The 9th Earl of Coventry - George William
A Grand Old Man of Worcestershire the 9th Earl of Coventry
An Earl at the age of 4
George William Coventry was born in 1838 but within six years both of his parents were dead. He became an Earl at the age of four but he couldn’t claim his inheritance until he was aged twenty-one in 1859.
It was then he inherited Croome Court and its 15,000 acre estate. He took on his huge responsibilities with enthusiasm and treated all his tenants and employees fairly. The estate ran smoothly and he was well respected by all.
In 1865, he married Lady Blanche Craven. They had six sons and three daughters. He died in 1930 at the age of 92. He had been Earl for 88 years and was the longest serving English Peer in the House of Lords, a record which still stands today.
The Model Country Gentleman
The 9th Earl took great pride in his estate. He bred a herd of fine Hereford cattle and won over 300 prizes at the Royal Show.
However, horses were his chief passion. The 9th Earl’s racing colours were a brown body with a blue cap. They were carried to victory in consecutive Grand Nationals by his horses; Emblem in 1863 and Emblematic in 1864
When he was 20, he became the youngest ever steward of the Jockey Club. He enjoyed hunting and had his own pack of hounds still known today as ‘The Croome’.
" Whilst painting the Earl’s horse the artist Sir Francis Grant PRA wrote…He is a magnificent animal, as wise as a man & as gentle as a woman. He is the very best sitter I ever had and perfectly understands that he is sitting for his picture..."
The 9th Earl of Coventry took great pride in Croome Court and its estate of 15,000 acres, which was in his care for 71 years.
He was not a moderniser, but did maintain the property to a high standard.
A Respected Landlord
The 9th Earl was a great advocate for agriculture and rural communities in general. He spoke publicly in support of farmers and highlighted the need for the country to produce more of its own food. Locally, the Earl set up a jam and pickle factory.
The Baccarat Scandal
In 1890, the 9th Earl attended a house party where Sir William Gordon-Cumming was accused of cheating in a high-stakes game of baccarat, a popular card game at the time.
The Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) was also present. Gordon-Cumming denied the allegation, but, despite the efforts of the 9the Earl, the matter became public. Both he and the Prince were required to give evidence in the High Court where Gordon-Cumming was found guilty. However, the decision proved unpopular with the public and the Prince of Wales was booed at Ascot shortly after the trial.
Safeguarding his Ancestor’s vision
At the end of World War I, the 9th Earl was concerned that his estate might be sold off and broken up after his death, so, in 1921, he placed the estate in the hands of the Croome Estate Trust.
This far-sighted action ensured that the 6th Earl’s original vision of the house and its landscape was restored for us all to enjoy today.
" ...Going into the Saloon and looking up at the beautiful decorations of the ceiling which have never been touched since 1760, one marvels at the skilled workmanship of that time and its wonderful beauty..."
Until Death Us Do Part
Within an hour of the Earl’s death on 13 March 1930, Blanche retired to her bed, not ill, but having no desire to go on living. She passed away three days after her husband at the age of 87. They had shared life together and had a joint funeral service.
Their coffins were draped with wreaths woven from orchids grown on the Croome estate.