Maxwell Fyfe's London

 

Maxwell Fyfe spent from 1933 to around 1950s in and around London. This was in part due to the fact that in 1935 he was elected Conservative MP for West Derby and held that position for 20 years. He spent most of his time therefore in the House of Commons and in the Borough of Westminster. It is interesting how little has changed in this area since he was there as the Houses of Parliament are identical to how they were and despite the Second World War, much of the surrounding area hasn't changed as much as you might think. While he lived in London, Maxwell Fyfe, as well as being an MP, he became a King's Counsel and a Bencher of Gray's Inn. He was injured in an air raid in 1940 but returned to the Conservative party in 1941 to hold the posts of Deputy Chairman and Chairman. Maxwell Fyfe doesn't describe his personal life in London or describe the surroundings in the same way as other places so I have found it more of a challenge to find out what he thought about it. But I have come to the conclusion that the reason he doesn't describe his life is that the war and other work were more important to him in this period of his life.  

North Court and other London addresses

 

In Political Adventure, Maxwell Fyfe doesn't really talk about the addresses where he lived in the same way as other places he lived. For Edinburgh for instance he writes the address of where he was born.

 

However where he lived while he was in London didn't matter as much as what happened politically and professionally during that time. However having talked to my granny, Lady Pamela Blackmore (nee Maxwell Fyfe) about the places they lived in London I was fascinated by how many different places they lived during the time between 1933 and 1945. Maxwell Fyfe and his family - my great granny, Sylvia, Lalage and Pamela, my granny - moved to London in 1933. He says in his autobiography 'We then, as a family, had to move to London. Sylvia found a charming house, 15, Cornwall Terrace, Regent’s Park. It was one of the smallest houses in the terrace...and we were ensconced by the late spring.'  They stayed there till the outbreak of the second world war in 1939. The two older children were evacuated with their school so Sylvia and Miranda, their third daughter, spent some time in Liverpool and in the place where her children were evacuated to, Isfield. In 1941, they moved to Wynstay Gardens as he recounts saying 'Sylvia used to drive me there in a car which was lent to us. Such was the high wartime standard of duty that she used to drive back the car to our flat in Wynnstay Gardens, and then proceed on foot to buy and carry home potatoes and other shopping.' In 1945, they all moved to North Court which the location we filmed for Under an English Heaven. My Granny can remember being here for V Day in 1945. The address at North Court is just around the corner from the Palace of Westminster which must have been very convenient for his work as an MP in the House of Commons. Although this is the only the location I have photographs of, it's very interesting to know where he lived while his work was centred around London.

The Houses of Parliament and Palace of Westminster

 

The Houses of Parliament played a very big part in Maxwell Fyfe's life. As he says himself that 'to get there was the dearest ambition of his life.' He was first elected as MP for West Derby in 1935 and went on to sit in the Commons for 20 years. Later on in his career, he was made Lord Chancellor and spent time in the House of Lords so saw the building and institution from two sides. He said 'From the outset, the House of Commons entranced me; I was proud to be even a humble back-bencher,

 

and was enchanted with my good fortune.' Most of the information he relates in The Political Adventure is about what happens politically in the Commons, not description of the building and surrounds.  

 

However we visited the Palace of Westminster on a tour in 2011 and discovered for ourselves what an extraordinary place it is. The buildings are imposing but undeniably recognisable especially the Queen Elizabeth tower that houses Big Ben. The buildings are run in a very particular way with many rules and regulations. But when you see it in action you feel proud to be British and Maxwell Fyfe felt the same when he said 'I cannot adequately express my pride and happiness when I first entered the Palace of Westminster as of right a Member of Parliament. To get there had been the dearest ambition of my life...and I was not disappointed.'

'To enter the House of Commons is not merely to enter a political institution, it is coming across a new world, complex, hazardous, inconstant, demanding and perpetually facinating. The pride and pleasure never faded the twenty years I sat in the Commons.'

from David Maxwell-Fyfe's autobiography, Political Adventure

'We then, as a family, had to move to London.'  

from David Maxwell-Fyfe's autobiography, Political Adventure

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Panorama Houses of Parliament

London

Houses of Parliament, Westminster

Parliament Green

Parliament Square

Pan st john smith square

St John's Smith Square

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