Interview 3: Joanna

aged - 80 (Danny’s youngest resident)

 

"Joanna has a particularly fascinating link with Danny house. Though she and her husband have lived here for just 18 months, she tells me today, her grandmother Alice Campion (otherwise known as Elsie) was the last of the line of the Campion family to have lived here. Danny was the family home of various members of the Campion line from the 1700’s (when Henry Campion married Barbara Courthope, Danny’s heiress) until the early Twentieth century.

Joanna has Elsie’s photo album, a treasure trove of images of garments from different eras modelled by her ancestors in which Danny is often the backdrop.

(in the great hall at Danny)

There are many images also, of course, of Elsie herself (including many taken in the grounds at Danny). They show her with Joanna’s uncles when they were small, in an outfit suitable for riding and in a series from just after she’d gotten engaged to Joanna’s grandfather. Joanna also has a small painting of Elsie as a girl in a blue dress.

Joanna herself grew up in Oxfordshire: “In a village where the Midford family were living, I used to see Unity Mitford often…” she tells me.

“Unity Valkyrie Mitford (styled The Hon. Unity Mitford): an aristocratic English socialite and devotee of Hitler. A prominent supporter of Nazism and fascism she was part of Hitler’s inner circle of friends. Following the declaration of WWII she attempted suicide whist in Germany. Later she was officially allowed safe passage back to England in her invalid condition, but never recovered. Her sister Diana was married to Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists.”

Yet Joanna does remember visiting her relatives at Danny as child. At various points in its history Danny has had between 7-10,000 acres at the time it was sold by the family the estate numbered some 2,000 acres. Joanna particularly remembers her grandmother’s love of gardening.

This wonderful series of photos captures Joanna in the gardens as a beautifully dressed child.

And these show her also in frills.

Otherwise the family photos show many scenes of weddings and related garments, including strangely see-through bridesmaid’s dresses that make me and Joanna smile: “I suppose they just can’t have realised at the time” she says laughing. There’s one of Joanna’s great aunt and uncle which shows a beautiful lace veil…

..and some of Joanna’s parent’s wedding

Other paintings Joanna has include one of her Great Aunt (Bridgit Campion) as a child and her Great Aunt Katherine Campion as an adult (middle row) as well as a painting done of her two uncles as small boys on a window seat in Danny’s great hall.

I was also struck today by two examples of historical bathing wear including one of the child Joanna.

“Costumes were woven/woolen of course,” Joanna says.

“Didn’t they smell awful when they got wet?” I ask

“Of course!” she says smiling.

And this image (I was intrigued by the fantastic hats!)

During following chats with Joanna, all sorts of fascinating details, regarding both her family tree and her own life story, start to emerge, so in the end I ask if she'd be prepared to write down a few of the main details for me (see below)."

- Stephanie Smart

"INTERESTING ANCESTORS:

Eliza Courtenay illegitimate daughter of Lord Grey and Georgina, Duchess of Devonshire.

Eliza married General Robert Ellice and their daughter, also Eliza, married William Brand, 1st Viscount Hampden of Glynde. Their daughter, Gertrude, married William Henry Campion of Danny and Combewell.

Another daughter of Viscount Hampden, Mabel, married the 1st Marquis of Willingdon who was Viceroy of India

(I can trace the line back to Charles 11 and his mistress Barbara Palmer, Duchess of Cleveland via the female line of the Dacres descending to the1st Lord Hampden but it is not very interesting.)

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I worked in London for MI5 and then went to New York where I worked for a post graduate school of New York University. This was the Institute of Fine Arts, for the study of the history of art and archaeology. We also had a department teaching the conservation of works of art, a science which, back in those days, was still in its infancy.  I was invited to go on the Institute’s excavation at Mendes in the Nile Delta of Egypt in 1963.  I spent three seasons on the excavation; it was hot!  I was fortunate enough to see a lot of exciting things and places in Egypt; a fascinating country.

The first major piece that I wrote, under my own name, was an account of a sailing voyage from Bergen to Iceland via the Shetlands and the Faroe Islands.  I did this with some Australian friends who had built the Evanna  near Melbourne and sailed her to Europe.  Yachting World published it virtually unedited and I subsequently wrote a number of articles principally geared to some aspect of life in France. We had done several trips with the Evanses including a fantastic exploration around the Solomon Islands on Evanna’s  proving  voyage.  This was something extraordinary, a place where a lot of history was made in the Second World War(battle of Guadacanal for example)  but that has not moved on much since and is still very primitive in most respects. It was fascinating. 

 

I took a long time researching a life of the 1st Prince Albert of Monaco. A number of people tried to get this published but the stiff old fogies in the Palace at Monaco refused to give their blessing which was because they did not like some of the less savoury truths.  It was a pity because he was an extremely interesting man.

I then published a book on the Hill family of Hawkstone, Shropshire.  The first family member of note was the first Protestant Lord Mayor of London who made the family fortune as a mercer in the City of London in the mid sixteenth century. My second published book was ‘A Very Canny Scot, Daniel Campbell of Shawfield and Islay’. My third book, published by the History Press, was ‘Wellington’s Right Hand, Rowland, Viscount Hill.’  This was published in hardback in 2011 and then in paperback in 2013".

- Joanna Bastin