This record is held by East Sussex and Brighton and Hove Record Office (ESBHRO)

Details of CLW
Reference: CLW





The Records


CLW/1 Sir Tufton Beamish (Lord Chelwood)


CLW/1/1 Military Career; 1938-1948


CLW/1/2 Lewes Parliamentary Constituency; 1930-1970


CLW/1/3 Parliamentary Career, General; 1945-1974


CLW/1/4 Political and other files; 1945-1984


CLW/1/5 Publications and speeches; 1950-1981


CLW/1/6 Family correspondence; 1925-1954


CLW/1/7 Other personal material; 1917-1991


CLW/1/8 Press cutting books; 1945-1985


CLW/1/9 Other records; 1974


CLW/2 Rear-Admiral T P H Beamish


CLW/2/1 Personal and Naval; 1893-1951


CLW/2/2 Lewes Parliamentary Constituency (and other Constituencies); 1923-1945


CLW/2/3 Parliamentary Career, General; 1924-1945


CLW/3 Mrs Margaret A Beamish


CLW/3/1 Political diaries; 1937-1946


CLW/4 Rear-Admiral H H Beamish


CLW/4/1 Journals; 1850-1863

Date: 1850-1991
Held by: East Sussex and Brighton and Hove Record Office (ESBHRO), not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Beamish, Sir Tufton, 1917-1989, of Baron Chelwood

Physical description: 14 Series
Access conditions:

Documents less than thirty years old may be subject to restricted access. Enquiry should be made before a visit

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited in 1985, 1989, 1992 (Acc 4475, 5311, 5373, 6017)

  • Lewes, East Sussex
  • Political life
Administrative / biographical background:



These papers document the career in the army, in politics, and in public and private life generally of Sir Tufton Victor Hamilton Beamish MC DL, later Baron Chelwood. To a lesser extent they concern also the Naval and personal careers of his father, Rear-Admiral Tufton Percy Hamilton Beamish CB DL (1874-1951), and of his grandfather, Rear-Admiral Henry Hamilton Beamish CB (1829-1901), but many of the latter papers are photocopies only, the originals (with others not copied here) being in Churchill College, Cambridge. Also present are the political diaries of Lord Chelwood's mother, Mrs Margaret Beamish


(a) Sir Tufton Beamish MP (Lord Chelwood)


Tufton Beamish was born on 27 January 1917, the older of two sons of Rear-Admiral T P H Beamish (see below). He was educated at Kings Mead Preparatory School, Seaford; Stowe School; and Sandhurst Military Academy, taking part in a public schools expedition to explore Newfoundland in 1934


He was commissioned in the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers in 1937, seeing service in Palestine in 1937-39, France and Belgium in 1940, Singapore and India, 1942-43, North Africa in 1943-44, and Italy in 1944. He was awarded the Military Cross for his part in the evacuation from Dunkirk, and had a notable escape by rowing boat from the Japanese when Singapore was taken


He was elected Conservative Member of Parliament for Lewes in 1945 in succession to his father, remaining so until 1974. He was knighted in 1961, and in 1974 was created a Life Peer as Lord Chelwood of Lewes. Sir Tufton's distinguished parliamentary career, and his involvement in Europe, are illustrated in the papers listed below, while a full list of dates and offices can be seen in Who's Who (qv)


Of particular interest here are the files relating to individual subjects, for example the alleged repatriation of Soviet Nationals from Austria and Hungary from 1945; his rôle as an observer of the 1980 Zimbabwe General Election; and (lastly) his opposition to the Poll Tax in 1988. He also had a strong interest in Middle East affairs, particularly in what he saw as the unfair treatment of the Palestinian people. He published books and many articles (most represented here), and had a particular interest in nature conservation. After his father's death he lived at Chelworth, Chelwood Gate, and then from 1976 at Plover's Meadow, Blackboys. He died on 6 April 1989


The family correspondence in particular (CLW/1/6) makes some reference to his only brother, Capt John Beamish, who was with Tufton at Stowe, and who served in India during the last War. He was killed in the advance on Mandalay in 1945. There were also sisters - 'Vi' (Vivien), and 'Gilly' (Gillian). Gillian was married first in the name of O'Connor, and then to the Italian sculptor Enzo Plazzotta, who designed the memorial in Lewes commemorating the Battle of Lewes in 1264. The papers also make some mention of his aunt (his mother's sister) Lady Hamilton (née Eleanora Simon), of Cransford Hall, Saxmundham, Suffolk


Tufton Beamish was married in 1950 to Janet Stevenson of New York, and they had two daughters - Claudia (1952) and Andrea (1955, who married Christopher Plowman). The marriage was dissolved in 1973, and she died in 1975. He was remarried in 1975 to Mrs Pia McHenry (née von Roretz), who survives him


(b) Rear-Admiral T P H Beamish was born in 1874, the son of Rear-Admiral H H Beamish (see below); he died in 1951. He had a distinguished career in the Navy, which is well described in the photocopies deposited here (CLW/2/1). He served in East Africa in 1896, and on the Benin Expedition in 1897. After serving as Flag Commander to Prince Louis of Battenberg, 1908-10, and as Assistant Chief of War Staff, 1912-13, he again saw action as Commander of the 'Invincible' in the South Atlantic in 1914-15 (Battle of the Falklands). In 1916 he was in command of the 'Cordelia' at the Battle of Jutland. He retired from the Navy in 1922. He served as Conservative Member of Parliament for Lewes, 1924-31, and again 1936-45, when he was succeeded by his son Tufton (above). Some original letters of Admiral Beamish, addressed to his son(s) survive among Tufton's letters (CLW/1/6), and are notable for the advice he gave them for conducting their lives. He lived at Chelwood Gate (as did Tufton after him), and is featured in pre-1951 editions of Who's Who


(c) Mrs Margaret A Beamish, née Simon, was the wife of Rear-Admiral T P H Beamish (above). She kept her political diary from 1937-46, which relates to national and international affairs rather than to personal matters. There are some personal comments, but the diaries mostly comprise quotations and cuttings from newspapers. Lord Chelwood, her son, commented in 1985 "... The diary consists in the main of cuttings from the responsible press, though they are linked with some notes made by my mother. They seem to me to provide a remarkable history of the period covering the war and may well be of interest to researchers one day. It is hardly surprising that she had such an interest in politics, in which she could not play an active part because of ill-health. Her husband, Admiral Beamish, was Conservative MP for Lewes from 1924-45, and her brother-in-law, Sir George Hamilton, Bart, was also a Conservative MP. She had four brothers of whom three were killed in the Great War. The only survivor [was] Sir Ernest Simon, a Liberal MP for a number of years and later Chairman of the BBC, being created Lord Simon of Wythenshawe". She died after 1957


(d) Rear-Admiral H H Beamish is represented here only by parts of his personal journal at sea, though there is also available his son's account of his life (CLW/2/1/13). He was born in 1829 and died in 1901. He served variously in Burma, the Baltic, China, and West Africa, but for fuller details the complete original papers in Churchill College should be consulted. He lived at Brasted, Kent

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