Claude Grahame-White
Claude Grahame-White
Claude Grahame-White, 1911
Photo Courtesy of
The Vanity Fair Print Company
Claude Grahame-White, 1910
Photo Courtesy of
Staffordshire Past-Track

via email from Arthur J. Spivak, 5-21-07
      Claude Grahame-White was my great uncle. My maternal grandmother's sister, Phoebe Lee, was married to him. The strange thing is that my family knows very little about him. I have a few photos, newspaper clippings, and silverware (including some pieces from the Aeroclub of London at Hendon) but not much else. Unfortunately, I never met him.
Art Spivack
"Claudie marries Miss Dorothy Parker"
via email from Doug Killick, 5-23-04
Dear Mr Cooper.
In 1912 Claudie married Miss Dorothy Parker (a New York society lady) at Hylands House, Chelmsford, Essex. Claudie arrived by means of an aircraft loaned by Sam Cody, landing on the lawn. As we are re-enacting that era at the house in September I am trying to find out more about the aircraft. I believe it was a Cody Cathedral although I am unable to confirm this. A poem, composed at the event mentions a "cathedral arrival" We have a photograph of the wedding party alas omitting the aircraft. If you can throw any light on this I would be grateful.
The wedding ended in divorce!
Doug Killick
Duty Manager, Hylands House.
Editor's Note: If you are curious about "Hylands House," as I was, you can learn more about it by visiting their website at:
Hylands House
      If you can help answer Doug's question, please contact me and I will forward your message to him.

via email from Doug Killick, 5-12-05
Hi Ralph,
A little more information regarding Claude.
He married Dorothy Taylor at Chelmsford in Essex, England in 1912. Divorced 1916.
Married Ethel (Grace) Levy the divorced wife of George Cohan (of Yankee Doodle Dandy fame) Divorced 1939.
Married Pheobe Lee in 1939.
Claude died as an in patient of Nice Hospital, France. Leaving her a widow.
He owned a 177 ton yacht called Majesta based at Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK
Friends of Tommy Sopwith, airplane designer and keen yachtsman.
Regards Doug Killick

via email from Doug Killick, 8-11-05
Hi Ralph,
Found this item regarding Claude whilst I was researching an old WW1 airfield:
On the night of 5/6 September 1914 Claude with Richard Gates, his former general manager, who both held commissions in the Royal Naval Air Service. They took off from Hendon airfield in a Farman (Longhorn)? they flew for 1 hour searching for a reported Zeppelin without success. This flight was at the request of the Admiralty. It was the first ever night patrol over London. The following night a Deperdussin also from Hendon was sent up to find the mystery Zeppelin. This also drew a blank. At dawn an Albatros B ll patrolled for 30 mins also without success
Hope this is of interest.
Regards Doug Killick

via email from Doug Killick, 8-13-05
August 28th 1912 Claude, financed by Lord Northcliffe, took off from Southend on Sea in a "Henry Farman" biplane fitted with floats. His passenger was his wife, Dorothy. The plane was painted sky blue with struts lined with GOLD!
The aircraft was emblazoned with "Wake up England" and was on a national tour to promote aviation.
The first landing was at Clacton, off West Beach.
Claude and Dorothy then took lunch with Lady Gooch at the Grand Hotel, Clacton.
After lunch they took off and gave a flying display to the crowds on the beach.
They then departed and gave flying displays at another 121 towns. A further tour was made in 1913 but with a lesser impact.
It would appear that Dorothy was an ardent flyer.
Doug Killick

via email from Doug Killick, 8-17-04
      Some facinating facts emerging from my contacts.
      The Cody Cathedral 3 with the Austro-Daimler 120hp engine driving a single prop, had a landing distance of 70 metres. This was due to the fact that Sam Cody had designed in a very high landing angle. The take off was very similar, but with limited instrumentation ,the rotation speed (Vr) was guess work. An educated estimate was about 40-50kts. I thank the Senior Technical Captain of Jepperson Airways for taking the time and trouble in calculating these figures.
"Claudie marries Miss Dorothy TAYLOR"
Correction via email from Fay Davis, 8-17-04
      Claude Grahame-White did not marry Dorothy Parker in 1912, but rather he married Dorothy Taylor , who was my Aunt by marriage. He is correct that the marriage ended in divorce, and Dorothy went on to marry Count Carlos di Frasso, later Prince of Italy. Dorothy is famous as "Countess Dorothy" and numerous articles, books, movies have been about her life. He did fly to the wedding and landed on the lawn, and they both took off in his plane after the wedding. Our pictures are limited, but we do have some and I can see if the airplane is in any of our pictures.
      I would appreciate being in touch with Mr. Killick. He mentioned that he has some pictures of the wedding and I would be interested in perhaps purchasing copies of these pictures.

Excerpts from Blue Ribbon of the Air
by Henry Serrano Villard
     Claude Grahame-White, born at Southhampton on 31 August 1879 and educated at Bedford Grammar School had been a yachtsman, a motoring enthusiast, and a dealer in automobiles before he was converted to aviation at the Rheims meeting in 1909. Forthwith, he had ordered a duplicate of Bleriot's ill-fated Model XII; and to become acquainted with its construction he enrolled as a worker in the Bleriot establishment at Neuilly-sur-Seine. He could hardly restrain his impatience.
From Blue Ribbon of the Air by Henry Serrano Villard, 1987

     Editors Note: I was privileged to know Henry during several years before his death. He was an fascinating companion and a lifetime friend of aviation. For many other interesting episodes in the life of Grahame-White, and for the complete story of the Gordon Bennett Race, I invite you to read Henry's book.

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