Callington U3A Feb article

‘The Mystery of the Royal letters’

On a dismal January day we were cheered by a very professional and entertaining talk by Janet Cowlard. Janet, who had an interest in the Royal family, was delighted when her husband bought, at a stamp auction, 5 letters written from various royal residences. None of the letters had envelopes or a clue who they were from. Some had dates but no year, and only through thorough research did Janet find out the years they were written. She was able to do this by the events mentioned in the letters. For instance one black edged letter, used after a bereavement, brought her to conclude it was in memory of Empress Eugenie, so she had a clue about what year it was written.  Janet even wrote to our late Queen Mother for information as to who might have written them.

The letters from a mother to her daughter were full of local gossip, news of weddings, and of shopping trips with Queen Mary.  Janet told us about the Queen being careless about acquiring items she coveted, sometimes even resorting to kleptomania! Our present Queen Elizabeth has in fact returned many of the treasures to their rightful owners. Much more careful research and background checks led to the conclusion that the letters were from Lady Elizabeth Dawson to her daughter Kaitilin. Lady Elizabeth was appointed as a Lady of the Royal Bedchamber in the early 1920’s. In her position she was able to tell her daughter of happenings at court, and of visits to Sandringham and Balmoral. We heard about the clothes and jewellery of guests, family sickness, and their connections to European royalty.

Lady Elizabeth died aged 55, a short while after she fell and broke her hip while out walking at Balmoral. Her daughter Kaitilin went on to marry into the aristocracy and became the mother of an alleged notorious murderer. We were asked not to reveal the end of Janet’s story, so you will have to watch for one of her talks, and be surprised at what a load of research and 5 hand written letters can reveal.

By Jane Black   Callington U3A

Monthly meetings the first Monday at Callington Town Hall 10am next meeting 6th Feb.