Ralph Montagu

I looked up my ancient card index to find out a bit more about Ralph Montagu, the man who built Boughton.   Born just before the Civil War, educated at Westminster under Dr. Busby, he entered the service of the court as a gentleman of the horse.   Dark, swarthy and saturnine, he was a great ladies man.   In 1669, he was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary to France.   It was there that he developed his Francophile taste, including a visit to Versailles where ‘he had all the gardens &c. at his command’ and where he was said to have ‘formed his idea of building and gardening’.   In Paris, he had an affair with the Duchess of Cleveland, the King’s former mistress, who denounced him to the King.   Endlessly involved in plots of one sort or another on both sides of the Channel, he became one of the supporters of the Glorious Revolution and was raised to a dukedom, building both Boughton and Montagu House in Bloomsbury as monuments to his rapacity and taste.

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