Queer Places:
29 Eaton Pl, Belgravia, London SW1X 8BP, UK

Alice Maria Hill, Countess of Bective (November 7, 1842 - February 25, 1928), was born Lady Alice Maria Hill in London, the daughter of Sir Arthur Wills Blundell Sandys Trumbull Windsor Hill, 4th Marquess of Downshire, and Hon. Caroline Frances Stapleton-Cotton. She was the only daughter. In 1860 father Arthur Wills demolished the old mansion house of Easthampstead Park in Berkshire and built the present house, which was finished in 1864, a couple of years later he also provided for the St Micheal’s Parish church, Easthampstead to be rebuilt.

In 1867 on the 9th October Lady Alice Maria Hill married Thomas Taylour, Lord Kenlis, son of the Earl of Bective. The couple went on to have two daughters, the first was Lady Olivia Caroline Amelia Taylour (born 1869). Their second daughter Lady Evelyn Alice Estelle Taylour (born 1873), sadly died at age 2. Lady Evelyn was buried in Kirkby Lonsdale. In 1892 Lady Olivia married Lord Henry Cavendish Bentinck (1863-1931). They had no children.

In 1893 Thomas Taylour, now Earl of Bective, died from a serious attack of influenza.

Almost as soon as Victor Beigel and John Borie arrived in London, they resumed their close friendship with Jane Emmet and Wilfrid de Glehn, whose home in Chelsea already had become a center for the art colony of painters, composers, and musicians. Though modestly gifted at the easel, Jane von Glehn excelled as a hostess, and she organized numerous recitals in their drawing room when John Singer Sargeant was present and their close friends Roger Quilter, Leonard Borwick, Gervase Elwes, Percy Grainger, and the singer Susan Metcalfe all performed. Though overlooked by most published accounts, Victor Beigel, Dickie Borie, and Emily Sargent were present, too, on such occasions, when the lines distinguishing strictly professional from more intimate personal relations readily were blurred. A gossipy letter from Jane Emmet back to America helps to clarify the social dynamic of this close-knit group. "I was carried off to dinner by Lady Bective," she wrote in June, 1907, "it was great fun. Beigel & Dickie and a young Indian Rajah who is studying law and art (very handsome) and the writer Robert Hichens. Beigel played divinely after dinner & Dickie was too funny. He has the most perfectly divine combination with Lady Bective who is an old Countess and a great sport. She sits and stares at Dickie's impertinences and says really he must treat her with some respect. She's been used to it." Despite, or possibly because of it, John Borie's irresistible sallies, Alice Maria Bentinck, the Countess of Bective, hired the architect to redecorate her elaborate London residence at 29 Eaton Place (one of the few later commissions on record for him). This must have been a very queer evening, indeed: Hichens notoriously had satirized - and exposed - Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas in his 1894 novel The Green Carnation (published anonymously), and many of his later works suggestively would explore the homoerotic subtext of Britain's orientalist fixations in the far reaches of the Empire. Not surprising, then, to find a "very handsome" Indian Rajah among the company.

The Countess of Bective passed away on February 25, 1928, aged 85 at her home, 29 Eaton Place, London.


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