Colin Christopher Paget Tennant,
1.XII.1926 - 27.VIII.2010
3rd Baron Glenconner
"King Of Mustique"
Mad Dogs & Englishman
And A Tennant Or Two
It is not unusual for the “first” families from the peerage of the United Kingdom, to be in the fore front when it comes to producing what we “the esoteric” lovingly call “eccentrics!”
Granted, they also are able to produce more solid upstanding members of what we reminiscently call the “ruling class!” Yet, it is to those irreverent rule breakers that we all tend to flock. Whether it is from sheer interest, shock, or envy from their uninhibited “ballsy” approach to life we are drawn forward into their sphere.
The Tennant family, seems to have had more than its fair share of these “exalted individuals” living off a perceived higher plain, eating lotus leaves, and pontificating poetry, social ideals, and downright “balmy behavior!”
Like a cast of characters from some long forgotten Noel Coward “society of manners” play, the Tennants have kept several generations of the English entertained or impressed with their antics.
Along with the “eccentrics”, the Tennant family to their credit has also given birth to other members that have gained distinction, through more productive channels. The Liberal politician Harold Tennant was a younger son of the first Baronet. Formidable grand dame extraordinaire, Margot Tennant, wife of Prime Minister H. H. Asquith, and one of the original “Souls” was the daughter of the first Baronet from his first marriage. Margot in turn was the mother of flamboyant movie legend and director, Anthony “Puffin” Asquith, although not a full Tennant, he was one by half and certainly favored his Tennant ancestors. At the height of the Profumo scandal, Asquith is widely believed to have been the 'man in the mask' at an orgy attended by Stephen Ward, Christine Keeler, Mandy Rice-Davies and a host of top establishment figures. The civil servant and politician Katharine Elliot, Baroness Elliot of Harwood, was the daughter of the first Baronet from his second marriage. Edward Wyndham Tennant, the handsome young aesthete war poet, who tragically lost his life in the carnage that was World War I, was the eldest son of the first Baron. The Hon. Stephen Tennant, lover of poet Siegfried Sassoon, who was a British aristocrat known for his decadent lifestyle was the fourth son of the first Baron. During the twenties and thirties, Stephan Tennant was an important member - the "Brightest", it is said - of the "Bright Young People." The author Emma Tennant is the daughter of the second Baron. The model Stella Tennant is the daughter of the Hon. Tobias William Tennant, younger son of the second Baron and also descended from the famous Mitford family.
For the last fifty some odd years, one Tennant in particular who has made a mark when it comes to “outdoing what has already been outdone” was the late Colin Tennant, 3rd Baron Glenconner, who’s death last week, has probably in all likelihood brought to a close the involvement of the Tennant family in the “boat rocker” sweepstakes.
Peer of the United Kingdom, entrepreneur, friend of royalty, gad about, and overall one of kind, the likes of which it is safe to say we will never see again, at least from the aristocratic cloth from which he was cut, Colin kept us entertained and from the sound of things, he might have the last word yet what with the anticipated publication of what will be his posthumously published autobiography!
His story reads below…………….
End Of The Party
For Princess's Playmate
As Lord Glenconner, 83, Dies In St Lucia
By Sharon Churcher and Elizabeth Sanderson
The Daily Mail
August 29th, 2010
Princess Margaret’s great friend and confidante Lord Glenconner has died on the Caribbean island of St Lucia. The former owner of Mustique passed away last Friday after saying he felt unwell. He was eighty-three years old.
Last night, Lord Glenconner’s wife, Lady Anne Coke, said her husband had been suffering from cancer. Speaking from her farmhouse in Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, Lady Anne said: “He had cancer for some time. I recently spent two weeks with him in St Lucia. I am going out as soon as I can with all the family. He is going to be buried in St Lucia. We are having the service there as he made his life in the West Indies. Later on we will have a memorial at his family home – The Glen in Peebles in Scotland.”
Father and son:
A smartly dressed Lord Glenconner stands with his son Henry Tennant
‘He was a great person. I feel very lucky to have been his wife. We were married nearly 55 years and there was never a dull moment. He was a very clever, exceptional person and I will miss him very much indeed.’
Born Colin Christopher Paget Tennant, the 3rd Baron Glenconner led the early life of a conventional aristocrat – Eton, followed by Oxford University and a stint in the Irish Guards. He then joined the family firm, C Tennant & Sons, once the largest chemical company in the world and the forerunner of ICI.
But in the mid-Fifties he was on a tour of the family estates in Trinidad when he heard that the island of Mustique, in the Grenadines, was for sale. He cabled his father, the 2nd Baron, requesting permission to buy it for £45,000.
In his last ever interview with The Mail on Sunday last December, he recalled: ‘My father cabled that it was OK to buy it if it had plenty of water. It had no fresh water but I bought it anyway. The Tennant in me loves a deal.’
Tennant’s family motto is Deus Dabit Vela – ‘God will fill the sails’. Mustique was then a rocky, mosquito-infested outcrop, three-and-a-half miles long, with no roads or electricity, but the aristocrat would turn it into one of the world’s most exclusive destinations.
Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Jemima Khan, Prince William and Bill Gates have owned homes or stayed on the island, but it was its association with Princess Margaret for which it became most famous.
Tennant had once been tipped as a suitor for the young Princess. Instead she married the society photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones and in 1960 they spent part of their honeymoon on Mustique.
Princess Margaret with Lord and Lady Glenconner,
eating macaroni cheese on Macaroni beach on the Island of Martinique
Lord Glenconner told The Mail on Sunday: ‘We gave the Princess and Tony a tour of the island on a tractor. I said: “Ma’am, would you like something from Asprey in a box as a wedding present, or perhaps you would like this piece of land?” She waved her arm and said: “Oh, the land!”
‘We didn’t see much of her after that until the marriage began to become unstuck. She rang one day in 1967 and said: “Does the offer include a house?” I said: “Yes, we will start work now.” She furnished it with things she saw at the Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition, all white Formica.’
The resulting house, Les Jolies Eaux, was the only home she ever owned and became a much loved retreat. It was on Mustique that the Princess carried out her affair with the young gardener Roddy Llewellyn, while Tennant’s extravagant costume parties became famous the world over.
On one louche evening in the Seventies on Macaroni Beach four naked men, smothered in oil and glistening under torchlight, carried Bianca Jagger on a throne draped in mosquito netting.
Lord Glenconner’s biographer, Nicholas Courtney, said: ‘He had this immense quality of making everything fun but he was also deeply caring of the local population and they admired him greatly, both in Mustique and St Lucia.’
Glenconner’s most famous protégé on Mustique is Basil Charles, the son of a fisherman whom he put in charge of a waterfront bar which they called Basil’s.
Last night, Basil said: ‘He made a lot of difference to my life. The people who called him a colonialist didn’t understand him. He was an eccentric, not a man who looked down on “colonials”. Sure, he bought Mustique, but to Colin, people were people. He was famous for shouting but that had nothing to do with race. He just liked to get his own way.”
