Some of Lady Crewe's war-work

Our library recording project - in partnership with with The Arts Society East Surrey, and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund - is to record, clean and begin to repair our huge book collection.

The collection is wide-ranging and of course reflects the lives, tastes and experiences of the readers. Our latest item is a reminder that Lord Crewe and his family spent six years in Paris in the 1920s, when Lord Crewe was Ambassador.

Hilary Ely, lead volunteer, explains Lady Crewe's continuing interest in France and the French during the Second World War. 

Colonel Remy

In 1940, with the fall of France, General de Gaulle declared himself leader of the Free French, and called for fighters to join him in England. Lady Crewe was a notably active founder and patron of the French In Great Britain Fund, formed to welcome and support them. 

Two French books

One of the first to join de Gaulle was Gilbert Renault, who went on to co-ordinate audacious resistance campaigns in France throughout the war under various aliases, the most famous of which was Colonel Rémy. After the war he wrote his resistance memoirs in several volumes. He presented a set of them to Lady Crewe, with an inscription full of affection and gratitude. The handwriting was particularly challenging – it looks deceptively neat, but it took us quite a long time to decipher all the words, and enigmas remain.  It is obvious that Lady Crewe offered kindness and welcome to Rémy and his wife Edith – but where or what is Clewborough?  I think it is somewhere in the Camberley area, but have not yet nailed it down.  And what was it?  A house? A training establishment?  Another tale from the Library then is Lady Crewe’s notable support for the Free French, where it took her, and who she met. 


open book with inscription in French

Rémy was an acknowledged hero of the Resistance, but after the war turned into a problematic figure.  Controversially, in the late 40s he began to campaign for the rehabilitation of the Vichy regime.  He was ultra-conservative in politics, a catholic and a monarchist, fell out spectacularly with de Gaulle in the 50s over Algeria and other things, and went into exile in Salazar’s Portugal, later returning to France to live in retirement.



We know that Lady Crewe was honoured by the French in August 1946, and made a Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur.