Grocer’s accounts which reveal secrets of estate to go under the hammer

The Countess of Warwick on horseback at Easton Lodge. Picture: SWORDERS

The Countess of Warwick on horseback at Easton Lodge. Picture: SWORDERS - Credit: Archant

The hidden secrets of history lie in books of accounts. How people spent their money tells the tale.

It’s not only objects of great value that have stories to tell. Neatly writen in copperplate handwriting, entries in an account book describe grocery orders from 1918 to 1925 of some intriguing people, the great and the good.

Among the customers of Essex grocer, Luckin and Co (sounding like the characters in were the Countess of Warwick the author, H G Wells, Lady Fane, Lady Gordon Lennox and Colonel Philpot (Sounding like the characters from Cluedo).

The Earl and Countess of Warwick, living at the large country house, Easton Lodge were evidently Luckin and Co’s best customer. The Countess Daisy Greville, shown above, (on whom the song Daisy, Daisy was allegedly based) famously entertained on a lavish scale as she juggled a series of affairs with powerful men of the day including The Prince of Wales.

Easton Lodge had several different accounts including the Lady Warwick Pantry Account, Easton Lodge Kitchen, Easton Lodge Cat Fish and the Lady Warwick Fruit Account. The countess famously kept a menagerie of more than 500 birds and animals at the house, possibly the explanation for a fruit order that in November 1919 included 34 dozen bananas.


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By this time, although the extensive ordering of provisions continued, the estate was in virtual bankruptcy. The Grevilles’ daughter-in-law visiting in January 1919 observed Daisy “economising ruthlessly and giving notice to all the internal staff”, while the Countess’s husband, the 5th Earl, one-time conservative MP and Lord Lieutenant of Essex, was asked to take his turn helping in the kitchen, supervising the cooking of a joint of beef.

Daisy (1861-1938) was a woman of contrasts, known for her good looks, her marriage and a nine-year affair with the heir to the throne she was a social reformer and stood for Parliament as a Labour Party candidate but stood on platforms in furs and pearls. The account book will be in a Country House Sale, at Sworders Auctioneers in Stansted on Tuesday December 5, expected to go for between £200 and £300.

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