The unlikely lady of Longleat
Lady Emma the “unlikely Lady of Longleat” is the daughter of Ladi Jadesinmi (Ladol)
Today Ceawlin Henry Laszlo Thynn, Viscount Weymouth, 39, who will become the 8th Marquess of Bath on the death of his father Alexander, is to wed Emma McQuiston, a food blogger and aspiring TV chef.
She will then become Britain’s first black viscountess and will be bumped up to the even loftier title of marchioness when her husbandto-be inherits his father’s seat.
“There has been some snobbishness, particularly among the much older generation,” she said in an interview with society glossy Tatler. “There’s class and then there’s the racial thing. It is a jungle and I am going through it and discovering things as I grow up. I’m not supereasily offended but it is a problem when someone’s making you feel different or separate because of your race, or forming an opinion before they know you.” That said, Emma is no stranger to life at Longleat, a 130-room, 16th-century Elizabethan mansion with lions, tigers and wolves in its safari park.
The couple are said to have first met when Emma was just four and a bridesmaid at the wedding of her half-brother Iain to Lady Silvy Cerne Thynne, a half-aunt of Ceawlin, and they saw each other regularly at Christmas and Easter family gatherings.
As a result Emma, 27, has had the benefit of being introduced gradually to the highly unorthodox set-up presided over by the current Marquess. While remaining married to Hungarian-born actress-turnedjournalist Anna Gael, Lord Bath, 81, has over the years enjoyed the company of more than 70 “wifelets”, a number of whom occupy cottages on the estate to this day.
It was not until 2011 that Ceawlin and Emma’s relationship developed further after they met at London club Soho House. By now Emma had blossomed into a beautiful young woman with a degree in history of art from University College London and ambitions to make it as a TV chef. Ceawlin had put behind him some early setbacks to pursue a successful career in international finance before taking over the management of Longleat in 2010.
He proposed to her in November after an evening out at Annabel’s, nightspot of choice for the smart set. Emma remembers it well: “We’d been to a party and in the middle of the night he woke me up to ask me and I made him do it again and again until it sunk in.”
Their nuptials will be held at Ceawlin’s family seat, with Emma’s father Ladi Jadesimi lined up to walk her down the aisle in full traditional tribal regalia. This wouldn’t be a wedding involving Britain’s most eccentric aristocratic family without controversy, however.
While Emma’s mother and father will be taking a central role in the proceedings all the signs are that Ceawlin’s father will be nowhere to be seen. The Marquess and his son may occupy different wings of the same house but they are not on speaking terms following the older man’s discovery that Ceawlin had removed murals he had painted from the former nursery suite.
It is hard to overestimate the importance the Marquess places on his brushwork. He considers his murals, which line the walls of 12 rooms, two corridors, two large hallways and two staircases, to be his legacy to history and the thought that they are destined to remain unseen has hurt him deeply.
His greatest fear is that his masterwork, the saucy frescoes of cavorting couples in the so-called Kama Sutra room, will go the same way. “Ceawlin didn’t talk it through with me first,” an indignant Lord Bath said earlier this year. “I only found out once the removal had started. It’s my life’s work and he’s quietly binned it. As a result it’s killed my relationship with him and I don’t feel inclined to pay any interest in his wedding.”
Not that the two had enjoyed entirely harmonious relations. One of the Marquess’ quirks was that, while he was educated at Eton and Oxford with an interlude in the very pukka Life Guards regiment, he insisted his son would be better off attending the village school and then a nearby comprehensive.
Ceawlin even earned pocket money as a teenager by cleaning the loos in Oscar’s, the nightclub on the estate. He later said: “The word from dad was, ‘Don’t show him any favours, toughen him up.'”