Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Lady Maud Warrender (1870-1945) – poet, singer, writer, patron of the arts & Head of the British Poetry Society

With thanks to Dr Margaret Stetz for telling me about Maud Warrender

Ethel Maud Ashley-Cooper was born on 16th December 1870. Her parents were Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 8th Earl of Shaftesbury Bt DL, (son of the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury), and his wife, Harriet Augusta Anna Seymourina (Chichester), only daughter (and only surviving child) of the 3rd Marquess of Donegall. Ethel Maud’s siblings were: Margaret, b. 1858, Evelyn, b. 1865, Mildred, b. 1867, Violet, b.1868 and Anthony, b. 1869.  The family lived on an estate near Wimbourne, Dorset, UK.

On 6th February 1894 at St. Paul’s Church in Knightsbridge, London, Maud married Vice-Admiral Sir George John Scott Warrender of Lochend, 7th Baronet, KCB, KCVO (31 July 1860 – 8 January 1917), who served as a senior officer in the British Royal Navy during the First World War.   One of his sisters, Alice Warrender, founded the Hawthornden Prize. 

Maud and George went on to have three children: Sir Victor Alexander George Anthony Warrender 8th Bt., 1st Baron Bruntisfield, Harold John Warrender and Violet Helen Marie Warrender. In 1903, the Warrenders bought Leasam House near Rye in East Sussex. Maud entertained many of the famous people of the day - the Elgars, the Kiplings, the Alfred Lyttletons, Nellie Melba and Ellen Terry.   George became Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth in March 1916. He requested retirement in December 1916, owing to a deterioration in his health. He died in January 1917. 

After her husband's death in January 1917, Maud worked for the Red Cross collecting books for the wounded. In her memoir "My First Sixty Years", she says:  "When I returned from Plymouth in 1917 I worked for the Red Cross Hospital Library, which was started by Mrs. Gaskell in order to supply the wounded  everywhere in our many campaigns during the War.   Millions of books were sent out from Surrey House, which was lent by Lady Battersea, where now stands the Regal Cinema at the Marble Arch.  The Red Cross Library was started by May Gaskell because she had remembered how, in the Boer War, any books that happened to be in the Hospital had to be divided into portions and handed on from bed to bed until they fell to pieces." 

In 1917 Maud became a District Commissioner of the Rye Division of Girl Guides and wrote a Marching Song for the Guides, "bringing in all our slogans": 

All the world is full of Music, 

Let us sing our way through life. 

There’s a song for those who hear it. 

Bringing peace and ending strife. 

There is Music in the Sunshine 

We can shed — We take out stand 

And we vow, as Guides, 

That whate’er betides. 

We’ll be there to knd a hand. 

Refrain and Chorus:

Be prepared shall be our watchword. 

Let us sing it every day. 

Pressing forward, looking upward, 

Helping others on their way ; 

Be prepared for joy or sorrow. 

Always smiling, come what may. 

And the world shall see what Guides can be 

As we march along on life’s highway. 

Let the message dear come ringing : 

Onward! Upward! Let us prove 

That the song the Guides are singing 

Gives us courage, brings us love. 

All the world is full of Music, 

Let us make our lives a song, 

That wll make hearts beat. 

And will lift our feet 

As we bravely march along. 

Chorus. Be prepared, etc. 

In her memoir, Maud tells us:  “Hermann Darewski composed a marching tune to these words, most generously giving me the copyright and five thousand copies, which were sold for the Guide Funds.  (From “My First Sixty Years” by Maud Warrender (Cassell & Co. Ltd., London, 1933) pp. 128 and 129. 


Herman Darewski (17 April 1883 – 2 June 1947) was a British composer and conductor of light music.

Maud was also a founding member of the charity which, in her day, was known as the Musicians Benevolent Fund and is now called Help Musicians UK

The Poetry Society was founded in 1909 to promote “a more general recognition and appreciation of poetry”.

Dr Margaret Stetz is Mae and Robert Carter Professor of Women’s Studies and Professor of Women and Gender Studies at the University of Delaware in America.





Portrait of Lady Maud Warrender by American artist Violet Oakley (June 10, 1874 – February 25, 1961).

Lady Maud Warrender's WW1 Recrod card is from the British Red Cross WW1 website