‘If he didn’t like someone, no matter how rich or famous they were, he refused to pretend. This is the end of an era. Colin wasn’t just the founder of Mustique. He stamped his extraordinary personality on everything he did and everyone he met.’
Colin Tennant with his heroin addict son Charles,
who appeared in court on this day for drug charges
before dying in 1996 of Hepatitis C
Glenconner’s connection with Mustique ended acrimoniously in 1987 when, almost bankrupted by building the infrastructure of the island (including the airport), he sold his remaining share to other homeowners. A year later he walked away with just £1million, having sold his home, the Great House, to Christina Onassis’s third husband, former KGB agent Sergei Kauzov.
Tennant moved to St Lucia, investing £225,000 in an undeveloped 480-acre estate nestling between the island’s two extinct volcanoes, The Pitons. He sold half the land to developers, who built the Jalousie Plantation resort and spa while he kept the remainder. He also opened a restaurant, Bang Between The Pitons.
Glenconner spent most of his time there while his wife, whom he married in 1956, divided her time between the West Indies and her family estate, Holkham Hall in Norfolk.
The couple had five children but their two eldest sons died tragically young – Charles of hepatitis C after a period as a heroin addict, and Henry of AIDS. A third son, Christopher, was left seriously disabled after a teenage motorcycle accident in Belize. Their twin daughters Amy and May are now thirty-nine.
In January, Lord Glenconner discovered he had a secret son, 54-year-old psychotherapist Joshua Bowler. Joshua’s mother, Henrietta Moraes, had a fling with Tennant after meeting him at a party in 1954. Joshua has been welcomed into the family but the new Lord Glenconner is Charles’s son, Cody Tennant, sixteen.
Last night Cody paid tribute to his grandfather. Speaking from the Edinburgh townhouse he shares with his mother Sheilagh, he said: ‘I last saw my grandfather last summer in St Lucia. I had a sad feeling that I wouldn’t see him again. He was a wonderful man. It’s very sad, but quite a rush to think I will be going back to school as the next Lord Glenconner.’
One of the aristocrat’s last acts was to put up the capital for his long-time valet, Kent, to build a boutique hotel on St Lucia.
Nicholas Courtney said: ‘He was active right until the end, embarking on new ventures. I was ghosting his autobiography and he was just waiting to hear on a new land deal.’ However, his health was failing.
Last night a friend in St Lucia said: ‘On Friday Lord Glenconner told Kent he was feeling unwell and asked for medication. Kent called an ambulance but before it could arrive his situation became worse and he had to be taken to hospital in a vehicle driven by his assistant. He has pronounced dead on arrival.’
Glenconner’s assistant, Febornia Williams, said she and Kent were with the aristocrat when he collapsed. ‘We tried to make him as comfortable as possible. He will be missed so much.’
The funeral will be in St Lucia next Saturday, although in recent months Tennant’s thoughts had turned once again to Mustique.
Relations had improved with The Mustique Company and two months ago he quietly visited the island. Bizarrely, on Friday, the home owners had decided they wanted to present him with some land and build a home for him.
‘There’s now a discussion about whether he should be buried on Mustique,’ said a close family friend. ‘After all, whatever may have happened in the past, this was his home. Mustique wouldn’t be Mustique if it wasn’t for Colin.’
How Did Colin Make You Laugh
Even If You Didn't Want To?
It Was His Spirit!
By Emma Tennant, Novelist
How do you write about someone you have loved, someone you thought would always be there, only to find he has gone, as transparent and tantalizing as air?
Will there really be no more shared jokes – some quite wicked, it’s true. I remember the song about an elderly relative we were corralled into visiting and I blush at the fun we had at the expense of Dame Peggy or Lady K (all female members of the family were as worthy as can be.)
What was it in Colin that made you laugh even if you didn’t want to? It was his spirit, I suppose. You could see him enjoy a joke before he’d even thought of it. And you would start laughing out of the pure exuberance of his company.
Colin with Emma in the fifties, when he first met Margaret
The words ‘Colin is coming,’ whether said by a guest at our childhood home The Glen, or a hopeful child, brought a wonderful sense of expectation, a kind of naughtiness which took its cue from childhood. Colin was one of us.
It was especially sad that he should go at this time. He had not quite completed work on a project he believed in so passionately – the Glenconner Village in St Lucia. He had designed it and won planning permission. He had so fervently looked forward to spending time there.
There was a true sense of fun hanging over the pretty painted houses by the shining sea, built for tourists and locals alike.
He had named it in memory of the early days of the family. Glenconner was the name of the farmers in Ayrshire who brought their ambition and hard work to play in the Scottish Borders.
‘I hope to see it finished,’ Colin said a few weeks back, and perhaps, if we’d noticed the elegiac tone of voice, we’d have sensed the nearness of an ending.
But Colin, even if unhappy, was keen that no one should be left out of the fun. If he was happy, everyone was happy. There was simply no question of pleading illness or depression, and in general it worked.
For Colin was, above all, brave. His courage led him to push through all kinds of plans likely to improve the lives of villagers on Mustique and St Lucia.
Those who disapproved or wanted a larger share for themselves were firmly turned down or sent away.
Colin had a quick temper and didn’t like to be taken advantage of, or told what to do. The sight of him in transparent white gown, straw hat and elegant cane, could send people running for cover.
Most at risk were film-makers or journalists in eager pursuit of a story that would expose Colin in some way as an arrogant fool.
Yet anyone who knew him loved him – none more than his children. When his sons Charlie and Henry died tragically, Colin comforted their bereaved partners and said how fortunate he felt to have them in his life.
Their presence gave him the solace that comes with understanding the lives of those who might otherwise have not known him. Colin was their friend and helper.
The sudden arrival of Princess Margaret into our lives in the Fifties brought unfriendly reactions from some of the family.
It was thought that we’d never find any privacy again, and worst of all, if an engagement was announced between the Princess and Colin, then Colin was likely to become a pompous bore and all our fun and games would be over.
That this didn’t happen we might have guessed. Colin remained as irrepressibly funny and unimpressed by people who thought highly of themselves, as he had ever been. Princess Margaret, as is well known, could be offensively sure of her superior status.
But Colin never allowed the pretensions of others to overcome a desire to please, by being simply himself. I see the grand mock castle of The Glen, the family house in the Borders where I spent the school holidays and waited for Colin to come.
It was like a magic charm to see the hills and the heather, transformed by the laughter of Colin and his friends. And I hope I’ll be there to greet him again one day when the time comes.
There were so many aspects to Colin – the painterly eye, and the love of architecture and landscape.
‘Shall I sign my name as Tennant?’ asked Joshua, Colin’s recently discovered son, on his first visit to Glen. ‘Sign what you feel like!’ Colin replied – and everyone burst out laughing. How like Colin, someone said. And we all agreed . . . and Colin laughed, too. Even as I write this, I burst out laughing. Colin will never be far away.
Will Princess Margaret's Louche Confidant
Betray Her Most intimate Secrets
From Beyond The Grave?
