Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Daisy- the Socialist convert

I was flicking through a 1970s copy of the Post and Times and came across an interesting tale by George Lovenberry about the opening of the William Morris Labour Church in December 1896. The church- the Quaker Meeting House- was a monument to Morris in the town and was established shortly after his death by Larner Sugden. The artwork in the church owed a great deal to many followers of Morris in the Arts and Craft movement. The church had red painted walls with stencilled tracery. Woodwork was painted green and the curtains that hung there were blue velvet of one of Morris’s designs. Much of the work in the Church was carried out from designs by Walter Crane who signed Morris’s obituary in the Leek Times the previous October.

The Church was the centre resulted in the first Principal of the Nicholson Institute Kineton Parkes remarking that " intellectual and semi intellectual activity flooding the town".

It attracted the founders of the early Labour Movement, but it was the identity of a glamorous and very elegant woman who attended the opening that intrigued Mr Lovenberry. Originally he assumed the woman was Millicent, Duchess of Sutherland of Trentham Hall a well-known supporter of radical causes. It was not so as a later correspondent, a very young girl in 1896, disclosed. She wrote to the Post and Times revealing the true identity of the enigmatic beauty. It was Daisy Countess of Warwick a former lover of King Edward VII and a recent convert to Socialism.

The year before on reading an attack on her and her opulent lifestyle in the radical publication Clarion. Daisy rushed to London leaving a house full of guests to challenge the writer of the article Robert Blatchford. She explained to him that during difficult times that the events she held at Warwick Castle provided employment. He demonstrated to his lovely caller the nature of productive labour and the principles of Socialist economic theory. She returned to Warwick in a daze of new ideas and thereafter devoted her wealth and energy to propagating them to the acute embarrassment of her circle.

It also seems the 1892 popular song Daisy, Daisy was inspired by her. The song was famously used in the film 2001- a Space Odyssey