Sifting through the documents and
objects that were preserved at Ombersley Court, so as to give a glimpse into
the life of Michael, 5th Baron Sandys, a problem presented itself: the
paucity of letters from Mikey’s period – a bomb fell on his London home
during the Blitz. It was at once a handicap and a challenge. Thankfully,
compensation lay in the shape of family photograph albums and a scrapbook. As a
result, fragments no. 7 (now just published) contains 79 illustrations, most made public for the first time.
Although Mikey was no great achiever, he does have attractions as a subject. His life brings the reader into the world of Gaiety Girls, bare-knuckle boxing and four-in-hand coach driving: all rather different territory from that revealed in previous volumes.
Omitted from this latest book is the fine image of the East front of Ombersley Court that heads this post. It is stamped on the back Robinson & Son, photographers, 20 Gladstone Terrace, North Road, Wolverhampton: the exact date is uncertain, but on top of the steps can just be seen a birdcage similar to those in the photograph on page 29: one of the probable inhabitants is the subject of a charming story told by a former second housemaid on the previous page.
Although the end result of extracting the Mikey information from the Sandys Ombersley archive is not a uniquely slim volume, there must surely be additional material out there that bears on the life of the 5th Baron Sandys: it would be interesting to hear of sources – mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
There now remain only two lives to be written up in order to complete the fragments of nine lives set, but these could be the trickiest, looking at the quantity of documents.