Black Diamonds The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty PDF


10 thoughts on “Black Diamonds The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty

  1. says:

    Absolutely OutstandingI found the entire book to be an extraordinary read Based upon historical fact several chapters pertain to the unbelievable staggering wealth of the English aristocrats during the 1900’s along with a heartbreaking depiction of the wretchedness and extreme hardships of the coal miners and their families The Fitzwilliams’ who owned the Wentworth stately home are a fascinating family who also suffered from disappointments and tragedies throughout most of their lives It was such a compelling read and one of the finest books I have ever read Highly recommended and definitely a five star plus


  2. says:

    I have intended to read this for a long time but I was always going to have a mixed relationship with this book because I grew up in Wentworth and am very familiar with the historyThe male Wentworth line ran dry and the title passed matrilineally to the FitzWilliams Ludicrously rich the money came from coal The 'Estate' employed and housed the people who worked the coal; most boys went 'down't' pit' I recall slag heaps and mine shafts scarring the countryside and an almost feudal mentality The class system was alive and thrivingIn my lifetime it all came apart though I am sure it began before my arrival As a child the Stable Block belonging to the Big House was a teacher's training college The family still lived in part of the Big House and the deer park still had a ranger guarding against poaching I developed a life long concern with true justice which does not and cannot always euate with the law of the land in the shadow of this echo of privilege and the notion that an accident of birth could have one person seen as being of value than another was abhorrent to me I myself was cast as 'posh' in the area because I came from a middle class background and spoke 'nicely' Being neither fish nor fowl among the local people was isolating my brothers coped by acuiring local accents and some machismo; I got a dog and he was my favoured companionIt's worth a read but it made me sad this ;ittle trip down memory lane


  3. says:

    Find the enhanced version of this and other reviews at Bailey's Black Diamonds presents uite a challenge for me as a reviewer In terms of content this piece is a treasure trove of information but the formatting and haphazard construction make it an incredibly difficult piece to digestFor the record Bailey does not cover the rise of the Fitzwilliams She takes great liberties assuming the reader is already familiar with the family and entirely omits the early chapters of their history without so much as a footnote of explanation The title was created in 1716 but Bailey's chronicle doesn't begin until 1902 with the death of the 6th Earl Fitzwilliam leaving much of the family not to mention the origins of their wealth and influence shrouded in mystery This omission however is only the beginning The biographical preface is followed immediately by an emotionless tour book style introduction illustrating the present day appearance of the house and surrounding grounds Chapters 1 through 3 see a return to the biographic tone with a focus on William Billy Wentworth Fitzwilliam 7th Earl Fitzwilliam and the legal difficulties he struggled with coming into his inheritance and though chapter 4 retains the same voice it makes an abrupt departure and jumps back to 1839 for the birth William Wentworth Fitzwilliam Viscount Milton to examine the life of Billy's father Much to my annoyance this erratic timetable is continued throughout the book To make matters worse Bailey seems to have had than a little trouble determining the exact scope of her work The description led me to believe this was a family history but within the text the personal lives and accomplishments of the Fitzwilliams freuently fell to the way side as Bailey examined the coal mining industry class conflict and the political upheaval that characterized England in the early and mid 1900s Though I found the information intensely interesting I often found myself wondering how the work of a pit pony and his adolescent driver or the breakdown of a coal miner's household budget impacted the inhabitants of WentworthI probably don't need to illustrate my point any further but the most glaring departure of the book takes place between pages 332 and 379 a span in which Bailey devotes nearly fifty pages to Kathleen Kennedy sister of future president John F Kennedy I understand her appearance here considering her tragic death alongside Peter Wentworth Fitzwilliam 8th Earl Fitzwilliam but these pages aren't about their affair The two don't even meet until page 380 No this section details her life as a debutante as daughter of the American Ambassador her career with the Red Cross and the personal trials she suffered during her relationship with William Cavendish Maruess of Hartington It is fun information but entirely superfluous in the history of the FitzwilliamsDo I think the book is a waste? Not at all Bailey presents a wealth of wonderful material in these pages much of which I'd never before encountered In terms of content I loved this piece but that being said I would have liked to see coherency in the final product


  4. says:

    The GR book description says Black Diamonds tells of the Fitzwilliams' spectacular decline of inheritance fights; rumours of a changeling and of lunacy; philandering earls; illicit love; war heroism; a tragic connection to the Kennedys; violent death; mining poverty and sualor; and a class war that literally ripped apart the local landscape The demise of Wentworth and the Fitzwilliams is a riveting account of aristocratic decline and fall set in the grandest house in EnglandThe Wentworth Estate is located between Rotherham and Barnsley in South Yorkshire England northeast of Sheffield In 1902 when the historical narrative commences it was the largest privately owned house in all of England The fall of the Fitzwilliams’ dynasty spanned a mere fifty years We start with the sixth earl and conclude with the tenth That which we are promised in the book description is delivered The nationalization and demise of the British coal industry is a central theme too The book moves forward chronologically beginning with the funeral of the sixth earl in February 1902 What makes the book particularly good is that as the years pass the focus varies even if the common denominator is the family’s wealth from the mining of coal A book just on the nationalization of the British coal industry could easily be boring and dry Here there are exciting events personal tales and intriguing uestions about the family to be investigated Here follows one example The father of the seventh earl Lord Milton died before the death of the sixth So the grandson not the son of the sixth became the seventh earl Am I confusing you? Don’t worry it is very clear in the book Circumstances under which the seventh was born are extremely peculiar He was born in Canada in 1872 in an Indian settlement on Lake Superior His father had epilepsy which made him an unacceptable heir; there was need for a male heir without the taint of epilepsy The you learn the your interest is piued Has the baby who was to become the seventh earl been exchanged for a healthy male child? Something fishy was certainly going on We are given the known facts; they certainly make for an intriguing mystery Each reader must decide for them self The story is engagingly told My point is that as the years pass we encounter not one but several such captivating episodes History comes in between so you have a solid base on which to stand but the book does not put you to sleepHow often is the story told of women placed in insane asylums for unjustified reasons in truth for the convenience of relatives? This happened to men too I also very much enjoyed hearing the miners’ tales We hear personal stories the terrifying first day down in the black depths of the pits initiation rites that will have you cringe shoveling muck and driving the mine ponies Jim was thirteen when he started The very first day the so “kind and helpful deputy” I am being sarcastic showed Jim where his brother John Willy came to his death under the collapsed rubble of an explosion Then coming up to the surface after his first day the pride he felt and his first step into manhood are wonderfully depicted The contrast between his fear and his sense of achievement speaks volumes This Jim became an author See Bowers Row Recollections Of A Mining Village by Jim Bullock The tales of the miners give a good balance to the life of the wealthy set The book goes off on a tangent with too many unrelated details about Kick Kennedy She and Peter Fitzwilliam the eighth earl were considering marriage before view spoilertheir tragic death in a plane crash on May 13 1948 hide spoiler


  5. says:

    Big house old family big scandals big falls all dead now house empty


  6. says:

    This book is primarily about an English Dynasty built on coal but it is about a period than about any one household The family at the core of this book is one that is hard to get a good picture of because they have systematically burnt all their personal archives Ms Bailey adds social and political events that were occurring during the period of the book late 1800s to mid 1900s to help flesh out the story of this dynastyI enjoyed the stories truth can indeed be stranger than fiction about the family itself but I struggled with the long stretches about the politics of socialism unionism and the class system in Great Britain Speeches and letters from Prime Ministers Kings union leaders Lords and parliamentarians filled the middle section of the book Valid background I suppose but a bit than I felt I needed to get the pictureThe side stories about interesting characters and lives including a very long segment on a member of the Kennedy family that might have in some way connected to the core family weren't uninteresting I just often wondered why I was reading about them Which is my main complaint about this book the thread of the story often was hard for me to follow and tangents were taken that didn't seem to add much to the overall picture being painted of an Earl his holdings and his family


  7. says:

    A fascinating book for fans of Downton Abbey it's also a mystery how can one of the wealthiest families in the UK die out over the course of 50 years? It is a social history of the time as well as a history of a place and the specific characters who inhabit it While not evenly divided between storylines focusing on the Dukes and the locals it does have the fresh voices of former employees adding color to the narrative And it is an engrossing storyThe staggeringly rich are different from you and me they are just as prone to making egregious errors in every aspect of their lives but they are rather protected from the conseuences So good I had reuested Baily's other book The Secret Rooms A True Gothic Mystery before I ever finished this oneLibrary copy


  8. says:

    A social history of coal mining told through the eyes of one family the owners of Wentworth reputedly the biggest country seat in Britain I absolutely loved this It had all my favourite ingredients for a good history social context; gossip and scandal; dynastic shenanigans; and what's it managed a very rare thing it swayed me at one point from my own natural socialistic inclinations onto the side of the aristocracy I picked this up on one of my trips to Waterstones when I like to browse those themed tables they have I'd never heard of the book or the subject of it the Fitzwilliams I'd never come across the author before but I just got a good vibe about it and I was right The history of coal mining the exploitation of the miners the appalling conditions terrible wages the contrasting philosophies of the various owners the long battle for nationalisation and the subseuent destruction of the industry are shown in parallel to the fate of the landed gentry specifically the Fitzwilliams who stood on the other side of the fence In many ways the Fitzwilliams were a good example of landowners they looked after their miners and their many other dependents they put safety first and they were generous in times of adversity Of course they were also sickeningly rich arrogant and elitist oh yes and the men were classic rakes But what Ms Bailey does in her book is show both sides of fence warts and all baddies and goodies and she doesn't fall into the sycophantic trap or the trap of making the rich guys the baddies and the poor guys the goodies But she does judge and I do like her for that But lest you think this is a big book about coal think again The Fitzwilliams had many skeletons in their closets and lots of juicy scandal too and as much of it as Ms Bailey has been able to uncover is here You get the distinct impression that she has a good dollop that she couldn't publish because it was only gossip without proof which is uite frustrating but believe me there's plenty to keep you turning the pages I looked Wentworth up when I had finished this and discovered to my surprise and pleasure that it is now open to the public once that the gardens which were so wilfully destroyed are now being restored This book made me want to go there I loved this book Highly recommended


  9. says:

    Fans of Downton Abbey are led to believe that the Crawley family wealth comes from the earnings of the bucolic farms that surround Downton Abbey However if Julian Fellowes were honest he'd let viewers know that in all probability their large income was derived from coal just as it was for the Carnavon family in whose Highclere Castle the show is set This book is the story of an even wealthier aristocratic family the Fitzwilliams who at the beginning of the twentieth century were the wealthiest family in England and whose wealth was derived from the labor of men and boys some as young as eleven who toiled underground for twelve to fifteen hours a day Their county estate in south Yorkshire was called Wentworth and it was England’s largest private home with 1000 windows and its park wall running for nine miles When the sixth Earl Fitzwilliam died in 1902 he left four sons and his dynasty and fortune seemed secure But the class war of the twentieth century combined with the family's own follies brought it all crashing down around themThe book gives a vivid picture of the yawning gap between the wealthy aristocracy and the workers who supported their lifestyle Although the FItzwilliams were beneficent mine owners unlike some of the purely corporate mining interests the gap between the family and the miners was vast and beginning in the 1920's with the rise of the Labour party no amount of kindly charity from the big house was going to satisfy the workers' demands for a better life Although the family survived the General Strike in 1926 the Depression and then World War II spelled the end of their financial empireThe eighth Earl Peter was the last person of conseuence to hold the title He was a dashing war hero who today is largely remembered for being Kathleen Kennedy;s married lover who died with her in a plane crash in 1948 The book spends altogether too much time discussing Ms Kennedy's history and her relationship with Peter about 100 pages that lends little to the understanding of the story of the family and its wealth I can only guess it was included to appeal to the seemingly endless fascination with everything Kennedy on both sides of the AtlanticAfter his death the title went to Peters alcoholic uncle and then to a distant cousin who died without producing any sons thus the title is today extinct After a long decline into semi ruin Wentworth House is now owned by someone unrelated to the family and is open for tours costing from 15 to 38 per head and for rental as a wedding venueThe book does an excellent job of detailing both the lavish lifestyle of the aristocracy as well as the grinding poverty of the mineworkers and the glee with which Labour party officials confiscated the mines even to the point of strip mining on the grounds of Wentworth It would be nice to say that as a result the workers in the area are living better life today thanks to the mas closing of collieries in the 1980's by Margaret Thatcher the area has one of the highest rates of unemployment in Britain today


  10. says:

    Can't recommend this book highly enough it makes absolutely fascinating reading telling the true story of the tumultuous ups and downs of the Wentworth stately home and the vicissitudes of the aristocratic families lucky enough to live there At the same time we are made aware of the grinding poverty of the miners the appalling conditions that was the lot of the working man and the reality of life before during and after both world wars It documents the fall of the aristocracy and the introduction of social reform and the welfare state and is an immensely thought provoking read Catherine Bailey is a talented author that has the ability to bring history alive I've been gripped by this book it's poignancy and atmosphere have remained with me and I can't stop thinking about it


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Black Diamonds The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty House of privilege riches and secretsWentworth is today a crumbling and forgotten palace in Yorkshire Yet just a hundred years ago is was the ancestral pile of the Fitzwilliams an aristocratic clan whose home and life were fuelled by coal mining Black Diamonds tells of the Fitzwilliams' spectacular decline of inheritance fights; rumours of a changeling and of lunacy; philandering earls; illicit love; war heroism; a tragic connection to the Kennedys; violent death; mining poverty and sualor; and a class war that literally ripped apart the local landscape The demise of Wentworth and the Fitzwilliams is a riveting account of aristocratic decline and fall set in the grandest house in England

  • Paperback
  • 519 pages
  • Black Diamonds The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty
  • Catherine Bailey
  • English
  • 09 December 2014
  • 9780141019239

About the Author: Catherine Bailey

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