Oswald Mosley

Benito Mussolini and Oswald Mosley in 1936

I’d never heard of Oswald Mosley (or Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley of Ancoats, 6th Baronet to give him his full name and title) until I was a young teenager. I’d bought myself a black shirt in the vague/vain idea that it would make me look cool. My usually calm father seemed angry and kept mentioning The Blackshirts. I’d never heard of them, or the British Union of Fascists, but quickly abandoned my black shirt (mainly because I found it exaggerated any dandruff I may have had at the time)!

I’m older, and hopefully wiser now. My interest in Oswald Mosley was recently renewed whilst researching the history of Brookfield House for Nantwich Museum.

An elderly resident of Nantwich (who’s 99 years old) lived next door to Brookfield, and thought that Oswald Mosley was a resident or certainly visitor there. I thought that this could be an interesting story and spent a lot of time looking for evidence.

I managed to get hold (from my local library) a copy of My Life – an auto biography by Oswald Mosley. I also got Rules of the Game & Beyond the Pale, Memoirs of Sir Oswald Mosley and Family which was written by Nicholas Mosley (his first son). The third book I got was Diana Mosley which is a biography of his second wife by Anne De Courcy.

As a result I know a lot more about Oswald Mosley. If you would like to learn more, I would particularly recommend the book by Anne De Courcy. The other two books are interesting in that they confirm facts, and show that Oswald Mosley (and his wives) would never accept that he was wrong.

Mosley was born into a privileged family, and had a public school education. He was a convincing speaker, and had a curious career in politics. He was a Conservative MP for Harrow from 1918 to 1924. He then became a Labour MP for Smethwick in 1926, but became disillusioned and in 1931 started the New Party and became increasingly Fascist.

His personal life is fascinating – and appalling. He first married Lady Cynthia Curzon (who’s father George Nathaniel Curzon became 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston), but had numerous affairs. His policy at the time was “Vote Labour: sleep Tory”!

After his first wife (known as Cimmie) became suspicious of his affairs, Mosley gave her a list of all his women he’d been involved with. She burst into tears and said ‘but they’re all my best friends’. A friend (Bob Boothby) asked why Cimmie was upset and Tom said ‘I’ve told her about all the women I’ve been to bed with since we’ve been married.’ Bob Boothby said ‘All, Tom?’ and Tom said ‘Well, well all except her stepmother and her sister.’

After Cimmie died he married Diana, who was one of the people he was having affairs with. Diana was one of the Mitford girls – but was married to wealthy heir Bryan Guinness when the affair started. Mosley’s wedding to Diana took place in secret on 6 October 1936 in Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels’ drawing room. Adolf Hitler was one of the guests. Diana was remarkably faithful to Oswald Mosley – even though this wasn’t reciprocated.

Mosley would lie, or at least be economical with the truth. In my opinion he was anti-Semitic (although curiously he always denied this). He would frequently provoke people – and as a result violence would happen. You can read more about Mosley’s political views elsewhere, and I suggest you do. In today’s political climate I fear that similar people are coming to the fore.

Did Oswald Mosley have a connection with Nantwich? In 1936 they moved to Wootton Lodge, over 40 miles away, in Staffordshire. I’ve searched for evidence that he was in Nantwich in local papers for that period, and in other sources, but have found no evidence that he was ever in Nantwich. However in 1941 Michael Grange Moseley (note the different spelling of the surname) was at Brookfield. Michael Moseley’s father in law was an Oswald Moseley – but from Agden Hall, and not (as far as I am aware) connected in any way with Sir Oswald Mosley. So the stories about parties every night at Brookfield (with all the lights on during the blackouts) to guide the Nazi bombers looking for Crewe may not have any connection with Sir Oswald Mosley. But never let the truth get in the way of a good story….