Edited by Sophia Lambert in 2012




1. Introduction

2. George Lambert M.P. Letters 1892-1954

3. Grace and Margaret Lambert as young women 1922-39

4. Michael Lambert at school and university 1925-32


5. Florence Macaskie as a child: 1925-1931


6. The engagement of Florence and Michael: 1937-1939


7. Michael Lambert in America: 1938-1939


8. The Second World War: 1939-1945


9. Nick and Jane Macaskie in Berlin: 1946-49


10. Florence and Michael and family in London, Devon and abroad: 1947-1973


11. Sophia Lambert in Paris: 1960-1963


12. Caelia Lambert abroad: 1962-1976


13. Flavia Lambert in Italy: 1960-1968


14. Florence and Michael at Barontoli: 1973-1988


15. Annex: family trees






   In 1939, two days after the outbreak of the Second World War, Michael Lambert married Florence Macaskie. This union brought together two families who belonged to the prosperous middle classes, but who were very unlike in most other ways and indeed disapproved of each other.


   Michael Lambert was the son of George Lambert (later 1st Viscount Lambert), the M.P. for a large rural constituency in Devon. George came from a long line of prosperous Devon yeoman farmers whose horizons had not extended beyond their own small area of Devon until George, at the age of 25, was elected the Liberal M.P. for the South Molton constituency in 1899. After his election, George went up to London, became a politician on the national stage and came to know a large number of influential people. This changed his life and that of his family. He had left his local grammar school at the age of fifteen and been sent by his father to complete his education with a horse-coper, in order to learn how to be ‘sharp’. He sent his own sons to Harrow and Oxford and his daughters were presented at Court. However, while George took an intelligent interest in everything that came within his ken, he and his wife Barbara were never particularly interested in things of the mind or in the arts, and the milieu in which the family lived was very much that of politics and agriculture. They acquired a house in London, and their life was divided between London and Parliament on the one hand, and Devon and the family farm on the other.


   Florence Macaskie came from the Scottish and Irish professional classes – her father and paternal grandfather were both barristers and her mother was the daughter of a successful Irish journalist. Florence’s parents were firmly established in London; entertained regularly; and had a wide range of friends and acquaintances among the intellectual and artistic circles of London. They spoke other European languages and were at home on the Continent. They were also devout Roman Catholics, whereas the Lamberts were not religious and, insofar as they had any involvement with organised religion, it was with the Church of England and the non-conformist Methodists of Devon.


   Both Barbara Lambert and her daughter Grace were hoarders of letters (although unfortunately Barbara destroyed most of her husband’s letters); and Florence and her mother also kept almost all the letters that were sent to them. This is a very small selection of these letters and of a few others that have survived from other sources. I have tried to pick out those that are interesting because of the light they shed on the characters of the peoples involved or on the social conditions and mores and of a past age; or which give a passing view of historical events.


   I have omitted from the letters boring passages about e.g. travel arrangements and the weather; gossip about unknown people; and passages that are unduly hurtful or embarrassingly private.  Small errors and punctuation have been corrected, although I have left untouched some of the spelling in the childhood letters. The letters are mainly arranged chronologically. However, I have also grouped letters according to the writer where this makes a suite of letters easier to follow. I have inserted short explanatory notes in the text [in square brackets], e.g. to identify people or things mentioned in the letters, and have also added slightly more detailed footnotes about some of the people mentioned. There is more information on family members in the annex.