By GLENYS ROBERTS
The Daily Mail
He was the last of an old-fashioned breed: titled, moneyed, eccentric, the best friend of the wayward Princess Margaret and the founder of up market tourism to the Caribbean.
Now, only a couple of months after he welcomed, with typical élan, his unknown illegitimate son into his family with a huge party at his Scottish baronial castle, Lord Glenconner has died aged eighty-three, back in the West Indies which have been his home for forty years.
Hyperactive and indiscreet to the end, he spent the past few months writing his memoirs. He discussed them with me during his last months and he said they have enough hair-rising anecdotes about the Royal Family to have Buckingham Palace on tenterhooks.
While preparing his autobiography, he told me: ‘They were horrible to Margaret at Balmoral and horrible to the children. And when she got ill, all they said was: “Pull yourself together!” The Queen Mother was the worst of the lot!’
Now, his book will be published posthumously and will reveal what company the Royal Family’s black sheep, Princess Margaret, kept on the jet set island of Mustique, Glenconner’s most famous creation.
‘Mustique was an invention — like Treasure Island,’ he once said.
Having dated the Princess himself and being once tipped to marry her, he turned instead into her playmate and long- standing confidant. He famously gave her a piece of the island when she was on her honeymoon cruise with Lord Snowdon and the house she built there, Les Jolies Eaux, was her favorite idyll.
But from the start there was vitriol between Glenconner and Snowdon, who called him ‘that sh*t’. Glenconner, in turn, had disapproved of Margaret marrying the commoner Antony Armstrong-Jones, and once when Princess Margaret’s future husband visited the peer’s London home, Glenconner made him use the servants’ entrance.
The wedding gift had been for Margaret alone — ‘Odd, don’t you think?’ remarked Snowdon, who spent only one night on Mustique, referring to it as ‘Mustake’.
But it was on the island that, after her divorce, Margaret entertained her toy boy lover Roddy Llewellyn, a humble landscape gardener who has now inherited his brother Dai’s baronetcy.
Glenconner’s castle Glen, an hour’s drive south of Edinburgh, also became a safe house where the unlikely couple was able to spend weekends together away from prying eyes.
For a long time the Princess’s emotional happiness became the family business. While the restless Glenconner entertained her with costume parties, charades and a supply of Scotch whisky, his elegant wife Lady Anne acted as her lady-in-waiting.
Recalling his friendship recently, he said: ‘Princess Margaret was free with us. She used to love singing. She loved playing the piano.’
Heir to a fortune and a stately pile conveniently close to the Royal Family’s Balmoral, Glenconner had the traditional gentleman’s upbringing of Eton, Oxford and the Guards. As a young man he was a debs’ delight, a great dancer and founder member of the hedonistic group of aristocrats who attached themselves to the Queen’s pleasure-seeking sister in the Fifties.
Glenconner inherited a job as well as money. His Glaswegian antecedents had invented a cotton bleaching process that revolutionized the treatment of the textile and had cotton-growing estates to go with it.
It was while he was supposed to be looking after the family’s West Indian holdings in Trinidad that he bought the mosquito-infested island of Mustique and turned it, improbably, into a playground for the likes of Mick Jagger and the Queen’s photographer cousin Patrick Lichfield.
Immensely vain with a childlike need to shock, as I saw firsthand on numerous occasions, Colin Tennant (his name before inheriting his title) was never going to nurture the family fortune wisely. He adored life, he loved being the centre of attention and he was easily bored. The perfect recipe for a life of dissipation.
And so, night after night, there were parties on the beach and in the celebrated Basil’s Bar where Glenconner’s royal connections happily rubbed shoulders with competitive drinkers, dynamic upstarts, scantily-clad women and jovial locals. All boasted afterwards of legendary shenanigans.
One underworld character — the late John Bindon — was said to have entertained the delighted Princess Margaret with his particular party trick, which consisted of balancing an empty upside-down beer mug on a certain part of his anatomy.
Glenconner facilitated all this and reigned over this court of jesters as king of the island, often wearing his trademark fancy dress crown. Most days, he was to be seen skipping along the beach in a white pajama suit made from his own island cotton.
"King Of Mustique"
For Mustique’s fortieth birthday party (Dress: ‘Silver and White’) 260 guests flew in, including Prince William and Kate Middleton, the fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, socialite Jemima Khan, various Guinnesses and tycoons.
Another louche beach party involved four naked men, smothered in oil and glistening under torchlight, carrying Bianca Jagger on a throne draped in mosquito netting. The plan was for Glenconner to slash at the netting with a machete to reveal Bianca — except the blade wasn’t sharp enough and Glenconner ended up sprawled in the netting.
Such extravagant behavior took its toll and he was finally removed from the consortium that took over Mustique by more sober business minds.
Undaunted, he simply moved to the next island, St Lucia, where his eccentricities were allowed free rein.
He attracted Middle Eastern money and built a huge new tourist complex filled with elegant hand-turned furniture made by Margaret’s son, David Linley.
At one stage he imported an Indian elephant called Bupa as a pet. At the docks, waiting for her arrival, he met a local lad whom he hired to look after the animal and who, after the unfortunate creature died of food poisoning, became Glenconner’s loyal manservant, travelling all over the world with him.
Since 1980, the maverick peer resided more or less full time in the Caribbean — ‘since we discovered it was cheaper to live in St Lucia than to heat the castle at Glen in Scotland’ he told me.
In his white hat, to cover his thinning hair, and Indian-style clothes, he became an eccentric tourist attraction and could usually be found holding court at a restaurant he created called Bang Between The Pitons. He still loved to party and once a week held what the locals call a ‘jump-up’, at which vast quantities of jerk chicken and rum were consumed.
Having run through several fortunes — an estimated total sum of £100 million of inherited money — he lived simply in one of the local shacks and, improbable as it seemed, had been desperate to entice the ailing Princess Margaret to leave Britain and live in a similarly humble one next door.
She was such a fixture in his life that he lost his bearings after she died. Despite the fun and partying, he was forced to look back on terrible sorrows in his private life. Two sons died — one of a heroin overdose, one of Aids — and his third was left brain-damaged after a motor-cycle accident.
So the discovery earlier this year, following a DNA test, that he had fathered another son — illegitimately born when he was a young man to bohemian model Henrietta Moraes (who posed for the artists Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon), whom he had bedded just before he married Anne — was greeted with real pleasure. The inveterate bon viveur celebrated the discovery with what proved to be a wonderful family get-together in June at Glen to which Tennants aged from eighty to eighteen months old were invited.
Glenconner reigned over this court of jesters as king of the island, often wearing a fancy dress crown. Most days, he was to be seen skipping along the beach in a white pajama suit made from his own island cotton.
As the only non-family guest, I saw quite a different Glenconner from the tetchy, brittle person I had often met in the Caribbean.
Yet in his tracksuit and straw hat, he was no less eccentric. ‘Human bone set by Bond Street jeweler Bulgari’ was how he described the necklace he was wearing, flashing me his particularly wicked smile.
