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Early 20th Century
Early in the 20th century, guests at Easton Lodge included George Bernard Shaw, Gustav Holst, Ramsay McDonald and HG Wells (pictured above), whose family lived in one of the estate properties. He, in turn, received visits from such notables as Dame Ellen Terry, AA Milne and Charlie Chaplin.
In 1918, another fire severely damaged the Jacobean wings of the house. The fire is thought to have been started by one of the Countess’ pet monkeys. Major portions of the Estate were auctioned in 1919/20 and outlying parts had already been sold in the 1890’s. The Jacobean wing of the house was rebuilt after this second fire, and the Countess, having been widowed in 1924, eventually moved into the West Wing where she remained with her beloved animals until her death in 1938.
In 1923, Daisy offered the whole estate to the Labour Party – they declined. She stood for Parliament as Labour candidate for Leamington & Warwick but lost out to Anthony Eden. Such was her commitment that in 1926 she then offered the entire estate to the TUC who were very keen to accept. Plans were made to develop Easton Lodge into a college and university but, after the General Strike in 1926 through which the TUC’s funds were severely depleted, the arrangement had to be abandoned as they were no longer able to finance such an institution.
A life-long protector of animals, Daisy also offered the estate to London Zoo but, as they had already acquired Whipsnade, they too declined. In 1937, the Countess established a country nature reserve on the estate, which became home to 200 red and fallow deer, 900 St Kilda sheep, Shetlands ponies, and aviaries for her increasing numbers of bird species.