over 100 years there were no children in the house as it was passed to various elderly cousins. But bc the family kept intermarrying, they kept inheriting things. In 1957 it was bequeathed to the National Trust but with a deed that leases it back to the family.

In England Charles is the Prince of Wales. But in Scotland he's the Duke of Rothesay.

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