His beaming new-found illegitimate son Joshua Bowler, who is a London psychotherapist, seemed to bring out the best in the old curmudgeon.
Philosophical about events, he confided: ‘In the old days, you had “an heir and a spare” and it was up to you what you did after that. No one ever talked about it — they were all brought up within the family. In any case, before the days of DNA, no one could know for sure.”
‘Terrible things used to happen. People used to put practiced seducers next to young virgins at house parties. My grandfather’s youngest sons were certainly not his own.’
Indeed, it serendipitously emerged that Joshua and Glenconner’s doomed heir Charlie had been at school together and Charlie had once unknowingly invited Joshua to the family’s Scottish retreat for a New Year’s Eve weekend.
Not realizing he was his own son, Glenconner had warmed to the young man and unsuccessfully offered him a job in Mustique.
There is no doubt that the often troubled Glenconner died a happier man because of this recent family addition, which seemed to offer everyone a new chance.
But then Glenconner was already suffering from prostate cancer and was undergoing treatment in London. It was at this point that he realized he needed to get going on his controversial autobiography.
Then on Friday, he fell ill. His long-time elephant-trainer-cum-manservant called an ambulance, but there was nothing to be done to help him. Choiseul, the little St Lucian village which Glenconner was hoping to put on the map with another luxury project, will now be remembered as the site of his grave.
Glenconner will be buried there this Saturday with family and friends in attendance and — despite his moods and even sometimes his malice — the world will be a lot less amusing without him.
But the Queen will surely not be amused by his explosive memoirs if they contain the truth about his views of Princess Margaret.
If the royals thought they’d heard the last of Lord Glenconner and of this libertine’s outrageously indiscreet stories, they are soon to be proved horribly wrong.
The Lord Of Pleasure Island
Breaks His Silence In
An indiscreet And Revealing Interview
By Sharon Churcher
The Daily Mail
December 27, 2009
For decades Mustique has been a private retreat where Royals and celebrities removed their clothes – and their inhibitions. Its owner, Lord Glenconner, has remained tight lipped about its secrets - until now . . .
Snapped on a long-ago December day on a Mustique beach, the plumpish woman in the faded photographs could be any holidaymaker nursing a hangover on the morning after a very long night before.
Princess Margaret slouches in a deckchair, chain-smoking in the sticky heat of a tropical noon as she contemplates a bottle of gin on a table littered with empties.
Finally, she pulls herself to her feet and, tugging a generously cut kaftan over her whale-boned bathing costume, wanly displays her new hairdo.
Her brunette curls have been chopped off, for ease of care during her stay at the villa she owns in this Caribbean Shangri-la, and she has abandoned her attempts to revive them with setting lotion.
It might seem astonishing that a senior Royal would allow such candid pictures. But there was no risk that they would be seen by anyone outside her tightly knit set, or so she assured herself.
They were privately commissioned by one of her closest friends, the owner of Mustique, Colin Christopher Paget Tennant, the 3rd Baron Glenconner, who for 50 years has been the fiercely protective keeper of the secrets of the exclusive isle.
Rumors leaked out of decadent revels on the three-and-a-half-mile-square jewel of the archipelago of St Vincent and the Grenadines. Boys wearing little except coconut oil were said to have entertained guests at one party.
The carefree atmosphere nurtured two unconventional Royal romances – Margaret’s with society gardener Roddy Llewellyn and Zara Phillips’s with jockey Richard Johnson – and Prince William and Kate Middleton are expected next year.
But under the strict rules Glenconner instituted after buying the island in 1958, the rumors have remained just that. The only airport is owned by the island’s management company, which discreetly screens all arriving passengers.
Paparazzi and gossip writers are put on the next flight out if they show up at the picturesquely thatched terminal. Shortly before Christmas, however, the Baron called The Mail on Sunday to say that he has reluctantly decided to break his code of silence.
He has become increasingly incensed by the speculation about Princess Margaret’s years on the island.
Far from being a selfish hedonist, as she has been portrayed in recent books and a sensational Channel 4 docudrama, he says she retreated there to attempt to mend her broken heart after her marriage to Lord Snowdon began to disintegrate.
To set the record straight, he is planning to publish a volume of memoirs called I Told You So.
He has timed his startling announcement of the book to coincide with a ceremony on the island today at which a statue of him is being unveiled by the island’s ‘householders’, as villa owners such as Mick Jagger, Tommy Hilfiger, Shania Twain, Bryan Adams, Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward and publisher Felix Dennis are called.
They will welcome the book, he insisted when I met him on the island, since by the standards of younger celebrities – ‘the Britney Spears generation’ – their behavior is rather staid.
‘In an age when everything about well-known people is public, Mustique is a place where they can behave naturally,’ he says. ‘My wife has said I created the atmosphere of a continuous house party. We never behaved badly.”
'We drank but there were no drugs. We were sometimes a little naughty, I suppose. At one early party, the young entertainers from the village didn’t have anything on and one of the ladies said, “Why are all those men wearing sporrans?” But when Princess Margaret was present, there were limits.’
The pictures of Margaret on the beach were taken during a week-long celebration in December 1976 of his 50th birthday. The highlight was the Golden Ball, a torchlight dance at which village youths formed an honor guard.
‘Out of respect for the Princess, they wore codpieces,’ he qualifies carefully. ‘I made them out of coconut shells and painted them gold.’
The young Glenconner was inspecting family estates in Trinidad when he heard Mustique was for sale. In its heyday, the island had thriving sugar plantations, but now wild cattle and sheep roamed largely abandoned fields.
He cabled his father, the 2nd Baron, requesting permission to buy it for £45,000.
Christopher Tennant, 2nd Baron Glenconner
‘It was 1,400 acres, the size of an estate in Gloucestershire,’ he says, ‘but the upkeep would be a lot less because the beaches did not require maintenance.
‘My father cabled that it was OK to buy it if it had plenty of water. It had no fresh water, but I bought it anyway. The Tennant in me loves a deal,’ he adds, referring to his enterprising ancestors.
His wife, Lady Anne, exclaimed ‘You must be mad!’ when he tried to persuade her that wintering there would be cheaper than heating the castle on 9,000-acres in Peebleshire which is his family seat.
She is the daughter of the 5th Earl of Leicester and grew up in the stately splendor of Norfolk’s Holkham Hall, where the young Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were her playmates.
Glenconner’s own connections to royalty are more oblique. His great-great- great-grandfather, Charles Tennant, patented the formula for bleach in 1799. ‘From 1820 to 1920 we owned the largest chemical company in the world – United Alkali.’
Glenconner’s grandfather was elevated to the peerage and his father enthralled the Queen Mother-to-be, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyons. They were on the point of becoming engaged, Glenconner says, and he had even bought a ring when she stopped receiving him.
‘One explanation is that Chips Channon [the Tory MP and society diarist] said my father had had an affair with someone called Peta, whom she mistook to be a man called Peter,’ Glenconner says.
