Thursday, 15 September 2011

A Very British VIP

A couple of VIPs for your viewing pleasure.

First off, His Royal Highness King Edward VIII...

Secondly, the interim governor of Herefordshire and modern-day Marcher lord, William de Braose...

Adn finally a little background on this chap...

Ever since the expulsion of the Anglican League from most of Herefordshire by forces royal to Edward VIII, the authorities struggled to maintain order, especially along the vulnerable Welsh border region. Welsh nationalists raided repeatedly into the county and even maintained a garrison in the town of Kington, whilst rendering assistance to the Anglican League enclave in Ross-on-Wye.

Apart from maintaining order in Hereford city itself, the civil authorities failed to make its mark elsewhere in the county, depending on the fascist Three Counties and King Offa Legions to police the countryside. In absence of any central control, prominent local landowners began building their own private armies, unwittingly (or otherwise) presenting themselves as alternative seats of power, reminiscent of the days of the medieval Marcher Lords, despite professing loyalty to the King.

Step forward one William de Braose.

William Brewes, or 'Bill' as he was more widely know, was born in 1885 in Bramber, Sussex, into a family which claimed roots back to the ancient de Braose dynasty - a prominent family of Anglo-Norman nobles originating in Briouze, near Argentan, Orne. Members of this family played a significant part in the Norman Conquest of England and subsequent power struggles in England, Wales and Ireland in the 11th to 14th centuries and once held considerable lands, not only in Sussex, but also along the Marches region.

Little is known about Brewes’ early life, except that he developed an interest in horse racing. At some stage he must have got into a bad crowd, as his name cropped up in a number of race-fixing allegations. Certainly he became a very rich man through race winnings and, after some alleged dodgy dealings, came close to being arrested at the outbreak of the Great War.

A keen horseman, he joined the Indian Army. Records are suspiciously patchy, but he entered the war as Trooper Bill Brewes, and came out as Lieutenant William de Braose. As an officer Skinner's Horse he shared a mutual interest in horses with 'Fruity' Metcalf (future equerry to Edward VIII), with whom he became close friends.

After, in his own words, a ‘distinguished’ military career, Brewes’ fortunes increased (mainly thanks to a silent partnership in a firm contracted to supply fodder to horses during the war). Gravitating into the social circle of the Prince of Wales, William de Braose appeared on the membership roster for the January Club and thence the British Union. Soon he could be seen swaggering through his estates in BUF uniform, his hair and moustache waxed into what was to become known as the fashionable 'Cirencester look'.

His fascist credentials established, de Braose held a number of minor official posts within the BUF and began to petition for a high-ranking position as soon as civil war erupted in 1938. Rumoured to have lent a substantial amount of money to the King, William was awarded the title of 3rd Baron Braose - a nod to his ancestors - and was given the official role of Interim Governor of the Marches - the word 'interim' no doubt a caution to this ambitious man that failure would not be tolerated.

And so William 'Bill' de Braose took up his position as governor of Herefordshire (practically the only portion of the Marches under nominal Edwardian control). If he succeeded in cementing Edward's rule, his position would be assured, for the king had already pointed out that de Braose's ancestors also included the de Bohun family - former Lord Wardens of the Marches and Earls of Hereford. If he failed then... well, it did not do to disappoint the king...


  1. Lovely work on the King, love the tie.

  2. Top quality on both, excellent work Sir.

  3. Bonjour,
    Possible d'avoir des informations sur mes ancêtres Famille De BRAOSe, merci à tous
    Cordialement et amicalement
    Camille De BRAOSe (Toulouse en France)

    1. Salut,
      Je suis désolé pour utiliser Google translate!
      La personne mentionnée dans mon blog est un personnage de fiction, basé sur un personnage historique.
      La famille deBraose étaient des «Barons» - Marcher qui gouverne partie de la zone ou de la Grande-Bretagne connu sous le nom "Les Marches" (la frontière entre l'Angleterre et du Pays de Galles) à partir de la conquête normande au Moyen Âge.
      J'espère que cela aide!


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