Lilly Langtree & Cambridge
Last night (8/07/2010) I stayed in a hotel in London called ‘The Grand Royal’, situated at no’s 1-9 Inverness Terrace, London – just to the north side of Hyde Park. To my surprise, after settling in, I noted that the hotel bar was named the ‘Lilly Langtree Bar’ as I waited at the reception to ask why the bar had been named so I also noticed that there was a glass display cabinet in the lobby containing several old frames photographs of Lilly Langtree. When I asked the lady at reception what the link with the hotel and Lilly Langtree had been, she was unsure but duly printed off a history of the hotel for me. According to the brief history which I was given, the hotel had been built/renovated at the turn of the last century, commissioned reputedly by Edward VII as a private residence for his mistress Lilly Langtree. The architect was Charles Mews who had just completed the London Ritz. What was unusual about the renovation was the addition of a private theatre – which is now the ‘Lilly Langtree Bar’ – Lilly Langtree was a famous socialite and actress and the hotel I stayed in last night was created, supposedly, as both a love nest and a career bolster for Lilly.
I took some photos of the pictures of Lilly Langtree displayed in the hotel lobby and some of the theatre bar which you can see below.
The theatre bar originally consisted of two rooms, the front circular and domed (the auditorium), the second (the stage) rectangular with a proscenium arch between them. It is a very intimate space with mirrored walls and Venetian glass chandeliers with soft plush velvet seating. The wonderful, original Edwardian theatre seats are still there and in very good condition.
My interest in this and surprise came from the fact that I had ended up in a place once frequented by my great grannies friend! My great granny was Ada Broom (previously Cruden, nee Hatchman) and when she lived on Russell Street in Cambridge she would let out rooms. Lilly Langtree had stayed at my great grannies house in Cambridge several times when she had been playing at the ‘New Theatre’ in Cambridge, which was just down the end of Russell Street on Hills Road (no longer there). My granny (Ada’s daughter) remembers Lilly Langtree staying at the house well. One of the tales she tells is how Lilly had a little dog she would carry under her arm (not too dissimilar from the Paris Hilton’s of today), granny told me how one day Lilly came rushing into the house calling “Mrs Broom, Mrs Broom!” and how grannies mum had come running to see what was the matter. Lilly had said “Oh Mrs Broom, it’s my poor little dog! He has hurt his foot!” Great granny had said “Alright dear, give him to me; let me have a look…now tell me what happened.” Lilly replied by explaining how she had been in town (Cambridge) and had gone to Boots (still there today!) and at the entrance to Boots there was a revolving door and as she had gone through the door her little dog had got his paw caught. She had rushed straight back to great grannies house on Russell Street. Great granny bandaged the little dogs paw and saw him alright.
Granny told me how Lilly left a box of chocolates on the sideboard for her dog to have as a treat and had told great granny to give them to her dog every now and again when she was out. Granny said how her mum had said “Now dear, you are not to touch those chocolates coz they’re for the dog” and granny had replied “but they’re real chocolates for people” and granny still says today “they were you know!”
So what a nice surprise it was last night to spend a night in a hotel where Lilly had once slept too!
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