‘But I rather think she had a bigger sturgeon to fry,’ he continues. Soon afterwards she accepted the hand in marriage of the future George VI.
The Queen Mother was intrigued, however, to see how her former suitor’s son had turned out, and invited the young Glenconner to Sandringham, where he formed an instant bond with Margaret. They had much in common and there were predictions they would marry.
‘When I met Margaret she was looked on as the dark side of the Royal Family, hanging out at nightclubs,’ he says.
She invited him to Balmoral but did not have romantic designs on him.
‘She would go out riding with the Queen in the morning and there was nothing for me to do. I wasn’t her type. If you look at the men in her life – Peter Townsend, Lord Snowdon and Roddy Llewellyn – you can see that.’
There have recently been claims that Snowdon and Llewellyn were bisexual. Glenconner refuses to be drawn on the subject, but says bluntly that it was Snowdon’s ‘rotten’ treatment of Margaret that led to her finding solace in an extra-marital affair and Mustique.
Margaret first met the former Tony Armstrong-Jones at Glenconner’s wedding. Society photographer Armstrong-Jones was hired to take pictures, Princess Margaret was a guest.
Four years later, Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon visited Mustique on their honeymoon, where the Glenconners lived in a bungalow with no electricity or running water. We gave the Princess and Tony a tour of the island on a tractor,’ he says.
‘They were whacking mosquitoes. We drove through the bush to a beautiful headland. I said, “Ma’am, would you like something from Asprey in a box as a wedding present, or perhaps you would both like this piece of land?’’ She waved her arm and said, “Oh, the land!’’
‘We didn’t see much of her after that until the marriage began to become unstuck. She rang one day in 1967 and said, “Oh, that present you said we could have in Mustique? Was it for real?’’ And I immediately said, “Yes.’’ And she said, “Does the offer include a house?’’ I said, “Yes, we will start work now on one.’’’
He adds: “She said her marriage had broken down and she’d had enough.” I can’t say I was surprised. They didn’t come from the same kind of background or have the same interests, but Tony is a tremendously successful seducer.
‘He plays with people. He draws them in, then turns against them.” His fascination with the Princess hadn’t lasted more than a year or two. After that there were rumors of cruelty. I had them to lunch once in the country, and he was very rude to her.
‘When she came here, she left everything behind – her former life and clothes and even her hairdo.’ Glenconner hired the theatrical set designer Oliver Messel to design the Princess’s villa. ‘But she refused my offer to have Oliver do the interior,’ he says.
‘She did the whole house in furniture she saw at the Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition, all white Formica.” Oliver was so disappointed but she said, “This is my house.’’
“It really was the only house she ever owned. She always had the same menu at dinner parties. Shrimp cocktail with a sauce made from mayonnaise and ketchup followed by lamb or chicken, terribly badly cooked.”
The Princess’s life on Mustique may not have been elegant but it was nevertheless perfect from Glenconner’s point of view. He had netted a windfall of £1million from the sale of a business his family owned in the City and invested it in developing Mustiqueas a winter resort where he would invite the rich and famous to buy land.
Surely they would not be able to resist rubbing shoulders with a Royal? The island is part of the nation of St Vincent and the Grenadines, but he talked its government into giving tax-free status to foreign property owners.
‘This is an extraordinary benefit,’ he says. ‘Owners can get £75,000 a week if they let their villas at Christmas.’
A Texan beauty was one of the first arrivals. She had considerable funds following her divorce from a brewery heir and she ploughed them into building an upside-down house on a cliff.
The drawing room was on the top floor and its downstairs master suite was reached by an outside stairway reputedly designed to permit discreet visits by gentleman callers.
The house is now an up market inn, the Firefly, where then 19-year-old Zara Phillips and 22-year-old Richard Johnson booked the downstairs quarters in 2000. Other grateful beneficiaries of its eccentric layout are said to have included Mick Jagger and his ‘Cracker from Caracas’, Venezuelan heiress Vanessa Neumann.
‘Vanessa was staying downstairs and if you were sitting in the bar, you could see Mick’s head bobbing past the window on his way to visit her,’ a Firefly regular told me.
The island’s other hotel is the Cotton House, a converted 18th Century warehouse. It was originally owned by Glenconner. I remark on the unusual number of doors from its Great Room. ‘So people could slip away without being noticed,’ he chuckles.
‘In the early days practically everyone was divorced and with a new partner or looking for one.’
Glenconner is wearing his customary outfit, an Indian-style white sutra suit. It is monogrammed with a large G and a crimson baron’s coronet, making him instantly recognizable to residents on the beach.
He suddenly stops and does a belly flop, landing on his stomach on the sand. Propping himself up on his elbows, he confides that he liked to assume this deceptively relaxed-looking posture at picnics for prospective property buyers.
‘We’d drink chilled white wine, served from a portable paraffin fridge, and I might sing songs. Then I would undress and plunge into the sea. People are much more ready to talk business when they have their clothes off. They’d be swept up in the whole idea of living on Mustique and that was when I’d sell them land. They felt really liberated.’
Princess Margaret was introduced to Roddy Llewellyn at a party at Glenconner’s Scottish estate in 1973. At first glance, he was hardly suitable. He was the grandson of a minor baronet and 17 years younger than the Princess.
But Glenconner says his admiration for her was warm and genuine. ‘We were playing gin rummy and Roddy was keeping score,’ he says. ‘The Princess grabbed the card from him. He’d written, “You’re looking very pretty today.’’
She was very bruised by her marriage and Roddy was kind to her. But he was never anyone she could have married. In those days he was a hippy. He wanted to be a pop star but his voice was too thin and he made the most awful jokes.
He did the garden at the villa. His relationship with Margaret changed. When they arrived here, they were lovers but it became that of a mother and son.
A Channel 4 docudrama has suggested that she subsequently began an affair with raffish actor and gangland criminal John Bindon, who entertained her with obscene party tricks.
She would purportedly ring him late at night to summon him to her villa. ‘That is absurd,’ Glenconner says angrily. ‘The island’s phone operator, Cynthia, was living at the time with Basil Charles, my barman, and they had two children. She closed the switchboard at 5pm and didn’t open until 8am. The Princess couldn’t have called anyone.’
He concedes that the Queen did worry about how Margaret was surviving. ‘I am sure some people still thought there were cannibals on Mustique,’ he says. ‘The Queen and Prince Philip came here twice to see how she was getting on. The first time, the Prince went swimming while the Queen lay on the beach and sunbathed. The second time, in her Jubilee year, I gave a banquet for her.’
Basil – the gregarious son of a West Indian fisherman – waltzed at the function with his new girlfriend, a British Viscountess and former Deb of the Year, Virginia Royston. They went on to live together for nine years.
He now owns Basil’s Bar, a thriving pub on the Mustique waterfront where William and Kate can be found belting out Elvis songs on karaoke nights.
‘Basil is richer by far than me now,’ says Glenconner.
