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23 Jan 2024
updated 23 Jan 2024
Photo of Bill Kaulback in uniform

Roy James Alfred (Bill) Kaulback
(11 May 1911 – 27 Jun 1996)

Click here for his obituary on the website of The Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment or here for a local copy.

Click the titles for his very detailed obituaries in The Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Rutland & Stamford Mercury and the Old Rugbeian Society Bulletin.

Click here for his entry in the Rugby School Who's Who edition of 1989.

Click here for the elegaic valediction spoken at his funeral service by his youngest son Roy.

Click here for his biographical details as summarised from his family history The Kaulbacks.

For an account of his active service 1942-1945, compiled from his diaries by his mother Alice Kaulback and reproduced from The Kaulbacks, click the following pages.

pp 33, 34-35, 36.

(Further to the account on p35 of Bill's decoration with the DSO for his gallantry and leadership at the Battle of Müssendorf, click here for the field dispatch commending his actions that day, signed by Field Marshall Montgomery himself.)

And for a fascinating retrospective dialogue between Bill and his brother Ron also reproduced from The Kaulbacks, click here.

Arma Virumque Cano

Tempora mutantur et nos illis, as I recall with customary inexactitude – the aphorism comes in various different forms anyway, and its basic tenor is that times change and us with them. Ron was relaxed about this and once the Second War was over he moved to South West Ireland with his family and 'went native' in that he embraced the people, the culture and the way of life. (He also took Irish nationality1.) I don't blame him – were I not dependent on the UK NHS for very expensive medication that keeps me alive and kicking I would love to live over there too, amidst beautiful scenery, lovely people, and an unhurried pace of life.

Bill was quite different. He remained very active in the high-powered neo-imperial Middle Eastern petroleum milieu2 for a good few years after the war before semi-retiring to the ultra-smart Sloane Square district of London, and then finally moving to a quiet corner of Stamford in Lincolnshire. He completed The Kaulbacks in mid 1976, though our autographed copy is dated early 1979. One of these days I'd like to make the entire book accessible via this website, as it is a distillation of his very considerable intellect, coupled with (as I remarked earlier) a justifiable pride of ancestry.

A reflection of this was the (von) Kaulbach coat of arms that was displayed in his London townhouse3 and later on in the main hall of his Stamford mansion.

Drawing of the Kaulback coat of arms

It also adorned, in embossed form, the front cover of The Kaulbacks and, in more detail, was printed on p 3 of the text within, where he remarks

"That the family was ennobled early may be deduced from our chivalry: 'Gules a Fesse wavy between three Escutcheons argent', the simplicity of which indicates that it was probably granted us sometime in the 12th or 13th centuries, though not surprisingly, in view of the recurrent wars and burnings, no written record of this has so far come to light.

The lack of quarterings also shows that the von Kaulbachs did not intermarry with great houses and we can deduce from this that they resisted the temptation to be drawn into the mediaeval Power Game which caused the ruin and eclipse of so many families."

For those such as myself to whom heraldry is a magnum mysterium (well, I may be just a page or two ahead in the textbook), the heraldic image as a whole is most properly called an achievement or a blazon, and in this particular case, which actually quite generic, it comprises the following elements:

  • The central shield, called an escutcheon (from Latin scutum = shield)
  • Subordinate shields (in this case three in number) also called escutcheons
  • A horizontal band called a fess or fesse (in this case wavy) (from Latin fascia = band)
  • A helmet, called a helm or casque, surmounting the escutcheon
  • A loop of twisted fabric called a wreath or torse, surmounting the helm
  • A real or mythological heraldic beast or head (in this case a peacock carrying a horseshoe), called a crest, surmounting the wreath
  • A swirling representation of a knight's surcoat torn or hacked in battle, called a mantling (in this case mantled or, doubled vert, I think)
  • An elaborately curling scroll beneath the escutcheon, bearing a motto usually in Norman French or mediaeval Latin (in this case, FRAPPE FORT = STRIKE HARD, particularly appropriate to Bill as an Indian Army amateur boxing champion and professional soldier)

The seven principal colours, or tinctures, used are standardised as or = gold, argent = silver, (jointly known as metals), azure = blue, gules = red, purpure = purple, sable = black and vert = green.

(For further discussion of heraldic basics, please see the Heraldic Footprint section, in which the Waddell arms are semiotically deconstructed in an attempt to clarify the early back-history of the family.)

