Birth: 27 July 1919
Place or Registered Place of Birth: St. George's, Hanover Square, London
Baptism: Not Known
Place of Baptism: Not Known
Death: 1 November 2005 - Aged 86
Place or Registered Place of Death: Old Bodnod, Colwyn Bay, Denbighshire, North Wales
Father: Charles Henry Alexander Paget
Spouse(s): John Francis McLaren
Date of Marriage: 3 April 1940
Place or Registered Place of Marriage: Chelsea Old Church, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, London
Victoria Mary Caroline McLaren (1945-)
Harriet Diana Christabel McLaren (1949-)
Lady Rose Mary Primrose McLaren (27 July 1919–1 November 2005) was a British aristocrat, the fourth daughter of the 6th Marquess of Anglesey.
The Paget family (the Marquesses of Anglesey), who lived at Plas Newydd and Beaudesert in Staffordshire were a close-knit family particularly noted for the beauty of their daughters. Lady Rose's parents were famous and generous hosts and led an unstuffy life for the times. In her early years Rose's world (which was caught in her father's home movies) was one in which her nursery teas were served by white-gloved footmen.
Lady Rose Paget, as she was before her marriage, was the fourth of five daughters — her eldest sister Elizabeth was thought by many to be the most beautiful Englishwoman of her generation — and along with another sister, Caroline, shared the dark good looks of their mother (the former Lady Marjorie Manners, eldest daughter of the 8th Duke of Rutland). Her brother is the 7th Marquess of Anglesey. Another of Rose's sisters Mary, was brain-damaged, and Rose made herself responsible for her sister's welfare until her death in 1996.
In her younger days Plas Newydd played host to a lively artistic group; amongst these was Rex Whistler who was in love with Rose's elder sister Caroline. From 1936 – 1937, Whistler painted for her father, for the dining room of the house, an enormous mural (this was in fact, a 58 ft (18 m) wide painting which was painted on a single piece of canvas).
After being largely at educated home, Rose went on to live a varied and unconventional life, being at different times:
A land girl
When she was sixteen, Rose fell hopelessly in love with the dancer Sir Frederick Ashton — something he discouraged — whilst later remaining friends with her. At one point he returned her letters to her — having first corrected her spelling!
Rose was twice engaged to the 8th Duke of Wellington; however it seems that he was rather too conventional for Rose's free spirit and in 1940 Rose married Squadron Leader The Hon. John Francis McLaren, the second son of the 2nd Baron Aberconway. The marriage was an open one, which ended with his untimely death in 1953. The McLarens had two daughters, Victoria & Harriet.
In her widowhood, Rose lived a full life and had many affairs. Through her friendship with the fabulously outrageous lesbian, Muriel Belcher (who George Melly called "a benevolent witch"), she was drawn into and became part of an artistic, but quite dissolute set who were habitués of Soho and in particular the Colony Room. It was here that she became friends with the artist Francis Bacon and his biographer Dan Farson.
At about this time she established her famous florist's business, which operated from the basement of her house in Chelsea. The business was successful and along with her partner, Pamela Forster (the daughter of Lord Forster of Harraby and a former employee of Constance Spry), they supplied the flowers for the wedding of her friend Princess Margaret in 1960.
Rose gave up the business in 1975 and returned to Wales, to Old Bodnod - a house on the Aberconway estate which had been given to her husband by his father; this house was later let for a short period to American actress Katharine Hepburn, who was at the time filming nearby.
In later life she threw herself into country life and amongst other things was:
County chairwoman of Macmillan Nurses
Vice-president of the Welsh Opera in north Wales
President of Conway's Churchill Club
President of her local agricultural club
Unlike her aunt, Lady Diana Cooper, she was a careful driver and even into her eighties was a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists.
Daily Post (Liverpool) - November 7, 2005
A North Wales aristocrat who organised the flower displays at a Royal wedding has died.
Lady Rose McLaren died at her home on the Bodnant estate in the Conwy Valley last week aged 86.
Rose Mary Primrose Paget, the fourth of five daughters of the 6th Marquess of Anglesey enjoyed a brief career as a ballet dancer before becoming a well-known figure in social circles in London. She also established a successful florist business supplying flowers for major occasions including the wedding of Princess Margaret.
She spent her early years at the family's houses, Plas Newydd on Anglesey and Beaudesert, in Staffordshire...........
The Times - 2 December 2005
Lady Rose McLaren
A daughter of the Marquess of Anglesey whose unconventional life ranged from ballet dancer to florist
July 27, 1919 - November 1, 2005
Lady Rose McLaren was born into an aristocratic family noted for its closeness and its beauty, and went on to live a life as unconventional as it was varied. She was a ballerina, a Land Girl, a Colony Room habituée, a florist and finally a community-minded countrywoman. She was also a wife, a devoted sister and mother, a lover of fast cars and fine-looking men.
Rose Mary Primrose Paget was the fourth of five daughters of the 6th Marquess of Anglesey and his wife, Lady Marjorie Manners, herself the daughter of the Duke of Rutland. She grew up at Plas Newydd, the elegant 18th-century Anglesey seat built by James Wyatt, with spectacular views of the Menai Strait and Snowdonia. Apart from a brief, unhappy time at boarding school, she was educated at home.
