Today marks the 25th Anniversary of the Death of Daphne Fielding, Marchioness of Bath, who passed away on this day in 1997! The aristocratic ‘Bright Young Thing’ who was married to the 6th Marquess of Bath for 26 years and later became a noted author of books on High Society, we are using the opportunity to feature the spectacular Bath Tiara!
But first, lets learn about Daphne Fielding, Marchioness of Bath! The daughter of the 4th Baron Vivian and Barbara Fanning, who was raised at Glynn House in Cornwall, she was one of the Bright Young Things of the 1920s, coming out in the London Season of 1922, and having two more seasons, one paid for by an aunt because of her father’s reduced means. In 1926, she got secretly married to the then Viscount Weymouth, only surviving son and heir of the 5th Marquess of Bath, before having an official wedding the following year. The couple had five children, including the 7th Marquess of Bath and the Duchess of Beaufort, before he succeeded to the Title in 1946 and the Marquess and Marchioness moved to the magnificent Longleat House, not long after he had returning from being a Prisoner of War in Germany. Eventually, Lord and Lady Bath divorced in 1953, with them remarrying within days of each other, her to Major Alexander Wallace Fielding, who she later divorced in 1978. Daphne had begun writing about Longleat while still Marchioness of Bath, and in 1954, published her memoir ‘Mercury Presides’ of which Evelyn Waugh wrote:
Daphne has written her memoirs. Contrary to what one would have expected they are marred by discretion and good taste. The childhood part is admirable. The adult part is rather as though Lord Montgomery were to write his life and omit to mention that he ever served in the army”
There were several other books, including a biography of Gladys, Duchess of Marlborough, which achieved great success. After living in Cornwall, Morocco, Portugal, Uzes, and Arizona, she settled in the Old Laundry on the Badminton Estate, home of her daughter, the Duchess of Beaufort, and where she passed away in 1997.
Created in 1862 for the 4th Marquess and Marchioness of Bath, the Tiara is composed or ornate diamond festoons over a base of diamond hoops, which is made of diamonds taken from older family heirlooms.
One of the earliest images of the Tiara being worn was in the early 1910s, when it was worn by the 5th Marchioness of Bath for a portrait, which was rediscovered at Longleat House recently.
In 1938, the Tiara was worn by Daphne, then Viscountess Weymouth, when she and the Marquess joined Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent for a Ball at the newly restored Assembly Rooms in Bath. As the 5th Marchioness had passed away, she also likely wore the Tiara for the Coronation of King George VI in 1937.
The following year, Viscountess Weymouth wore the Tiara again for a Gala Performance at Covent Garden, held during the French State Visit in 1939, which appears to be her last prominent appearance, since the Marquess and Marchioness divorced right before the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, with the Marquess riding alone in the State Coach with footmen in yellow livery.
Lord Bath remarried the following month, but the Tiara does not seem to have been publicly worn by the next Marchioness of Bath nor by her successor, but it does seem that it was worn by their daughter, Lady Silvy Thynne, for her wedding to Iain McQuiston, the brother of the current Marchioness, in 1989.
The Tiara remained publicly unworn until 2013, when Emma McQuiston married the then Viscount Weymouth at Longleat amid disapproval from his family.
When she was Lady Weymouth, the Tiara was not confined to formal occasions but appeared for numerous parties held at Longleat House over the years, including for Lady Weymouth’s 30th Birthday in 2016.
After becoming the Marchioness of Bath in 2020, the Tiara was worn earlier this year when Edward Enninful, the editor-in-chief of British Vogue, celebrated his Wedding at Longleat. The Tiara, along with a Diamond Rivière, and the Marchioness’ Wedding Gown are currently on display at Longleat. There is no doubt we will continue to see this spectacular Family Heirloom for years to come!