Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The celebrated adventuress who went from a childhood at Holkham to being the wife of a Bedouin Sheikh

Copyright Jane Digby
The fascinating life of the celebrated adventuress Jane Digby who spent her early years at Holkham, but who went on to fall in love with an Austrian prince and then spent the later part of her life married to a Bedouin Sheikh will be the subject of a  lecture at Holkham for a Norfolk charity on September 28.

The Norfolk Churches Trust is hosting the event at Holkham where Mary S Lovell, author of Jane Digby’s biography, A Scandalous Life, will  give a unique and fully illustrated two-part talk about this celebrated adventuress.

In the first part Mary will provide a potted history of Jane Digby's fascinating story, which is told in full in her biography .In the second part of the programme Mary will explain how she researched and uncovered Jane's story over a period of some years, using as a guide, Jane's own diaries to which she was given unprecedented access by the Digby family. This search led Mary from Minterne House in Dorset to Holkham and to various homes of Jane's young married life in the London area, when she was the feted young wife of a Cabinet Minister, Lord Ellenborough in the days of the Regency.

After a love affair with an Austrian prince ruined her reputation and caused a sensational divorce, Jane was forced to leave England and her path led her through the capitals of Europe such as Munich where she was the ‘cherami’ of King Ludwig of Bavaria, and became the wife of a Baron before eloping with a Corfiote count when her husband and lover duelled at the roadside to keep her. From there the trail led through Corfu, Athens and Italy. Eventually, in 1992 the research took Mary to Syria where Jane had gone 140 years earlier in search of the best Arabian horses. Here Jane's story ended after she fell in love and married a Bedouin Sheikh and lived, more or less happily ever after until her death in 1881, by then the respected matriarch of her tribe.

Jane had many adventures along the way and Mary has had a number of adventures of her own in researching Jane's story. She has offered to share them with the audience and will be happy to sign paperback copies of the book, which will be on sale after the event.

The lecture will take place in the Saloon at Holkham Hall and canap├ęs and wine will be served in the Statue Gallery.  Tickets for the evening cost £30 each and are available by contacting the Holkham Ticket Office Tel: 01328 713111 or for more information visit

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