Queer Places:
Holford House, Avenue Road & Outer Cir, St John's Wood, London NW1 4RT, UK

Verna Aldrich (born 1893) was the secretary and lover of Maud Allan, from the 1920s on. Maud Allan's reputation was compromised by her intimate friendship with Margot Asquith's wife, who was rumoured to be part of a lesbian clique. Margot Asquith paid for Maud Allan's apartment overlooking Regent Park, for twenty years, from 1910 onwards.

When Herbert Asquith died in 1928 and Margot stopped paying the lease on Holford House, Maud began an affair with her secretary, Verna Aldrich. This ten-year relationship, the longest Maud would ever have, manifested curious echoes from the Pemberton-Billing trial, where Maud was engaged in not only a lesbian liaison, but one with definite sadistic overtones. Verna Aldrich was twenty years Maud's junior, and their affair was punctuated by Maud's demanding and deceitful paranoia. When Verna received a proposal of marriage from a wealthy widower in 1930, Maud threw a tantrum and threatened to expose their coupling and then commit suicide. Verna ended the engagement and became ever more entrenched in Maud's selfishness, even using her own limited funds to pay the lease on Holford House. When that money was gone, Maud embarked on devious stratagems to filch money from Verna's rich relatives. Symbolic of her glory days, Maud refused to give up the spacious quarters on Regent's Park, and only when it was bombed by the Germans in 1940 did she leave. Maud finally went too far when she accused her lover of being a thief and threatened to sue her. Verna moved out of her life, leaving Maud to her ever-increasing misery.

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