7/22/2008

Photo of the week - Agnes Ward, viscountess of Bangor

Date: 1911
Photographer: Lafayette
Sitter: Agnes, countess of Bangor
Provenience: London, England

The countess of Bangor was born as Agnes Elizabeth Hamilton, daughter of Dacre Archdale Hamilton and Helen Nugent, in 1878 in Cornacassa, County Monaghan, Ireland. On 5th January 1905 she married Lt.-Cl. Maxwell Richard Crosbie Ward. In November the same year their first child, a son named Edward Henry Harold, was born. He was later followed by three girls, Mary Helen Kathleen (1909), Helen Elizabeth (1912) and Margaret Bertha (1914).

On 23 February Agnes father-in-law, the 5th vicomt of Bangor, died and he was succeeded by his son. At the same time Agnes became viscountess. The photo here shows her in the the formal attire of the viscoutess, how she was supposed to be dressed when visiting the court. Considering the date of the photo, 1911, it seems likely that this photo has some connection with her being presented at court as the new viscountess of Bangor.

The dress she wears is of highest fashion, as would be appropriate of someone of the highest ranks of society. But over that she is wearing a velvet coat with white fur trimming that was the formal wear of a high ranking noble person at the time. The same is true of the crown she is wearing - crowns were not only worn by royalty, but how they could look was strictly formalized. There was marked differences of the crowns worn by different ranks of nobles and withing the ranks they looked the same. This kind of clothing was meant to be worn at court and really not at other occasions.

Agnes became a widow in 1950, and was succeded by her daughter-in-law Leila Mary Heaton, her son's third wife, as viscountess. Her son divorced his wife in 1951 but was remarried the same year - with wife number four. Agnes died on 12th of May, 1972.

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