Grace Maple, Lady Weigall was born 1876 to John Blundell Maple (1845-1903) and Emily Harriet Merryweather (1856-) and died November 1950 of unspecified causes. She married Hermann von Eckardstein (1864-1933) 1896 in St. Albans Cathedral, United Kingdom. She married William Ernest George Archibald Weigall (1874-1952) 16 August 1910 in Metheringham, Lincolnshire, England, United Kingdom.
Grace was the only surviving child of a very successful businessman. She had two marriages, producing a daughter in each, and had a succession of affairs, at least two of which produced a child, secretly fostered out.
Grace and her second husband and their daughter spent some years in South Australia, where he was Governor.
When her father died in 1903, his estate was worth over 2 million pounds. He had carefully arranged for her to have her own money so that it could not be touched by her husband. Her annual income started at 36,000 p.a. for five years then rose substantially. She bought 40 acres (16 ha) of land near Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire. In 1905 she built a magnificent country home, Petwood, which was her retreat during the unhappy last years of her first marriage and to which she was able to invite her second husband. Its name arose from its being constructed in her favourite wood, her "pet wood".
She was very generous with her money.
Outwardly she appeared happy in the early days of the marriage. In October 1906 the New Zealand Herald carried a story "[FROM THE SOCIETY PAPERS.]" as follows:
- "Bright, kindly, and popular as ever is the Baroness von Eckardstein, only daughter of the late Sir Blundell Maple, who in her girlhood was one of the most petted and indulged young ladies in England. The genial Baronet of Childwickbury and Tottenham Court Road was an enthusiastic sportsman, and his racing and shire studs were a great delight to him, but it is quite safe to say that he found no pastime or hobby was half so interesting as his daughter. He was devoted to her and to her little girl, and he left her a large fortune, on condition, however, that she should spend eight months of every year in her native land. The Baroness von Eckardstein's income has recently been increased by the [10,000 pounds] a year her mother, Lady Maple, forfeited in order to marry again. Baron von Eckardstein is a yachting man, and well known at Cowes. The baroness has no liking for the sea, but she is very keen on motoring, and owns a beautiful car. She dresses beautifully, is fond of society, entertains largely, and is at the present time greatly interested in the bungalow she is building at Woodhall Spa. She has a hobby for collecting old French furniture, so that her new house is sure to be as delightful as wealth and good taste can make it."
The actual date of their divorce is unclear, but the proceedings reportedly lasted from 1907 till 1909. Baron von Eckardstein sailed in late 1910 by Cunard Line from Liverpool to New York and had an appendix operation on board.
A lengthy account of her London Divorce Court action for judicial separation appeared in the New Zealand Herald (supplementary section) - "New Zealand Herald, Volume XLIV, Issue 13513, 10 August 1907, Page 2".
Its introductory paragraphs included these:
"The baroness recalled a long series of misdeeds on the part of her husband. Even on the wedding day his conduct was such as to drive his bride to tears. On the honeymoon he preferred anybody's society to hers, and left her to her own devices.
"Over and over again she had paid his debts, he threatening to commit suicide or to leave her if she did not. At last she had to raise £200,000 for that purpose, thus depriving herself of £14,000 a year for life." And on and on, for over 70 paragraphs.
The article concludes:
- [A cable message published on July 12 stated that the Divorce Court had found Baron von Eckhardstein guilty of adultry [sic] and cruelty. As, however, the wife's domicile was in Berlin she only obtained a judicial separation.]
On 16 August 1910 in Metheringham parish church, Lincolnshire, "Gracy Emily, Baroness von Eckardstein", married William Ernest George Archibald Weigall (1874–1952). The populace welcomed him warmly, as noted in the Lincolnshire Echo of 23 August 1910.
Her second husband became MP for Horncastle, Lincs, from 16 February 1911 to 1920, then governor of South Australia 1919-1922, and is better known as Sir Archibald Weigall, 1st Baronet. He was the fifth son of the artist Henry Weigall by his wife Lady Rose Sophia Mary Fane (1834–1921), daughter of John Fane, 11th Earl of Westmorland by his wife Priscilla Wellesley-Pole, a niece of the 1st Duke of Wellington.