William and Kate first visited the island in 2006, when they stayed at a villa owned by John Robinson, founder of the Jigsaw fashion chain. The going rent at the time was £8,000 a week but the tycoon loaned it after being told the Prince was worried the cost was beyond his reach.
The couple played energetic games of volleyball on the sands and took on local villagers in a frisbee match. During one afternoon on the beach, Kate clambered on to the Prince’s shoulders. ‘You really could see they were in love,’ an islander says.
William also played tennis with Sir Richard Branson and was treated to a cruise on his catamaran. At Basil’s Bar, a staffer says: ‘We always had the Prince’s “poison” ready for him – vodka and cranberry juice. Kate would usually have a pina colada, flavored with Sunset Premium rum.’
They couple have made several other visits, including in 2008, when they hired the Firefly’s speedboat.
Glenconner ruefully admits that he dissipated most of his fortune on Mustique. He built a mansion for himself, the Great House, inspired by a Mogul palace. By that time Anne was a Lady-in-Waiting to Princess Margaret and they were often travelling. Glenconner amused himself with back-to-back entertainments.
‘We liked to be spontaneous,’ he says. ‘We had one tableau where I told everyone an exotic lady from the East was arriving. She was carried in on a litter, hidden under a mosquito net. I slashed the muslin with a machete and Bianca Jagger emerged.’
Meanwhile, he paid for the island’s airport, the roads, a water collection plant and housing for workers and their families. ‘I sold the land for very little – about £2.50 a square foot,’ he says.
‘When I tried to introduce service charges, some people refused to pay and it all became very tiresome. I had to borrow money and sell my Lucian Freuds, including my own portrait.’
The financial pressure finally forced him to sell his remaining shares in the management company over ten years to the householders for the same £1million he originally put in.
‘It was cruel,’ he says. ‘If I had just invested the original cash it would have been worth 100 times that.’ A year later, he sold the Great House to Christina Onassis’s third husband, former Soviet shipbroker and ex-KGB agent Sergei Kauzov. It is now owned by Lawrence Stroll, a Canadian garment manufacturer.
In 1999, Glenconner hosted his last party on Mustique, a luncheon in a tented pavilion. He decorated it with erotic wall hangings from the Kama Sutra and Princess Margaret was the guest of honor.
He was clearly delighted, however, when he was invited to today’s statue-unveiling ceremony. The work is by the Queen’s sculptor, Philip Jackson, and is being unveiled by Princess Josephine Loewenstein, wife of the Rolling Stones money manager Prince Rupert.
I accompanied Glenconner to the hilltop where the 13.5ft bronze monument is mounted on a plinth. ‘You need to take two or three trees down,’ he instructed a multi-millionaire businessman who was finalizing the preparations.
‘There has to be room for people to stand and take photographs. And I want to be gazing out to sea,’ he added.
Once the trees are taken down, visitors will be able to glimpse the distant peaks St Lucia, where Glenconner is developing a brand-new tourism project, The White House at Choiseul, a boutique hotel-restaurant that will be owned and managed by his valet and personal assistant of the past 26 years, Kent Adonai, 45.
Kent has been a favorite with various attractive women, by whom he has sired several children. He is reminiscent in short, of the younger Basil, Glenconner says.
‘I wanted to do something nice for him. Anne and I will have a flat upstairs. It will be different.’
Glenconner knows that is what will make it successful.
August 30, 2010
The 3rd Lord Glenconner, formerly Colin Tennant, who died on August 27 aged eighty-three, transformed the West Indian island of Mustique from a barren insect-plagued rock into a lush multimillionaires' paradise.
The island became famous during the 1960s and 1970s for Tennant's grand parties and for the roll-call of pop stars, aristocrats and royalty – most famously Princess Margaret – who found it a refuge from the British winter and the paparazzi.
The Tennant family owed their fortune to Colin Tennant's great-great-grandfather Charles Tennant, a Scottish scientist who invented an industrial bleaching process which revolutionized the cotton industry and brought the industrial revolution to Scotland.
Sir Charles Tennant, 1st Bart
The "Great Bart"
As business prospered, the Tennants bought estates and built grand houses, including, in 1850, a gloomy neo-gothic castle in Peeblesshire, the Glen, which became the family seat. By the early 20th century the Tennants had not only amassed a huge fortune, they had also established family connections with the Asquiths, Wyndhams and Lyttletons. Edward Priaulx Tennant was created the 1st Lord Glenconner in 1911.
Colin Tennant acquired Mustique in 1959 with money from the sale of a piece of land in Trinidad that had been acquired in the mid-19th century by another Charles Tennant, second son of the scientist, a youthful banner-carrier for the Chartists who became a successful businessman. His one business mistake had been to sell off the Trinidad pitch lake, failing to foresee the coming of Tarmac; the remaining acres yielded grapefruit.
Until Colin Tennant arrived in Mustique, the Grenadine Island had been a neglected backwater of Empire. The two resident white families had visited each other in carts, Gone with the Wind-style, for centuries. There were no modern conveniences – even a camera was a novelty – and the journey to Mustique from England took three days. "It was like a graveyard," said Tennant, "run down and badly managed – very moldy."
At first Tennant bought the island simply because he liked the beaches and thought it would be a pleasant place to retire. He intended, he said, to specialize in "sea island cotton, beef and mutton". However, he soon had other ideas.
In 1963 his father sold the family merchanting business, C Tennant & Sons, to Consolidated Goldfields, and Colin suddenly inherited £1 million. At first father and son were kept on as chairman and deputy chairman, but after his father's retirement in 1967 Colin was passed over for the job of chairman, so he resigned.
With money and time on his hands, Tennant worked at establishing Mustique and providing the island with an infrastructure. First he built a village, then a hotel and then constructed and sold "fantasy" houses, designed in a variety of architectural styles. A school was built, then a doctor's surgery. A police station, custom house and post office followed.
The island's popularity was assured when, during Princess Margaret's honeymoon visit to Mustique in 1960, Tennant gave her a piece of land as a wedding present. Later he built her a Georgian-style colonial villa, Les Jolies Eaux. It was there that she went to find refuge during the break-up of her marriage in the early 1970s, often in the company of her friend Roddy Llewellyn. Mustique was, she said, "the only place I can relax".
In Princess Margaret's wake came the rich, the chic, the famous – and their hangers-on. There were rock stars (Mick Jagger, Bryan Ferry, David Bowie), media folk (John Cleese, David Frost, Nigel Dempster) and socialites.
Tennant's hospitality and lavish fancy dress parties became celebrated. At his 50th birthday in 1976 Princess Margaret crowned him "King" of Mustique, while during the celebrations village youths formed an honor guard wearing gold-painted codpieces made from coconut shells. For his 60th birthday he took his guests 100 miles by boat from Mustique to neighboring St Lucia. "I've always found that people envy you less if they get things for free," he observed.
To Colin Tennant, the role of monarch of Mustique was more than a party joke. Like his grand Liberal forebears he took his patrician responsibilities seriously: on his arrival in Mustique, for example, he awarded pensions to all the island's grandmothers.
