Introducing Theodora, 4th Marchioness of Bristol (1875-1957)

Theodora a young woman Ickworth

Throughout 2018 we are exploring the role Theodora played in shaping Ickworth, the impact she made on the collection, the workings of the estate and the people who lived here.

Early Life

Alice Frances Theodora Wythes, known as Theodora or ‘Dora’ to her family, was born in 1875 in London. She was brought up by her mother as her father died eight months before she was born.  Theodora was a member of the second generation of rich, entrepreneurial, middle class families; thanks to her paternal grandfather who was a self-made millionaire railway contractor. When he died in 1883, his personal estate passed to his grandchildren and Theodora became a wealthy woman.

Marriage and Family

Captain Frederick Hervey, a navy man, and Theodora were introduced in Winchester and supposedly fell in love over a plate of macaroons. Frederick was not the original heir to Ickworth, however his brother died, leaving him to inherit in 1893. Despite both families disapproving of the relationship, Frederick and Theodora married in 1896 and had two daughters, Phyllis and Marjorie.

Lord and Lady Bristol in the grounds of Ickworth, with Meg the dog
4th marquess and amrchioness Ickworth
Lord and Lady Bristol in the grounds of Ickworth, with Meg the dog
" My father was in the Navy, he had nothing except his pay and when he proposed to her…her step father, a solicitor from Durham, was horrified because he thought that after all he was only marrying her because she was an heiress. "
- Phyllis MacRae