Kings Bromley’s Association with Paxos

Kings Bromley Historian members Helen and Kevin Price are just back from the Ionian Island of Paxos where I asked them to take a photo of what had once been the British Resident’s house:

Cecil Lane, born 1833, was John Newton Lane’s third surviving son who was born and raised in Kings Bromley Hall. He joined the diplomatic service in the Ionian Islands which had been ceded to Britain at the end of the Napoleonic wars. In 1858 Cecil was made Resident on the tiny island of Paxos. Calls for the Ionian Islands to be ceded to the new Greek state were becoming stronger. To try and come up with a solution to the future of the Ionian islands, the future Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone was appointed Extraordinary Lord High Commissioner, and served in that post until February 1859. Gladstone's mission was to reform the colonial government and come up with a lasting settlement for British rule. His mission was a failure since the existing regime did not want to change and the native Ionians did not any more want British rule of any sort. Gladstone's inability to reconcile British and Ionian ways is exemplified by a farcical incident which is related by Lawrence Durrell in his book about Corfu, 'Prospero's Cell':

"Mr. Gladstone and the Bishop of Paxos, in an access of reciprocal politeness (in an attempt to kiss each other's hands) banged their skulls together during a very solemn ceremony and were only restored by a bottle of ginger beer." Cecil was Resident of Paxos at this time and it is recorded that ' [he] and other spectators of the scene had considerable difficulty in maintaining the gravity befitting so solemn occasion.'

I would like to imagine Cecil, Gladstone and the Bishop on this harbour front trying to regain their dignity. Cecil stayed in Cephalonia until 1864, when the British ceded the Ionian islands to Greece. He retired at 31 with a CMG and a pension (paid for by the Greek government), and lived for some years in his bachelor pad at the Manor before marrying at the age of 35. Then he moved to Whiston Hall where he acted as land agent at Patshull for Lord Derbyshire. For more information on the Lane family association with the Ionian islands see the publication ‘Agnes, The Little Queen of Kings Bromley’.