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The Life and Death of Lady Isobel Barnett

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Steve_uk, Jan 10, 2012.

  1. Steve_uk

    Steve_uk Well-Known Member BANNED

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    As we read this week of the Anthony Worral-Thompson case my mind travels back 32 years to the Lady Isobel Barnett affair. Following in her doctor father's footsteps this intelligent, attractive, unassuming and cultured lady could well have been one of the Buckingham Palace debutantes of her day, studying medicine at Glasgow University and after marriage to solicitor Sir Geoffrey Barnett took up a post as obstetrician in Leicestershire, living an idyllic existence in the village of Cossington, where this Lady of the Manor would have partaken of a full social whirl including judging the local Flower show, attending coffee mornings and local jamborees and fundraising for the Conservative Association, in an era where time stood still. After the birth of her son Alastair in 1944 she became a magistrate, and it wasn't long before her fame reached the BBC hierarchy, who willingly gave her a place on a new panel game What's My Line in 1953 on the social medium of television, still in its infancy, and with no real competition apart from radio she became an instant hit, possessing the intellect of Margaret Thatcher and the stage presence of Grace Kelly.

    As the 1950s passed, community links loosened, social reverence diminished and life became racier so the market for staid panel games declined and Lady Barnett found herself out on a limb. She was still a practising magistrate, yet the automatic respect for such an occupation had gone, and maybe Lady Isobel felt this change in social attitudes more than most. With the death of her husband in 1970 she would find it hard to adapt to the role of sequestered widow, where she would be invited to fewer and fewer dinner parties, and this professional woman must have felt a sense of loneliness in the quiet, insipid village where she resided after the stimulus of the bright lights of the television studio in earlier years.

    Her new-found excitant would lie in symbiosis with her unblemished existence heretofore. She would go to the local store with hat and coat, a wicker basket looped round her arm. Unbeknownst to anyone but herself she had sewn a cloth bag inside the coat, thus making a concealed inner pocket on her person.This still in the days of local village shops with no CCTV, as Lady Barnett moved freely up and down the aisles she would have to be physically seen to have taken goods to be accused of shoplifting. Whether it was this fact that kept her making this a habit, whether she was exhibiting some early stage of mental illness or whether the activity provided an excitement from the humdrum one can only surmise. In the Autumn of 1980 shopkeeper Roger Fowkes caught her filching a tin of tuna and cream, value 87p,and the Police were called.

    Imagine ex-magistrate David Cameron's mother caught in similar circumstances and that's going some way to the furore this incident caused at the time. Lady Barnett would brazen it out and elect to be tried by her peers. Whether the jurors listened to the evidence fully and found the case against her overwhelming,or some just wanted to hit back at perceived aristocracy in a time of economic woes, on Friday 17th October 1980 at London Magistrates' Court she was found guilty of shoplifting and fined £75. One question put to her outside her home that weekend would prove fatal. It was: "What do you think this conviction has done to your social standing?" to which she bravely replied: "I don't think ladies have much social standing today", yet the damage was done. On Sunday evening she was found dead in the bath, into which she had thrown an electric heater, causing ventricular fibrillation and heart attack. The local doctor gave the cause of death unusually as uremia, her body was cremated in haste before a full post-mortem could be carried out, and the whole affair was hushed up.

    The gardens adjacent to Cossington Hall have since been built on by developers, yet a Barnett Close exists in memory of Lady Isobel, along with (one hopes)abundantly growing Lady Isobel fuchsias intertwining with the pale lavender flowers of the similar eponymous hosta, in memory of a life cut short.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017
  2. jane m kelly

    jane m kelly New Member

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  3. jane m kelly

    jane m kelly New Member

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    Dear Steve,

    I enjoyed your piece on Lady Barnett.

    I remember her well, as a child she was always on Any Questions. She was omnipresent in my life, like Mrs Whitehouse and Malcolm Muggeridge. That was a great age of radio and TV discussion programmes.
    I would like to do a portrait of her, as I am working on a series of paintings about women of the late 1950's. Do you know a site where there are some good images of her, in full bloom, so to speak?
  4. ONEDUNME

    ONEDUNME Administrator

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    And if you know of any where she's got her tits out, give us a shout :thumb
  5. Wayne

    Wayne Active Member

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    Come on. Who's on the wind-up? Jane M Kelly ffs. :lol
    Or has Steve created another username to answer his own posts because no-one else can be arsed?

    Just noticed as well that he posted that original shite at half three in the morning. :lol

    Just gets more and more bizarre.
  6. Steve_uk

    Steve_uk Well-Known Member BANNED

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    http://edithhopegardenjournal.blogspot.com/2010/08/name-dropping-lady-isobel-barnett.html

    The article took me rather longer than I had envisaged,which is why I was up until the small hours. Thank you Jane for your comment and may I apologize on behalf of some of my fellow men for the inappropriate content which has emerged on this site. There was an article I was desperate to read inTime Magazine but I was unable to get the subscription in time so had to make do with internet sources and what I remembered in my head. Like you I recalled a true lady,though of course she wasn't by birth,and I just wonder if all these nude Women's Institute calendars which are ubiquitous in the modern age would have met with her approval and serve any useful purpose at all.
  7. rcgills

    rcgills Moderator

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    4,228
    :lol

    What exactly did you think Jane was referring to by pictures of her "in full bloom", Steve?
  8. ONEDUNME

    ONEDUNME Administrator

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    10,617
    Or did she mean "in full bloomers"?

    I prefer the ones with the bit missing in the middle to be honest.
  9. Seen

    Seen Moderator

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    3,405
    You sound like my kind of guy, ODM :naughty
  10. rcgills

    rcgills Moderator

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    Strange, I always had you down as liking to sniff the bit in the middle :unsure

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