john barrington


Edward John Barrington Douglas-Scott-Montagu, 3rd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, photographed in 1946 (© National Portrait Gallery, London) and more recently in his musuem.
Sad news today that Baron Montagu of Beaulieu has died peacefully at his home, aged 88, after a short illness. In addition to being a motoring enthusiast who established the the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, the Baron was a bisexual who was convicted and imprisoned in 1954 for homosexual sex, a charge he denied. In a 2000 interview he stated, “My attraction to both sexes neither changed nor diminished at university and it was comforting to find that I was not the only person faced with such a predicament. I agonised less than my contemporaries, for I was reconciled to my bisexuality, but I was still nervous about being exposed.” In 1954 he was charged with performing “gross offences” with an RAF serviceman during a weekend party at the beach hut on his country estate. Montagu always maintained he was innocent of this charge “We had some drinks, we danced, we kissed, that’s all”. Nevertheless, he was imprisoned for twelve months for “consensual homosexual offences” along with Michael Pitt-Rivers and Peter Wildeblood. The trial caused a backlash of opinion among some politicians and church leaders that led to the setting up of the Wolfenden Committee, which in its 1957 report recommended the decriminalisation of homosexual activity in private between two adults. Ten years later, Parliament finally carried out the recommendation, a huge turning point in gay history in Britain. In a 2007 interview, when asked if he felt that he and his co-defendants had been instrumental in the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Britain, Lord Montagu said, “I am slightly proud that the law has been changed to the benefit of so many people. I would like to think that I would get some credit for that. Maybe I’m being very boastful about it but I think because of the way we behaved and conducted our lives afterwards, because we didn’t sell our stories, we just returned quietly to our lives, I think that had a big effect on public opinion.”

He made the world a better place for both car enthusiasts and homosexuals, may he rest in peace,_3rd_Baron_Montagu_of_Beaulieu