Bill had evidently commissioned this oil painting of the Kaulbach arms a good many years ago and by now it is much darkened by age and exposure, quite unsuitable for a decent photographic reproduction, and so I'm currently trying to obtain a fresh copy from a German website. The whole procedure is like trying to steal a secret blueprint of the latest vergeltungswaffe, but I live in hope.

Alternatively, one can commission a fresh representation4, in digital format, from a website such as www.fleurdelis.com/coatofarms.htm which also provides an excellent alphabetic compendium of heraldic features such as peacocks and horseshoes for example!

Either way, I look forward to displaying a bright new copy for Kaulbacks everywhere to admire and make use of.

1: His wife Audrey, though as Irish as the Irish themselves, resident in Ireland to her dying day, resolutely retained her British nationality – and her total attachment to the Monarchy. So, coming across a large enamelled plaque of the Royal Coat of Arms somewhere or another, it seemed a really good idea to attach it over the front door of the newly rebuilt house after the Great Fire. She was always so wonderfully enthusiastic about everything she did … but after a day or two had passed, there was a muffled phone call … The Lads weren't happy about it … the implication was obvious, and so down it came.
2: Kaulback family tradition asserts that Bill was a (the) Project Manager for the construction of (one of) the (three) oil terminal(s) built on Kharg Island, off the Iranian coast, from 1956 onwards. He certainly was strongly involved with the Anglo Iranian Oil Co / BP, and gained quite a tough reputation in a very hard-nosed industry, but the details are impossible to ascertain or verify just from the internet.
3: Located at 69 Cadogan Gardens SW3 2RB (not to be confused with the property at E18 1LY!), Bill ran it as a select private hotel, The Fenja, named for his wife who was the true châtelaine behind the scenes. Indeed a condition of its subsequent sale in 1986 was that the hotel should continue under this name, but at some later date it was rebranded as The London Outpost. The internet ratings declined some years ago (<2013) and it has quite possibly closed since then.
4: One must remember, however, that much of the printed design for a given coat of arms is more the artist's preference or the style of a particular herald, and not a part of any particular blazon. The wreath, the mantling and the banners for names and mottoes, for example, are not an official element of the blazon of arms (though in Scotland any alteration to the motto must be officially reregistered). The helm, likewise, is not a part of the official blazon. Some historians regard the design of the helm as representative of a certain century or social status, but there are differences of opinion on this matter.

The Great Detective

For a good number of years, on our visits to her Uncle Bill and Aunt Fenja at 82 Tinwell Road in Stamford, my wife Sonia and I, plus our faithful Sally, of the Parson Russell variety, would step or trot, wearily through their slightly unprepossessing porch into the hall, passing as we did so a rather nondescript oil painting hanging on the right-hand wall.

After their deaths, and their younger son's death, we volunteered to help their elder son to sort through the mountain of family possessions and guide them, if necessary, to appropriate recipients. Along with other more identifiable family portraits from bygone centuries, the painting in the porch had to find a new home.

The inscription on the frame simply said George Howard, and a faded label on the back said Alice Lowther. This was a challenge! Who were they? Would we require the services of the Baker Street Irregulars, or even the world-weary Holmes himself, with his immense compilations of Society, Demi-Monde and Underworld newspaper cuttings, to tickle things along?

Getting home, I discovered that the modern equivalent of such sources, the internet, was more than equal to the task. The remarkable website www.thepeerage.com had all the answers, although of course one had to gradually cross-check and zero in on them, hacking through the dense undergrowth of late Victorian minor ennoblements.

Cutting straight to the chase, please note in turn George's aunt, his mother and himself as per that website.

1) Hon. Charlotte Alice Parke
b. 1828, d. 5 January 1908

Hon. Charlotte Alice Parke was the daughter of James Parke, 1st Baron Wensleydale of Walton and Cecilia Arabella Frances Barlow. She married Hon. William Lowther, son of Colonel Hon. Henry Cecil Lowther and Lady Lucy Eleanor Sherard, on 17 December 1853. She died on 5 January 1908.

Her married name became Lowther.

