Reference code(s): GB 0074 F/RE
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
Title: READING, (DOWAGER) MARCHIONESS
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 0.38 linear metres.
Name of creator(s): Isaacs | Lady | Stella | 1894-1971 | nee Charnaud | founder of the Women's Royal Voluntary Service
Stella Charnaud was born in Constantinople in 1894, the daughter of the director of the tobacco monopoly of the Ottoman Empire. In 1914 she travelled to London to train as a secretary, and in 1925 she went to India as the secretary of Alice, Lady Reading, wife of the new Viceroy Rufus Daniel Isaacs, Lord Reading. Lord Reading was a lawyer, judge, diplomat, ambassador and politician. He was created marquess in 1926, becoming the first commoner to rise to this rank since Wellington.
Stella became Lord Reading's private secretary after they returned from India. He came to depend on her, and after Alice died of cancer in 1930, he and Stella were married in 1931. Lord Reading was 71 and Stella was 37. They had no children. Stella devoted herself to the marriage, but after his death in 1935, as the Dowager Marchioness of Reading, she stood out in her own right as capable and determined in support of various causes. In 1938 she was asked by the Home Secretary, Sir Samuel Hoare, to form a service of women to prepare for the civil dislocation inevitable during wartime. The result was the Women's Voluntary Service (WVS).
After the War Stella, while maintaining her leadership of the WVS, also served for other causes including Governor of the BBC, 1946-51, and chair of the Advisory Council on Commonwealth Immigration. She was awarded 5 honorary doctorates from universities around the world. In 1958 she was created Baroness Swanborough, becoming the first woman life peer to take a seat in the House of Lords.
Information from Windlesham, 'Isaacs , Stella, marchioness of Reading and Baroness Swanborough (1894-1971)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2011 and A. Lentin, 'Isaacs, Rufus Daniel, first marquess of Reading (1860-1935)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2011.
Scope and content/abstract:
Household financial account books of the Dowager Marchioness of Reading, for London and country residences including 65 Rutland Gate, Knightsbridge, London and Twyford Lodge and Cumberland House, Sussex. Also photographs of 65 Rutland Gate, London and Twyford Lodge; and portraits of Lord and Lady Erleigh.
ACCESS AND USE
Language/scripts of material: English
System of arrangement:
F/RE/01: Household journals; F/RE/02-04: Household accounts; F/RE/06-07: Photographs and portraits.
Conditions governing access:
Available for general access.
Conditions governing reproduction:
Copyright to this collection rests with the depositor.
Please see online catalogues at: http://search.lma.gov.uk/opac_lma/index.htm
Immediate source of acquisition:
Records deposited in 1971 and 1972.
Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.
Date(s) of descriptions: Records prepared May to September 2011.