The Angleseys were generous hosts, and life at Plas Newydd was comfortable and unstuffy. The latter was unusual for a courtier. Lord Anglesey was Lord Chamberlain to Queen Mary. He was an enthusiastic and accomplished home-movie maker, and among his films was Pink Shirts, a parody of Sir Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts, featuring Rose. Lady Anglesey had an artistic, slightly bohemian, streak, which was passed to her daughters.
Rose’s elder sisters, Elizabeth (probably the most beautiful Englishwoman of her generation) and Caroline, shared the striking dark features of their mother while Rose was fairer and blue-eyed. Young people who came to stay tended to be embraced by the whole family. Rex Whistler was one of these and the largest collection of his work is now at Plas Newydd.
Another visitor and Plas Newydd favourite was the dancer Frederick Ashton. Rose had wanted to be a ballerina since she was a girl. At 5ft 8in she was too tall to be a star and had small corps de ballet roles, first at the Mercury and later at Sadler’s Wells with Marie Rambert.
She was 16 when they first met and Ashton treated her as a child. Rose became infatuated with him and proposed to Ashton. She tried to convince him that marriage could be a mutually agreeable arrangement. She told Ashton’s biographer, Julie Kavanagh: “I absolutely understood we would have our own rooms. I was a virgin but not at all innocent. I understood a lot about life.”
Ashton refused to take her seriously and told her: “Don’t be so stupid, Rose. You’ve got to marry a rich man and have affairs with dukes.” And while he fell in love with her family he was keen to discourage Rose. When she was sent to finishing school in Paris he returned her letters, having first corrected her spelling. Yet they remained friends.
Maybe with Ashton’s advice in mind, she was twice engaged to the (present) Duke of Wellington. It seemed somehow apt that as her ancestor, the 1st Marquess of Anglesey, had lost his leg fighting alongside the 1st Duke of Wellington at Waterloo, Rose would give her hand to his descendant. The duke was himself the product of a most unconventional marriage, but he was perhaps too conventional for Rose.
In 1940 she married instead the boy next door. Squadron Leader the Hon John McLaren — the fair and dashing younger son of Lord Aberconway and his formidable wife, Christabel — lived nearby at Bodnant at Colwyn Bay in North Wales. Theirs was an open marriage which endured until John McLaren’s death in tragic circumstances in 1953. It was a devastating blow. She never remarried but she did enjoy a number of affairs.
Lady Rose was completely unsnobbish. Through a friendship with the sharp-tongued, foul-mouthed Muriel Belcher, the Portuguese-Jewish lesbian who ran it, Rose became part of the dissolute artistic set who inhabited the Colony Room, a bilious emerald-green bar the size of a bed-sit in the heart of Soho. It was the second home of Francis Bacon, who appreciated the total absence of restraint and dispensed drinks with the toast: “Champagne for my real friends and real pain for my sham friends.”
She loved Bacon’s biographer, Dan Farson, but considered the other great Colony artist, Lucian Freud, ill-mannered. He called her “the German governess”.
In 1957 Lady Rose began a flower business from the basement of her Chelsea house with Pamela Forster, the daughter of Lord Forster of Harraby and a former employee of Constance Spry. Rose would bring rhododendrons and foliage from the magnificent gardens of Bodnant and these were supplemented, in what seemed to be Eliza Doolittle in reverse, by trips to the markets at Covent Garden. Rose remarked upon the fierceness of the porters’ language, but after the Colony Room it is difficult to imagine what words could possibly shock.
The business flourished but the premises remained confined. Princess Margaret once dined in Rose’s dining room surrounded by three life-size, chicken-wire horses covered in moss, destined for a Jaeger shop window. She must have been impressed because Rose and Pam were asked to do the flowers for the Princess’s wedding to Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1960. The business moved opposite the Connaught Hotel, which was a client. They also provided the flowers for all of Hardy Amies ’s shows.
By 1975 she seemed to have had her fill of London life and returned to Old Bodnod, a house on the Aberconway estate that John had been given by his father. In the late Seventies she let Old Bodnod to Katharine Hepburn, who was filming in Wales. They became friends.
Back in Wales, Lady Rose lived the sort of life that might have been expected of a marquess’s daughter in her day. She was county chairwoman of Macmillan Nurses, vice- president of the Welsh Opera in North Wales and president of Conway’s Churchill Club and the local agricultural show. She also continued to take responsibility, as she had all her life, for her incapacitated sister, Lady Mary, who died in 1996.
She had a love of fast cars but, unlike her aunt, Lady Diana Cooper — a terrifyingly erratic driver who would say: “What are bumpers for?” — Lady Rose prided herself on her membership, at 80, of the Institute of Advanced Motorists.
She is survived by her two daughters.
Lady Rose McLaren was born on July 27, 1919. She died on November 1, 2005, aged 86.
Lady Rose Mary Primrose Paget