Children of Hon. Charlotte Alice Parke and Hon. William Lowther:

Mary Eleanor Rose Lowther d. 14 Aug 1929
Mabel Cecily Lowther
Mildred Alice Lowther d. 8 Sep 1876
James William Lowther, 1st Viscount Ullwater b. 1 Apr 1855, d. 27 Mar 1949
Rt. Hon. Sir Gerald Augustus Lowther, 1st / last Bt. b. 16 Feb 1858, d. 5 Apr 1916
Harold Arthur Lowther b. 23 Jul 1864, d. 20 Dec 1929
Sir Henry Cecil Lowther b. 27 Jan 1869, d. 1 Nov 1940

2) Hon. Mary Priscilla Harriet Parke
b. circa 1820, d. 26 August 1843

Hon. Mary Priscilla Harriet Parke was the daughter of James Parke, 1st Baron Wensleydale of Walton and Cecilia Arabella Frances Barlow. She married Hon. Charles Wentworth George Howard, son of George Howard, 6th Earl of Carlisle and Lady Georgiana Dorothy Cavendish, on 8 August 1842. She died on 26 August 1843.

Her married name became Howard.

Child of Mary Priscilla Harriet Parke and Hon. Charles Wentworth George Howard:

George James Howard, 9th Earl of Carlisle b. 12 Aug 1843, d. 16 Apr 1911

3) George James Howard, 9th Earl of Carlisle
b. 12 August 1843, d. 16 April 1911

George James Howard,1,  2 9th Earl of Carlisle was born on 12 August 1843 at Park Street, Grosvenor Square, London, England. He was the son of Hon. Charles Wentworth George Howard and Mary Priscilla Harriet Parke. He married Hon. Rosalind Frances Stanley, daughter of Edward John Stanley, 2nd Baron Stanley of Alderley and Hon. Henrietta Maria Dillon-Lee, on 4 October 1864 at Alderley, Cheshire, England. He died on 16 April 1911 at age 67 at Brackland, Hindhead, Surrey, England, from heart failure. He was buried on 20 April 1911 at Lanercost Abbey, England. His will was probated on 15 June 1911, at £43,970.

He was educated between 1857 and 1861 at Eton College, Windsor, Berkshire, England. He graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge University, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.). He held the office of Member of Parliament (M.P.) (Liberal) for East Cumberland between 1879 and 1880. He held the office of Member of Parliament (M.P.) (Liberal) for East Cumberland between 1881 and 1885. He held the office of Justice of the Peace (J.P.) for Cumberland. He succeeded to the title of 9th Earl of Carlisle [E., 1661] on 29 March 1889. He succeeded to the title of 9th Baron Dacre of Gillesland, Cumberland [E., 1661] on 29 March 1889. He succeeded to the title of 9th Viscount Howard of Morpeth, Northumberland [E., 1661] on 29 March 1889. He graduated from Durham University, Durham, County Durham, England, in 1908 with a Doctor of Civil Law (D.C.L.). He was a painter in the Pre-Raphaelite manner.

Children of George James Howard, 9th Earl of Carlisle and Hon. Rosalind Frances Stanley:

Lady Mary Henrietta Howard b. 1865, d. 2 Sep 1956
Charles James Stanley Howard, 10th Earl of Carlisle b. 8 Mar 1867, d. 20 Jan 1912
Lady Cecilia Maude Howard b. 1868, d. 6 May 1947
Hon. Hubert George Lyulph Howard b. 3 Apr 1871, d. Sep 1898
Hon. Christopher Edward Howard b. 2 Jun 1873, d. 1 Sep 1896
Hon. Oliver Howard b. 14 Mar 1875, d. 20 Sep 1908
Hon. Geoffrey William Algernon Howard b. 12 Feb 1877, d. 20 Jun 1935
Lieutenant Hon. Michael Francis Stafford Howard b. 23 Jan 1880, d. 9 Oct 1917
Lady Dorothy Georgiana Howard b. 1881, d. 14 Sep 1968
Elizabeth Dacre Howard3 b. 1883
Lady Aurea Fredeswide Howard b. 1884

This was indeed our man, a painter himself, in the pre-Raphaelite style, and a friend of Edmund Burne-Jones. Not to mention himself the heir to the stupendous Castle Howard in Yorkshire.

But who had painted the painter himself? There was not far to look. Cherchez la tante.

Ampthill Park House

The following photographs originate from a historical snapshot of Ampthill Park House, family seat of the Lowther family in Bedfordshire, compiled by the Ampthill & District Archaeological & Local History Society, may their shadow never decrease. Please click the images to enlarge them (if feasible).

My purpose is to reveal photographs of Alice Lowther and her nephew George in family contexts. Photographs from the Victorian and Edwardian eras invariably look extraordinarily stilted and never suggest that anybody is having much fun – their intention was primarily to convey how upper-middle-class, indeed aristocratic, everybody is. These are no exception!

