The Onslow family at Clandon Park - Part 2

The 4th Earl of Onslow

The Onslow family have been associated with Clandon Park since 1641. Neglect during the time of the 3rd Earl was followed by glorious restoration thanks to the 4th Earl. All was well at Clandon until 1914, when war came to Britain.

The Clandon revival

In 1870 William Hillier Onslow, aged just 17 found himself the 4th Earl and owner of Clandon Park. He sold land to pay for repairs, redecoration and improvements but had to negotiate with ‘hated Aunt Augusta’ for family heirlooms which he eventually bought back at auction.
Having revived Clandon he became more active in national affairs. He became Lord in Waiting to Queen Victoria but is best remembered for his role as Governor of New Zealand where he spent four years.

A wartime house

When Britain entered the war in August 1914, Lord and Lady Onslow were keen to play their part in the war effort. They felt that Clandon might have wartime uses and submitted their application to the War Office.
Violet Bamfylde, Countess of Onslow
A portrait of Lady Onslow
Violet Bamfylde, Countess of Onslow

Daughter of the 3rd Baron Poltimore, Violet Bampfylde was a prominent society figure and married Richard Onslow in 1906. During the First World War Lady Onslow took charge as Commandant of Clandon Park Hospital. She also became responsible for two nearby convalescent hospitals.
Lady Onslow proudly wore her uniform in public but described the lack of respect often experienced by women in uniform, which were associated with servants or the suffragette movement. She wrote of being pushed aside in taxi ranks and of being ignored by society friends.
Richard Onslow was a career diplomat, enjoying a successful career in Morocco, Spain, Germany and Russia. He returned to England to marry Violet and inherited the Earldom in 1911. When war broke out Lord Onslow became a Special Constable. He organised bridge-watching duties and was also tasked to ensure that villagers destroyed all strong alcohol in case of invasion.
Richard, 5th Earl of Onslow
A portrait of Lord Onslow
Richard, 5th Earl of Onslow

In June 1915 he joined the Army as an intelligence officer, ending the war as a Colonel. He was awarded the Légion d’honneur for his work in France and was mentioned three times in dispatches. After his war service he entered politics and was appointed Under Secretary of War.
Similarly, when the Second World War arrived, the Onslows moved out and the house was given over to the Public Records Office.
Lady Gwendolen Onslow, Countess of Iveagh
A portrait of Lady Gwendolen Onslow
Lady Gwendolen Onslow, Countess of Iveagh

The last Onslow at Clandon

During post war austerity it was almost impossible to keep a large country house afloat. Clandon's saviour was Gwendolen, Hillier’s daughter. Having married into the Guinness family and become Countess of Iveagh, she was able to purchase the house from the 6th Earl and to give it to us.