Clare Bald­ing’s his­tory

It’s good sport Clare Bald­ing’s turn to get emo­tional…

TV Times - - News - Who Do You Think You Are? Caren Clark

Clare Bald­ing has al­ways been in­trigued by hints of a scan­dal in her fam­ily. The sports pre­sen­ter sus­pected that her ma­ter­nal great­grand­fa­ther, MP Sir Mal­colm Bul­lock, was se­cretly gay, and in this week’s Who Do You Think You Are?, she dis­cov­ers the truth about Mal­colm’s friend­ship with cel­e­brated artist Rex Whistler.

‘I was in­ter­ested in Mal­colm be­cause there had been whis­pers about him in the fam­ily and things might have even been said in Par­lia­ment,’ Clare tells TV Times.

How­ever, Clare’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion was ham­pered be­cause some of Mal­colm’s cor­re­spon­dence was burned by his daugh­ter, Clare’s grand­mother, Priscilla.

‘It was frus­trat­ing,’ says

Clare, 46. ‘My grand­mother was a force­ful woman and

I won­der whether the shame as­so­ci­ated with Mal­colm con­trib­uted to her later ho­mo­pho­bia.’

Even­tu­ally, Clare tracked down Rex’s let­ters and dis­cov­ered that he and Mal­colm had a close re­la­tion­ship in the 1930s and were part of a set that at­tended par­ties at a coun­try house where cou­ples could be to­gether away from pry­ing eyes.

‘It was a fas­ci­nat­ing other world where they wouldn’t be judged,’ says Clare, who

mar­ried jour­nal­ist Alice Arnold in 2015. ‘I’ve no doubt that Mal­colm was gay or bi­sex­ual and I know he was heart­bro­ken when his re­la­tion­ship with Rex was bro­ken off. Mal­colm was also very pro­tec­tive to­wards other peo­ple who might have been crim­i­nalised at that time be­cause of their ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity. I wish

I could have met him.’

Mal­colm’s re­la­tion­ship with

Rex be­gan after the death of his wife, Lady Vic­to­ria Stan­ley, in a rid­ing ac­ci­dent in 1927. Clare wanted to dis­cover more about Mal­colm and Vic­to­ria’s mar­riage as she has a por­trait of her great-grand­mother, Vic­to­ria, in her home.

‘I as­sumed they had a mar­riage of con­ve­nience, but I dis­cov­ered that they re­ally loved each other,’ says Clare, who was moved to read a let­ter that Vic­to­ria’s fa­ther Ed­ward, the Earl of Derby, sent to Mal­colm fol­low­ing Vic­to­ria’s death.

‘I choked up be­cause it’s rare to see male emo­tion ex­pressed in that era, it was in­cred­i­bly mov­ing,’ she says.

Clare was also keen to in­ves­ti­gate the an­ces­tors of her race­horse trainer fa­ther Ian. How­ever, Ian was baf­fled that Clare wanted to fol­low the line of his Amer­i­can mother Eleanor Hoagland, rather than the more horsey Bald­ing clan. ‘Like many men, he be­lieves that only the males in the fam­ily are in­ter­est­ing!’ she laughs.

Mr Bald­ing couldn’t have been more wrong, be­cause when Clare headed to Amer­ica, she learned that the Hoaglands were de­scended from the 17th-cen­tury Dutch set­tlers who made New York their home, in­clud­ing Sarah Rapelje, the first Euro­pean woman to be born in the city.

‘It was amaz­ing to imag­ine what life was like for those Dutch set­tlers,’ says Clare. ‘I’ve never re­ally thought about my­self as Amer­i­can, but now I feel like Amer­i­can roy­alty!’

Clare also dis­cov­ered that

Eleanor’s fa­ther,

Joseph Hoagland, was a prop­erty de­vel­oper who helped shape the New York sky­line in the

1920s, and that her great­great-great grand­fa­ther, also a Joseph Hoagland, founded the Royal Bak­ing

Pow­der Com­pany in 1866.

‘The team who make the show found a Royal

Bak­ing Pow­der tin on

Ebay for me,’ says

Clare. ‘It’s now on my man­tel­piece in my study – it’s so cool!’

Pre­sen­ter Clare Bald­ing on how she has un­earthed a shock­ing fam­ily se­cret and her con­nec­tion to the birth of New York City

Clare Bald­ing ad­mits that she’s usu­ally look­ing to the fu­ture and the next sport­ing event, but she’s fizzing with ex­cite­ment as she looks back­wards for once, into the branches of her fam­ily tree. Her first stop is her ma­ter­nal great-grand­fa­ther

Sir Mal­colm Bul­lock, who she sus­pects had a gay re­la­tion­ship with artist Rex Whistler in the 1930s. Then, de­spite her vow not to cry (why do they promise that when they al­ways end up in floods?), there are tears as Clare learns about the death of Mal­colm’s wife Lady Vic­to­ria Stan­ley. Mean­while a trip to Amer­ica un­cov­ers her pa­ter­nal line and the fab­u­lously wealthy Hoagland fam­ily who made their for­tune through prop­erty and bak­ing pow­der!

New Yorker: Clare’s great­grand­fa­ther Joseph

Clare’s dad, Ian, with his brother and their fa­ther

Clare’s fam­ily set up the Royal Bak­ing Pow­der Co.

Politi­cian: Sir Mal­colm Bul­lock

Clare is com­pletely un­pre­pared for what she finds

Sir Mal­colm Bul­lock

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