As we shall see, the Lowther's townhouse in Holland Park was where Alice pursued her more satisfying artistic inclinations.

Lowther Lodge

Dustjacket, Lowther Lodge, the studio

As per p158 of Caroline Dakers' book The Holland Park Circle, the dust-jacket of which is reproduced above, [18 Hyde Park Gate] was the first house that the architect Richard Norman Shaw had designed in London and marked a new direction in his career – his development of the Queen Anne style. It also brought him different clients, including the Honourable William Lowther MP, and the stockbroker and amateur artist John Postle Heseltine, who commissioned houses between 1871 and 1874, to be built close by: Lowther Lodge (now the Royal Geographical Society) on Kensington Gore and Heseltine's house, 196 Queen's Gate.

Both Lowther and Heseltine were discerning and wealthy men who entertained the artists whose works hung upon their walls. Lowther was married to Charlotte Alice Parke, aunt of George Howard and a talented amateur artist with a reputation for high-mindedness; [it was said that] at some of her entertainments it was not easy to tell where society ended and high thinking began.

The Lowthers purchased the Auckland estate on Kensington Gore, two acres of gardens and Eden Lodge, for £36,000. In their new red-brick house, Shaw provided them with a large central hall which was used as a ball-room and an exhibition space for the Royal Amateur Art Association which Parke founded, [described as] a dignified and artistic setting in which to entertain their elegant friends from the worlds of politics and society.

Lowther Lodge, the saloon, looking eastwards

Lowther Lodge, the saloon, looking westwards

High House, Campsea Ashe / Campsey Ash

About a decade later, the Lowthers also acquire Ash High House as a country residence in the village of Campsea Ashe, 6 miles south west of Saxmundham.


Ash High House was the home from 1652 to 1882 of the Sheppard family, part of the house damaged by fire in 1865 being rebuilt in congruent style by the architect Anthony Salvin. In 1882 house and estate were sold to William Lowther, for a time MP for Westmorland. At its next sale, in 1949, Ashe High House was described as having 31 bedrooms and dressing rooms, 6 bathrooms, 6 reception rooms and a library. The estate in 1882 amounted to 4,100 acres, 144 acres of deer and home parks, and 240 acres of woods and plantations, with 13 farms. The new owners were residents of Campsea Ashe for the next 66 years. The property passed in 1912 to Lowther's son, James, Speaker of the House of Commons from 1905 until 1921, created subsequently Viscount Ullswater of Campsea Ashe. In died at the High House in March 1949, aged 94 years.

After repeated sales following the Second World War, Ashe High House fell into ruin and only the foundations now survive.

Fortunately, however, the parish church and churchyard between them contain a great many Lowther family memorials and gravestones, all in excellent condition.

Church of St John the Baptist, Campsea Ashe.
Click here to see the Lowther family memorials and gravestones.

Royal Geographical Society

After Lowther died in 1912 his son sold the house to the Royal Geographical Society, which converted it into its headquarters, commissioning extensions from G. L. Kennedy and F. B. Nightingale in 1928 to 1930, which included the Society's lecture theatre. A further extension, including a new exhibition space, reading room and storage area for the Society's collections, was completed in 2004.

[This is indeed a peculiarly appropriate new purpose for the building, as both Bill Kaulback himself and his brother Ron were for many years prominent Fellows of the RGS]


Apart from a couple of small water-colours of rural scenes, spotted in an obscure auctioneer's on-line catalogue a few years ago, nothing of Aunt Alice's artistic output seems to have survived, other than her portrait of the young George Howard.

But where on earth had Bill found it? And had he recognised its familial significance – as he ought, of course, as his sister-in-law Audrey was a Glossop Howard, so to speak. And ought he have presented it to her? As a visitor to the house, she herself had passed it in the porch innumerable times, but if she did notice it, clearly never coveted it.

My own theory is that he had come across it, stacked with other forgotten old family portraits in a basement of 1, Kensington Gore (as Lowther Lodge was prosaically renamed by then), at a time when he lived not far away at 69 Cadogan Gardens, and thought to himself that it needed a good home (after due negotiation with the RGS of course) ... after that, who knows whether he even gave it a second thought.

And, finally, yes it did find an appropriate and appreciative recipient, Bill's niece Susie.

For another instance of Bill as snapper-up of unconsidered trifles, please see the Battle of Atbara et seq.