In the late 1970s, however, things began to go wrong. Recession and exchange controls turned profit into loss. In 1978 he sold 13 paintings by Lucian Freud from a substantial collection built up during the 1950s and 1960s, terminating a long-standing friendship. Freud regarded the sale as a financially motivated act of personal betrayal.
Worse, Tennant's subjects grew restive. Muddles about service charges and a cavalier attitude to accounting led to rows with the island's management committee. Tennant eventually sold his interest in Mustique for £1 million – the total of his original investment. He sold his own home, the Great House, to Christina Onassis's third husband, the former KGB agent Sergei Kauzov.
"You should never sell to the rich," Tennant once remarked. "They always make sure they get the best value. The owners and bankers made all the money, not me. I got a lot of publicity, but it got me nowhere. Even my barman ended up a millionaire."
Meanwhile he decided to buy land in St Lucia, to which he moved in 1992 with his pet elephant, Bupa. His second attempt at empire building, however, was not successful. He fell out with St Lucia's most famous son, the Nobel Prize-winning author Derek Walcott, who objected to his plans to build a huge hotel complex – La Jalousie – on a sacred site.
In 1992 he had to sell his £6 million London home to help raise funds. Another Freud – a portrait of Tennant himself – went under the auctioneer's hammer in 1997. Meanwhile, he quarreled with his Iranian partners in the investment, who bought him out.
By the mid-1990s Glenconner (he had inherited the title on his father's death in 1983) was living a somewhat more reclusive existence in a small beachside house, with only a remote chicken restaurant, a rum hut and a lot of empty land. At the end of his life, however, he was much involved in the construction of an up market beachfront village in St Lucia, and was planning a boutique hotel to be owned and run by his long-serving valet and personal assistant, Kent Adonai.
Even in his heyday there was always pathos behind the frivolity. Some detected the emotional insecurity that lay behind his need to be liked. And though usually urbane and good-humored, he was prone to mercurial changes of mood – courteous one moment, in a temper tantrum the next.
His relationship with his wife, Lady Anne Coke (daughter of the Earl of Leicester), whom he married in 1956, was happy, although they lived apart for much of the time. After his move to Mustique, they holidayed together regularly – winter in the Caribbean, summer in Scotland – but for most of the year led separate lives. She preferred to live in England, where she was Lady-in-Waiting to Princess Margaret, he in Mustique.
Family tragedy – Glenconner rejected all talk of a family curse – struck in various forms; their first son, Charlie, a one-time heroin addict, died of hepatitis in 1996. Their second son, Henry, died of Aids in 1990. Their third and youngest son, Christopher, was disabled following a motorcycle accident in 1987.
Despite everything, Glenconner continued to throw parties. "We weren't brought up to throw in the towel," he said. "We were brought up to bite bullets and to fold towels neatly."
Colin Christopher Paget Tennant was born on December 1 1926, the son of the 2nd Lord Glenconner. His mother, Pamela, was the daughter of Sir Richard Paget, 2nd Bt.
Pamela Winifred Paget
After his parents' divorced in 1935, for years Colin Tennant seldom saw his father. Holidays from Eton were spent with his maternal grandmother, Muriel Paget, a formidable grande dame who had diverted a train from the Crimea to Siberia in the First World War to save the lives of seventy British nannies.
After Eton, Tennant went straight into the Irish Guards, serving during the tail end of the war. After the war he went up to New College, Oxford: "I read diplomatic history from 1898 to 1904. It was not very helpful." At Oxford he gained a reputation for being terribly kind to plain girls with nice manners and extremely waspish to pretty ones with nasty manners.
After graduating, he settled down to work in the family firm in the City and at the same time began to attract the attention of the gossip columns as Princess Margaret's escort.
During the early 1950s he was often involved in amateur dramatics; in 1953 he took part, with Princess Margaret, in a production for charity of an Edgar Wallace play, The Frog; Tennant played the title role (a serial killer) and the Princess was assistant stage director.
In 1954 he was forced to deny newspaper reports that he would shortly announce his engagement to the Princess. "I don't expect she would have had me," he said, gallantly, years later.
As his business ventures in Mustique were beginning to turn sour, in 1977 Tennant joined the Scottish Nationalist Party and briefly flirted with the idea of standing for Parliament.
In 1998 he returned to Scotland from St Lucia, bringing Cletus and Marcellinus, twin St Lucian limbo dancers and fire eaters, to appear at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The climax of their performance was the 71-year-old Glenconner himself "limbo dancing" under a low pole aided by the St Lucian twins.
In old age, Glenconner was dismissive about his life: "Nothing much has happened to me... I don't think about the past; it's like a party – gone the day after." He was, however, working on an autobiography.
He and his wife Anne had five children, and she survives him with their third son and their twin daughters. The title passes to Cody Charles Edward Tennant, born in 1994, Colin Tennant's grandson by his eldest son. Last January, Lord Glenconner discovered that before his marriage he had fathered a son, Joshua, by Lucian Freud's former muse Henrietta Moraes. Joshua has since been welcomed into the family.
Flamboyant aristocrat behind the island resort of Mustique beloved by the rich and famous.
Colin Tennant, 3rd Baron Glenconner, was a tall, quick-witted and handsome member of one of the industrial "good families" dating back to the 17th century. Such families worked their way into the aristocracy, courted royalty and found themselves and their descendants partly eroded by economic pressures and personal tragedies in the second half of the 20th century. In the case of Tennant, who has died aged eighty-three, it was Princess Margaret who was once the reported marital "intended" and who remained a lifelong friend. For years, long after the chances of marriage between them had disappeared, Princess Margaret kept a house on the Caribbean island of Mustique which was his personal property.
It was in the 1950s that Tennant was spotted as a possible husband for Princess Margaret, who had been publicly hurt by the collapse of her hopes of marrying the dashing commoner Group Captain Peter Townsend. She was seen attending morning service at Traquair church near Innerleithen, Peeblesshire. She had been staying three miles away at the home of the 2nd Baron Glenconner, Christopher Tennant, and his wife Pamela. In her car to the church were the Glenconners and their eldest son, Colin, who was ex-Eton, ex-New College, Oxford, and ex-Irish Guards.
In accordance with the rigid social divisions then existing, Margaret and the scion of Scottish industrialists went their separate ways. In 1956 Tennant married Lady Anne Coke, by whom he later had three sons and twin daughters. He maintained friendly contact with Princess Margaret until her death in 2002. He gave her a villa on Mustique, Les Jolies Eaux, after she married the photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, later Lord Snowdon.
The origins of Colin's family, based in Ayrshire, were rugged. John Tennant, a Scottish farmer of Blairston, was born in 1637. Charles Tennant, who was born in 1768, was the great-grandson of this farmer but a man of more technical and scientific interests. He moved to Glasgow and established a factory for manufacturing bleaching powder, which was patented in 1798. Out of the invention sprang more than 20 Tennant chemical companies. The family at this stage inclined more towards those of political as well as social value. Sir Charles Tennant, a grandson of the bleach inventor, was a Glasgow MP who was the father of Margot, Lady Asquith, and was created 1st Baronet in 1885. His son, Edward, the 2nd Baronet, became the 1st Baron in 1911. Sir Charles retired to the Tennant family home in Peeblesshire and died there in 1906. It was from this home that Colin journeyed to church with Princess Margaret in the 50s.
