CURZON, George Nathaniel, Marquess Curzon of Kedleston (1859-1925)
Plaque erected in 1976 by Greater London Council at 1 Carlton House Terrace, St James's, London, SW1Y 5AF, City of Westminster
Politician, Viceroy of India
Politics and Administration
GEORGE NATHANIEL CURZON MARQUESS CURZON OF KEDLESTON 1859-1925 Statesman Viceroy of India lived and died here
British statesman George Nathaniel Curzon, known as Lord Curzon, was Viceroy of India (1899–1905) and later Foreign Secretary (1919–24). The blue plaque at 1 Carlton House Terrace, Westminster, marks his London home from 1906 until his death in 1924.
Politics and Asia
Since his early days of education at Eton College, Curzon had shown a keen interest in Asia and a fascination with imperial rule in India. After studying at Oxford, he became an MP at the age of 27, and soon made his name as an expert on the East, strengthening his knowledge through a number of journeys to central Asia, Persia and the Far East between 1887 and 1895.
An ardent imperialist, Curzon used his travels to form a comprehensive study of the problems with Asia, reinforcing his views that nations such as India were better served under British rule. His knowledge of the region led to him being appointed Under-Secretary for India (1891) and later Viceroy (1899).
Viceroy of India
As Viceroy, Curzon declared his aim to ‘hold the scales even’ in India; however his leadership was ultimately steered by his passionate beliefs in colonialism and he ignored a growing call for the political rights for Indians at the time. He instigated a number of reforms to the police, the railways, education and conservation – overseeing repairs to monuments all over India, including the Taj Mahal. His term is notable for a controversial partitioning of Bengal (1905) and he is accused of culpable inaction during the famine crisis that claimed millions of lives during his first year and a half as Viceroy.
Life in England
In March 1906, not long after Curzon resigned as Viceroy and returned to England, the family settled at 1 Carlton House Terrace in London. The house had previously been acquired in 1898 and had been intended as a London base for the family during their period abroad.
While living at Carlton House Terrace Curzon was dedicated to the care of his ailing wife, Mary, née Leiter, who died there in July 1906. The house was also the site of the coming-out ball for Irene, one of Curzon’s three daughters, in May 1914. A supper room 70 feet (21 metres.) long was erected in the garden and this grand occasion was one of the last great pre-war events of its kind.
During a temporary break from politics (1906–15) Curzon devoted his time to various causes. His traditional views extended to women’s position in society and he was president of the National League for Opposing Woman Suffrage. His interest in the arts and conservation led to more positive endeavours: he restored Bodiam Castle, East Sussex, and Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire – both of which he bequeathed to the nation – and drafted reports that shaped the future of the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery.
Curzon returned to office in 1915 in the coalition Cabinet, and four years later became Foreign Secretary under Lloyd George. His greatest achievement in this position was the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), effectively establishing the modern state of Turkey. In that year Curzon was pipped to the post of Prime Minister by Stanley Baldwin. He remained at the Foreign Office until 1924, and died at Carlton House Terrace the following year.