A Twist of Fate

30th January 2019

When the 2nd Duke of Richmond was unhappy with his arranged suitor, he fled on his Grand Tour. It would be a chance encounter three years later, that saw the beginning of one of the most romantic love stories in the history of Goodwood.

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The future 2nd Duke of Richmond was born at Goodwood, on 18th May 1701. Charles Lennox, Earl of March, was brought up by a kind and loving mother.

His father however was more of a liability! In 1719 the Duke found himself with a gambling debt of £5,000, which he owed to the Earl of Cadogan, Ambassador to The Hague. To exonerate the debt, the Duke negotiated the marriage of his son to Cadogan’s daughter. It was a perfect match - the Richmond family was delighted to expand the family funds, a considerable dowry being a requirement, and the ambitious Cadogan would see his daughter become a duchess. The boy was eighteen when he first saw his future bride at her home in The Hague: Sarah Cadogan was only thirteen. Upon seeing her the Earl of March is reported to have commented, ‘Oh no, they’re not going to marry me to that dowdy’.

Oh, that is the beautiful Countess of March, the toast of London

To spare him further embarrassment, the young man was immediately dispatched on a Grand Tour of Europe, while the girl was returned to her mother, to be schooled as a future duchess. The couple exchanged dutiful letters. Three years later, after much uncertainty, Charles March returned to The Hague to claim his bride: but for the first evening he put off the encounter. Instead he went to the theatre. There the young Earl saw a lively sixteen-year-old, surrounded by admirers. He enquired of a bystander who she was. ‘Oh, that’, came the reply, ‘is the beautiful Countess of March, the toast of London’.

It was his own wife and the two were swept into the idyll of an arranged marriage that was profoundly passionate. The Duke was so pleased with the outcome that he entertained listeners with the history of their romance throughout the rest of his life.

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