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The Papers of Alfred Lyttelton and Dame Edith Lyttelton, and their son Oliver Lyttelton (1st Viscount Chandos)

Reference Code: GBR/0014/CHAN

Scope and Contents

Political and personal correspondence and other papers.

CHAN 1, contains mainly papers of Hon Alfred Lyttelton and Dame Edith Lyttelton, with a smaller quantity of material of Oliver Lyttelton
CHAN II, consist mainly of papers of Oliver Lyttelton, with a smaller quantity of papers of Alfred and Edith Lyttelton


  • Creation: 1804 - 1972


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holder and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.

Biographical / Historical

ALFRED LYTTELTON was born in February 1857, the youngest of the twelve children of the 4th Baron Lyttelton. He was educated at a preparatory school in Brighton and then at Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge. He played cricket for Cambridge from 1876 until 1879. In 1881 he was called to the Bar and from 1882-85 he was legal private secretary to Sir Henry James (Attorney-General). He was subsequently Recorder of Hereford, 1893–4, and of Oxford, 1894–1903, and took silk in 1900. He married Octavia Laura Tennant in May 1885 and, after her death in 1886, married Edith Sophy Balfour (daughter of Archibald Balfour, a London businessman and merchant in Russia) at Bordighera on the Italian riviera in April 1892. Together with Edith he had two surviving children, including Oliver Lyttelton (later 1st Viscount Chandos). He was elected Liberal Unionist MP for Warwick and Leamington from 1895-1906. In 1900 he was sent to South Africa by Joseph Chamberlain as Chairman of the Transvaal Concessions Commission to plan post-war reconstruction. After the resignation of Chamberlain in September 1903, Lyttelton was himself appointed Colonial Secretary. His advocacy of the Chinese Labour Ordinance of March 1904 to solve the labour shortage in South Africa led to a considerable outcry. Lyttelton lost his parliamentary seat in the 1906 general election, but was unopposed for St George's, Hanover Square, at a subsequent by-election in June 1906. In July 1913 he was struck in the stomach during a cricket match and died of the resulting abscess. DAME EDITH LYTTELTON was born in St Petersburg, Russia, in 1865. She was educated privately and moved in the aristocratic circle of friends known as the "Souls", which included A. J. Balfour, George Curzon, Margot Tennant (later Asquith), and Alfred Lyttelton. She was commonly known as "D.D.". During her visit to South Africa with her husband in 1900 she developed a high regard for 1st Viscount (Alfred) Milner, and helped establish the Victorian League in 1901 with Violet Markham and Violet Cecil to promote the imperial vision advocated by Milner. The League brought together high-ranking women from different sides of the political divide on the common ground of the empire. She served as its Honorary Secretary and also supported the Women's Tariff Reform Association.

She served on the Executive of the National Union of Women Workers (founded in 1895) and as Chairwoman of the Personal Service Association (founded in 1908, to alleviate distress caused by unemployment in London). At the outbreak of World War One she was a founder of the War Refugees Committee

She was later made Deputy Director of the Women's Branch of the Ministry of Agriculture in 1917, served on the Central Committee of Women's Employment from 1916-25, and as Vice-Chairman of the Waste Reclamation Trade Board from 1924-31. She was also the British substitute delegate in Geneva to the League of Nations in 1923, 1926-28, and 1931.

After the death of her husband she became interested in spiritualism and was a member, and President from 1933-34, of the council of the Society for Psychical Research. Spiritualism heavily influenced her works, "The Faculty of Communion" (1925), "Our Superconscious Mind" (1931), and "Some Cases of Prediction" (1937), as well her biography of Florence Upton (1926).

She wrote a novel, "The Sinclair Family" (1926), an account of her travels in the Far East and India, "Travelling Days" (1933), and published a biography of her former husband in March 1917. Among her seven plays, two were inspired by her campaign against ‘sweated’ labour, "Warp and Woof" and "The Thumbscrew". She also translated Edmond Rostand's "Les deux pierrots". She was encouraged by her close friendship with George Bernard Shaw and Mrs Patrick Campbell. After 1918 she also lobbied for the foundation of a national theatre in London and was a member of the Executive Committee of the Shakespeare Memorial National Theatre.

She was made a DBE in 1917 and a GBE in 1929. She died in September 1948.

OLIVER LYTTELTON was born in March 1893, the only surviving son of Alfred Lyttelton and his second wife Edith.

He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge. After two years at Cambridge he volunteered for service on the outbreak of World War One and was commissioned in the 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire regiment, and later the Grenadier Guards. He served in France from early 1915-April 1918 and was mentioned in dispatches on three occasions and won the DSO and the MC. He rose to the rank of Brigade Major. In 1915 he also met Winston Churchill in the Guards.

In January 1920 he married Lady Moira Godolphin Osborne (1891–1976), daughter of George Godolphin Osborne, tenth duke of Leeds.

After World War One he was employed by the banking firm Brown Shipley & Co. and from 1920 by the British Metal Corporation (established by the British government to undermine Germany's domination of the metal trade). He ultimately served as General Manager of the Corporation and as its Managing Director. He was also appointed Chairman of the London Tin Corporation and served on the boards of a number of foreign companies engaged in the metal trade. On the outbreak of World War Two in September 1939 he was appointed Controller of Non-Ferrous Metals. In 1940 he was appointed by Churchill as supply co-ordinator to his defence office and, in October, as President of the Board of Trade.

At the end of June 1941 he was sent by Churchill to Egypt as Minister of State and was appointed a member of the War Cabinet. His duties included liaison with General de Gaulle and the Free French. In February 1942 he was appointed as Minister of Production and continued in this role until the end of the War. His vital task was to oversee the co-ordination of production with the United States. During Churchill's caretaker government of May to July 1945 he remained as Minister of Production and again held the post of President of the Board of Trade.

He served as an MP for the parliamentary seat of the Aldershot Division of Hampshire from 1940-54. In 1950 became Chairman of the Conservative Party's Finance Committee. In 1951 Lyttelton was appointed Colonial Secretary, a post that had been held by his father from 1903-05. He remained at the Colonial Office until the end of July 1954 and was subsequently (September 1954) elevated to the House of Lords, becoming 1st Viscount Chandos of Aldershot. He resumed his business career, serving as Chairman of Associated Electrical Industries and as President of the Institute of Directors.

He also served as Chairman of the Board of the National Theatre from 1962-71, and was its President until his death. The Lyttelton Theatre opened as one of the constituent parts of the National in 1976. He published his Memoirs in 1962 and "From Peace to War: a Study in Contrast, 1857–1918" (1968).

He died in January 1972.


55 archive box(es)

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

The collection has been catalogued and hard copies of the full catalogue are available for consultation in the Reading Room at Churchill Archives Centre and at the National Register of Archives in London.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were presented to Churchill Archives Centre between 1970 and 1978, and in 2007.


The collection (fonds) level description and summary catalogue was prepared by Andrew Riley of Churchill Archives Centre in August 2005.The biographical information was taken from "Who Was Who" (A & C Black). The catalogue was converted in November 2007 by Sandra Marsh. A new accession was added to the catalogue by Sophie Bridges, August 2008.


Lyttelton, Oliver, 1893-1972, 1st Viscount Chandos

2005-01-06 10:01:18+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
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