The Prince of Silence

There have been many eccentric characters that have graced the British aristocracy over the centuries. No one knows for sure why, but access to vast sums of money and power might have made it possible for these people to indulge some desires that the general public could not.

One of the more interesting aristocrats in British history was the 5th Duke of Portland, William John Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck (we’ll call him William). He has a nickname that is more famous, however, and that is “The Prince of Silence.”

c1.staticflickr.com

He was born in 1800 in London, and lived a fairly unremarkable upper class life for many years. He served in the army, but left due to poor health. He also took a seat in Parliament at age 24, but he surrendered the seat to an uncle in 1826, once again for health problems.

His eccentricity started to show itself after he proposed marriage to an opera singer and was turned down. This was apparently too much for his mind to handle, and he retired to his estate, Welbeck Abbey.

He used only five rooms in his house, and wouldn’t let anyone except his valet see him. If he needed medical help, a doctor would have to shout questions at his valet from behind a locked door. The valet would then get the answer from William and shout them back. Since William nearly reached his 80th birthday, this must have worked.

It was inevitable, though, that other servants would encounter him when he left his rooms. If this happened, William would back up against a wall and pretend to be a statue. The servant would then have to walk by him without looking at him or acknowledging him in any way. If they failed to do this, they were fired immediately. If he needed to communicate with a servant, he would do so by mail, as he kept a mailbox outside his rooms specifically for staff communications.

His desire to not speak to anyone was certainly hampered by his building plans. He was constantly adding to his home, and hundreds of workmen were employed in this task at all times. Even these construction projects were eccentric, too. He had 15 miles of tunnels constructed underground, as well as a series of subterranean rooms, included an observatory with a glass roof. He also built a giant underground ballroom with a large hydraulic elevator, but he obviously never held any parties there. In addition, he got rid of most of his furniture and painted many of his rooms bright pink.

He became more reclusive as he got older, and he allowed Welbeck Abbey to fall into disrepair. When he died, he was at his home in London, because the Abbey was no longer fit for human habitation.

Since he had no direct heirs, his estate passed to a cousin. Years later, part of Welbeck Abbey was turned into a museum that showcased William’s eccentric life.

Next Article
ADVERTISEMENT
  • The unstoppable Iron Mike

    If you thought Iron Man was indestructible wait until you hear about Michael Malloy or Mike The Durable as his friends liked to call him. Malloy was a firefighter who lives in New York City during the 1920s but by 1933 he was homeless and had fallen deep into the clutches of alcoholism. You see...

    Read More
  • You Want To Live Forever? Start By Getting A Dog.

    Next time you find yourself screaming at your dog in anger because the young puppy chewed up your shoes, tore down your curtains or ruined your sofa, do keep this in mind: Buddy may actually be adding years on your life! In Sweden, researchers followed over 3 million people over the age of forty for...

    Read More
  • The Town That Respectfully Maintained The Grave Of A Toilet

    General George Smith Patton was a highly decorated senior officer of the United States Army, he is best known for commanding the U.S Third Army during the Allied liberation of Normandy in June 1944. His military exploits are well noted and documented, in fact, he is seen as one of the greatest war generals to...

    Read More
  • New Evidence Shows Menopause Treatment Not a Cancer Risk

    An exciting major new study has found that taking hormone replacement therapy to counter the symptoms of menopause does not increase a woman’s risk of early death. Researchers in the early 2000s discovered a link between women taking HRT for over five years and a higher risk of cancer. It even detailed how patients could...

    Read More
  • The Mysterious tale of Lucky Lord Lucan

    Some claim it to be one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th Century and when you dive into the story it really just begs the question - what in the world happened to Lucky Lord Lucan? On November 7, 1974, Lord Richard John Bingham the Seventh Earl of Lucan murdered his wife’s nanny by...

    Read More
  • A French Noblewoman Who Became a Ferocious Pirate Legend

    During the height of the Hundred Years War between England and France, one French noblewoman became feared throughout France for her ferocious never-ending appetite for revenge. Jeanne de Clisson with the help of the English outfitted three warships and caused havoc to any French ships crossing the English channel. Some may say privateer but at...

    Read More
  • The Native American Who Saved the Pilgrims

    Many of us are familiar with the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving, but have you heard of Squanto, the Patuxet Native American from Cape Cod Bay that saved the Pilgrims from disease and disaster? Squanto was a young man when, in 1614, he was abducted by Spanish conquistadors. He was forcefully taken by ship back...

    Read More