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Lady Christian Mary Hesketh


(Christian Mary McEwen)

1929 - 2006

Author, public servant and hostess. Born into a talented family at Marchmont House in the Scottish Borders, Lady Hesketh was the daughter of politician and landowner Sir John McEwen of Marchmont and Bardrochat (1893 - 1962) and sister of botanical artist Rory (1932-82) and folk singer Eck (b.1935).

In 1949, she married Freddy, 2nd Lord Hesketh and she moved to Easton Neston, a fine country house in Northamptonshire. Her husband died suddenly in 1955 leaving her to bring up three children and she was involved in a car accident which left he in a coma for six weeks and cost the sight in an eye, which left her wearing her trademark black eye-patch. Hesketh threw herself into public service; she was involved with several local schools and colleges, was a county councillor, a member of the Arts Council and served as Deputy Lieutenant and High Sheriff of Northamptonshire.

A noted Scottish historian and expert on the Stuart dynasty, she wrote Tartans (1961), still the definitive book on the subject which was published in twenty countries. This was followed by The Country House Cookery Book (1985), written with Elisabeth Luard and Laura Blond, and John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee (1989), written with Magnus Linklater. She also wrote for The Spectator and History Today. Hesketh was also noted as a generous hostess, actively making new friends from all quarters of society and inviting them to dinner parties characterised by discussion and debate.

She was awarded an OBE in 1984.


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