“Piloting Turbinia during the Royal Naval Review at Spithead was almost too exciting. She was 10 knots fasters than any other craft.” Christopher Leyland

London Links

Rachel Parsons in a Buick, photographed in 1923 outside 5 Grosvenor Square
Rachel Parsons in a Buick, photographed in 1923 outside 5 Grosvenor Square.

Many famous locations in London have connections with the Parsons family. William and Mary Parsons, the earl and countess of Rosse, owned (successively) two houses in Connaught Place, Bayswater, where they spent the winter months. Their youngest son, Charles, and his family had a London home at 1 Upper Brook Street, Mayfair.

In the early 1920s Rachel Parsons was living at 5 Portman Square, but when she stood for Parliament in 1923 she gave her election address as 80 Cadogan Square, the home of the Duchess of Westminster. From 1926 to 1934 Rachel owned 5 Grosvenor Square, and she later bought and sold two houses in Belgrave Square. From 1946 to 1955 she lived at 3 Belgrave Square, and in 1953 she bought 15 Hyde Park Gardens in Bayswater.

In 1927 Charles Parsons became the first engineer to join the highly exclusive Order of Merit – an honour, limited to 24 living recipients, that is in the personal gift of the monarch. In 1950 a Charles Parsons memorial window was unveiled in the north aisle of the nave in Westminster Abbey.

The Linley Sambourne House at 18 Stafford Terrace, Kensington, was restored in the 1950s by Anne Parsons, countess of Rosse, the wife of the sixth earl of Rosse. Once the home of Punch illustrator Edward Linley Sambourne, the house is now a museum. The Victorian Society was founded there in 1957.