By 1912 Petwood was employing 14 gardeners and about 30 domestic staff. In that year the nearby Halstead Hall was purchased, adding a splendid hunting lodge to the estate, and around the same year they expanded the original house considerably.
Grace and Archie (soon joined by daughter Priscilla) lived at Petwood (except for their time in South Australia) until they moved to Englemere House near Ascot about 1933. She turned her former home into a hotel, managed initially by friends.
Petwood was requisitioned by the RAF during World War II. Towards the end of the war it was used as the Officers' Mess for the famous Dambusters 617 Squadron who were then based at nearby RAF Woodhall Spa. Inside the hotel the Squadron bar is dedicated to the brave men of 617 Squadron and has memorabilia from that period.
Englemere House was also wanted during World War II, but because it had been the home of two princesses it was declared a Royal Residence.
|Offspring of Grace Maple, Lady Weigall and Hermann von Eckardstein (1864-1933)|
|Kit von Eckardstein (1898-1917)|
|Offspring of Grace Maple, Lady Weigall and C J Williams (c1856-1941) ¢|
|Reginald Benwell (1906-)|
|Offspring of Grace Maple, Lady Weigall and Elidor Ronald Campbell (1881-1957)|
|Heather Campbell (1911-2004)||3 March 1911 39 Hill Street, Berkeley Square, Greater London, England, United Kingdom||28 June 2004 Wellington Region, New Zealand||Arthur Gordon Tovey (1901-1974)|
|Offspring of Grace Maple, Lady Weigall and William Ernest George Archibald Weigall (1874-1952)|
|Priscilla Crystal Frances Blundell Weigall (1914-1996)||1914 England, United Kingdom||1996 England, United Kingdom||Edward Curzon, 6th Earl Howe (1908-1984) Edward Curzon, 6th Earl Howe (1908-1984) Harold (Camel) Coriat (-1972)|
Grace had four children:
- Kit, born 1899; father Baron von Eckardstein, whom she later divorced on the grounds of cruelty
- Reginald Benwell, born 1906; father Dr C J Williams, who remained a friend of the family; somehow Grace managed to get the divorce court to believe that that infidelity and birth were fiction
- Heather Campbell, born 3 March 1911; father Elidor Campbell, son of the 3rd Earl Cawdor
- Priscilla Crystal Frances Blundell Weigall, born 1914; father Archibald Weigall.
Daughters by her husbands
Grace Emily Weigall suffered many miscarriages or phantom pregnancies, but bore a daughter, Kit (1899-1917), to her first husband and a daughter, Priscilla, to her second husband.
Reginald and Heather were both adopted out secretly at birth. Heather married artist Gordon Tovey in March 1930 and went to live with him in New Zealand. She searched and found the names of her parents after many years and met half-sister Priscilla in England. The events, along with much detail of the lives of Grace and her family, are recorded in the book "Searching for Grace", written partly by Heather and partly by her daughter Carol and published in 2010.
One of Grace's great-grandsons is actor Jake Weber.
- ^ Robert Jervis. Perception and misperception in international politics, p. 335 (online)
- ^ New Zealand Herald, Volume XLIII, Issue 13301, 6 October 1906, Page 6, as preserved by Papers Past at http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=NZH19061006.2.119.49.1 - found by Carol Henderson in 2015
- ^ He was operated upon for appendicitis, according to a report in the New York Times "Baron Eckardstein Had Appendicitis Crossing on Mauretania", (full version) published on the front page on 25 November 1910. The report states that the Baroness brought an action for separation for cruelty, which consisted in being forced to pay his gambling debts, amounting to two million dollars. Even in those days, when the pound was weaker than the dollar, this was a huge loss.
- ^ P. A. Howell, online version of 'Weigall, Sir William Ernest George Archibald (1874 - 1952)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, Melbourne University Press, 1990, p. 436. Retrieved 1 August 2009
- ^ Conqueror 60-65 Retrieved 1 August 2009. Also see Wikipedia entry for the 6th Earl Howe, and entries in several genealogies online e.g. the Peerage.com.