Colin initially worked for one of the numerous family firms, C Tennant, Sons & Co. Over the years the Tennants became wealthy landowners as well as industrialists. Part of their land was in the West Indies, including a neglected 15,000 acres in Trinidad. After this was sold in 1958, Colin bought Mustique, then a very parched island in the Grenadines, for £45,000. He made it into a holiday destination for the rich, the famous and the louche. He gave fancy-dress parties where the guests turned up in outfits as striking as Tennant's own jeweled turban. Rock stars such as Mick Jagger and David Bowie rubbed shoulders with Viscount Linley and the Earl of Lichfield and with entertainers and media folk including John Cleese and Sir David Frost. To celebrate his 60th birthday, Tennant held a floating party, for which all the guests had a 100-mile boat trip to St Lucia, where later he would choose to live.
But by 1977, Tennant was beginning to brood that one should never depend upon selling to the rich, because they always knew how to get the best and more for their money; that he was not really a good businessman; and that perhaps his dignity had been slightly compromised. After almost 20 years of Mustique, he "wanted to take a back seat" and sold the majority shareholding to a consortium headed by the Venezuelan paint manufacturer Hans Neumann, who had a house on the island. He said it would now be more professionally run. At the age of 50, Tennant announced that he was going to embark on a new career with the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP). He sold his house in Chelsea for £400,000, a fortune in those days, and tried to get selected as the SNP candidate for the constituency of Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles, where he had a 9,000-acre estate, and therefore felt he could not be accused of being a carpetbagger. But in 1976, when the selection committee met to consider it, just over half of the 37 delegates supported his candidature against the competition of Maureen Watt, daughter of the SNP's Hamish Watt, MP for Banffshire.
The committee decided that, although Tennant had received more votes, his support had not been overwhelming enough to command the support of SNP members in the constituency as a whole. By the following year, Tennant was chairman of the constituency association of the SNP, vowing to support Angus Stewart, an Edinburgh lawyer, in challenging the then sitting MP, the Liberal leader David Steel.
The lure of exotic environments returned. Early in the 1980s, Tennant paid around £200,000 for Jalousie Plantation, 488 acres of virgin rainforest in St Lucia. To make the purchase, he had to sell art works including 15 paintings by Lucian Freud and a Constable picture, Whitehall Stairs, for £63,000, which he said in 1994, when he opened up a new restaurant and rum shop in the rainforest, would probably by then be worth £25m. Unlikely an occupation as the keeping of a rum shop might seem for the man who had become the 3rd Baron Glenconner in 1983, after the death of his father, he made no secret of the fact that economically he needed it to succeed.
He sold half the land to a holiday resort developer, while he, next door, opened a restaurant he called Bang Between the Pitons because potential clients always had to ask where it was and were told: "It's bang between the Pitons [two volcanic peaks]." Many of the partying crew who had gone to Mustique now followed him to St Lucia. He had a seaside shack with one bedroom containing a solid silver four-poster bed. One commentator wrote that Bang Between the Pitons was the only place in the world where you could find Princess Margaret and a member of Led Zeppelin eating bananas and Mars Bar sandwiches.
Such a scene epitomized his exotic personality and interests. It always seemed too prosaic to say merely that he was governing director of Tennants Estate Ltd from 1967 to 1991 and chairman of the Mustique Company from 1969 to 1987. On St Lucia he never had to wear executive's clothes but almost always chose crisp simple Indian cotton.
His son and heir Charles, who had been a heroin addict, died in 1996; another son, Henry, died of Aids in 1990; his third son, Christopher, was badly injured in a motorcycle accident in 1987. He is survived by Lady Anne, their two daughters, Amy and May, and Christopher; and by Joshua Bowler, whom he only discovered was his son, by Henrietta Moraes, in 2009. He is also survived by his sister, Emma. Cody Tennant, his grandson, succeeds as the 4th Baron Glenconner.
• Colin Christopher Paget Tennant, 3rd Baron Glenconner, landowner, born 1 December 1926; died 27 August 2010
Ancestral Quarterings Of
3rd Baron Glenconner
1 – Colin Tennant, 3rd Baron Glenconner.
2 – Christopher Grey Tennant, 2nd Baron Glenconner.
3 - Pamela Winifred Paget.
4 - Edward Priaulx Tennant, 1st Baron Glenconner.
5 – Pamela Genevieve Adelaide Wyndham.
6 – Sir Richard Arthur Surtees Paget, 2nd bart.
7 - Lady Muriel Evelyn Vernon Finch-Hatton.
8 – Sir Charles Tennant, 1st bart.
9 - Emma Winsloe. d. 1895
10 – Hon. Percy Scawen Wyndham.
11 - Madeline Caroline Frances Campbell.
12 – Sir Richard Paget, 1st bart.
13 - Caroline Isabel Surtees.
14 - Murray Edward Gordon Finch-Hatton, 12th Earl of Winchilsea.
15 - Edith Harcourt.
Great Great Grandparents:
16 - John Tennant.
17 – Robina Arroll.
18 - Richard Winsloe.
19 – Charlotte Monckton.
20 - George Wyndham, 1st Baron Leconfield.
21 - Mary Fanny Blunt. d. 1863
22 – Sir Guy Campbell, 1st bart.
23 - Pamela FitzGerald.
24 - John Moore Paget.
25 - Elizabeth Jane Doveton.
26 - Henry Surtees.
27 - Eliza Snell Chaucy.
28 - George William Finch-Hatton, 10th Earl of Winchilsea.
29 - Fanny Margaretta Rice.
30 - Edward William Harcourt.
31 – Lady Susan Harriet Holroyd.
Great Great Great Grandparents:
32 - Charles Tennant.
33 - Margaret Wilson.
34 – 39 Untraced.
40 - George O'Brien Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont.
41 - Elizabeth Ilive.
44 – Lt.Gen. Colin Campbell.
45 - Mary Johnstone.
46 – Lord Edward FitzGerald.
47 - Nancy Sims 1773-1831
48 - John Paget.
49 – Jane Snow.
50 – John Frederick Doveton.
51 – Elizabeth Crossman.
52 - Robert Surtees.
53 - Elizabeth Cookson.
54 – Charles Snell Chauncy.
55 – Elizabeth Beale.
56 - George Finch-Hatton.
57 – Lady Elizabeth Mary Murray.
58 – Edward Royd Rice.
59 – Elizabeth Austen Knight.
60 - William Vernon Harcourt.
61 - Mathilde Mary Gooch.
62 - George Augustus Frederick Charles Holroyd, 2nd Earl of Sheffield.
63 – Lady Harriett Lascelles.
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