Edward Elgar and Peter Hall at Tiddington

Postcard of Tiddington House, 1909.
Warwickshire County Record Office reference PH 352/5/26

Sir Edward Elgar

Sir Edward Elgar moved to Tiddington House’ around the age of 70 after his wife died, and lived there with his two beloved dogs. He rented the house from 1928-9 from the owners, Sir Gerard and Lady Munz of Umberslade. The house was Georgian and had a large garden reaching down to the river Avon with a boathouse, that still survives today. Elgar entertained friends here, including distinguished people like Adrian Boult and George Bernard Shaw.

Elgar is said to have taught the latter how to manage a bonfire, and he certainly enjoyed rowing on the river and visiting the theatre at Stratford upon Avon nearby. He started work on his 3rd Symphony whilst living there. The house remained empty for a while after he left for Worcester, and was eventually demolished in 1964; eight houses in Beeches Walk stand on the site today.1

Sir Peter Hall, and other theatrical stars

Next door to Tiddington House was another fine house Avoncliffe, owned by the Flower family; this was traditionally provided free of charge for leading stars, or the director of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford. In the 20th century famous inhabitants included: Tony Quayle, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, Charles Laughton, Peggy Ashcroft, and Ian Holm.

In 1960 Peter Hall was appointed artistic director of the theatre and lived at Avoncliffe with his first wife Leslie Caron (and later his second wife Jacqueline Taylor) until 1968. He drove a sporty green Jaguar and also owned a Rolls Royce. Whilst living there he founded the Royal Shakespeare Company and eventually left to live nearer London, where he worked as director of the National Theatre.

Avoncliffe had been built in 1818; it had a large garden sloping down to the river Avon but sadly has now been demolished and replaced by modern houses in Main Street – one of which is called Avoncliffe.2


1 Steve Newman: https://medium.com/@stevenewman.newman/sir-edward-elgar-moves-to-tiddington-house-stratford-upon-avon-late-1920s-759344106a93

2 Ibid plus Peter Hall  ‘Making an Exhibition of Myself’ chapter 5; Ian Holm ‘Acting my Life’ p. 112. 

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