Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava dies aged 79 

Artist and conversationalist Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, chatelaine of Northern Ireland‘s thriving Clandeboye estate, has died aged 79. 

Born in March 1941, Serena Belinda Rosemary Guinness, who painted under the name Lindy Guinness, was the daughter of financier and MP Loel Guinness and his second wife, Lady Isabel Manners, daughter of the 9th Duke of Rutland.

At the time of her birth her father, a fighter pilot in the Battle of Britain, was captain of a squadron at Prestick Airport. He famously encouraged his wife to give birth there to boost morale. 

‘He said the birth should take place at the airport to cheer everyone up,’ Lindy later recalled in an interview. ‘New life in the middle of the war, you know.’ 

An extraordinary start to an extraordinary life. 

Artist and conversationalist Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, chatelaine of Northern Ireland's thriving Clandeboye estate, has died aged 79. Pictured, the Marchioness in 2012

Artist and conversationalist Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, chatelaine of Northern Ireland’s thriving Clandeboye estate, has died aged 79. Pictured, the Marchioness in 2012

Lindy held her first exhibition in 1971 at the Harvane Gallery, London, and went on to show in Belfast, Dublin and Paris. Pictured in her studio in 1950

Lindy held her first exhibition in 1971 at the Harvane Gallery, London, and went on to show in Belfast, Dublin and Paris. Pictured in her studio in 1950

Lindy’s father and mother divorced when she was nine. Growing up she split her time between her mother’s ancestral seat of Belvoir Castle, in Leicestershire, now home to society beauties the Manners sisters, and Florida, where her father spent the winters with his third wife, Gloria Guinness. 

Her mother remarried to Sir Robert George Maxwell Throckmorton. 

In Miami, Lindy befriended Truman Capote. He was so wicked, I loved him,’ Lindy said of the author. Another favourite anecdote was how she went diving with Jacques Cousteau after meeting him on the family yacht off the South of France.

Despite the privilege afforded to her by her family, Lindy described herself as feeling lost before discovering art. 

At the age of 17 she was attending a Guy Fawkes party at Firle Place, in East Sussex, in 1958 when she spotted Bloomsbury painter Duncan Grant painting the bonfire. 

‘I stayed for the next hour and, during that time, I became intensely excited and knew that the one thing that I wanted to be was a painter,’ she later recalled. 

Born in March 1941, Serena Belinda Rosemary Guinness, who painted under the name Lindy Guinness, was the daughter of financier and MP Loel Guinness and his second wife, Lady Isabel Manners, the Duke of Rutland's daughter. Her father and mother divorced when she was nine. Her father later married Gloria Guinness (pictured at their home in Mexico)

Born in March 1941, Serena Belinda Rosemary Guinness, who painted under the name Lindy Guinness, was the daughter of financier and MP Loel Guinness and his second wife, Lady Isabel Manners, the Duke of Rutland’s daughter. Her father and mother divorced when she was nine. Her father later married Gloria Guinness (pictured at their home in Mexico)

Lindy married Sheridan Dufferin, her fourth cousin through their great-grandfather, Edward Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh. He was the son of Maureen, Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, pictured attending Royal Ascot in 1935

Lindy married Sheridan Dufferin, her fourth cousin through their great-grandfather, Edward Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh. He was the son of Maureen, Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, pictured attending Royal Ascot in 1935

Lindy trained under Grant at Charleston for the next 10 years. She was also taught by Oscar Kokoschka and Sir William Coldstream and studied at Byam School of Art, Chelsea School of Art and the Slade.

A passion for art united her and her husband, Sheridan Dufferin, her fourth cousin through their great-grandfather, Edward Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh.

The couple married at Westminster Abbey in 1964 in a ceremony attended by Princess Margaret.

After a honeymoon driving across America, where they were joined by the artist David Hockney, Lindy and Sheridan split their time between London and Clandeboye, her husband’s family estate 12 miles outside Belfast, where Sheridan’s widowed mother still lived. 

Lindy and Sheridan married at Westminster Abbey in 1964. Lindy wore a dress by John Cavanagh and the Dufferin and Ava shamrock tiara

Lindy and Sheridan married at Westminster Abbey in 1964. Lindy wore a dress by John Cavanagh and the Dufferin and Ava shamrock tiara

Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon were among the 2,000 guests who attended the nuptials

Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon were among the 2,000 guests who attended the nuptials

Lindy and Sheridan were leading lights in the London art scene. Sheridan spotted Hockney early in the artist's career and showed his work at the Kasmin Gallery, New Bond Street, which he founded in 1963 with John Kasmin (pictured looking at Hockney paintings in the gallery in 1966). For a brief period his sister Carolyn was married to the artist Lucian Freud

Lindy and Sheridan were leading lights in the London art scene. Sheridan spotted Hockney early in the artist’s career and showed his work at the Kasmin Gallery, New Bond Street, which he founded in 1963 with John Kasmin (pictured looking at Hockney paintings in the gallery in 1966). For a brief period his sister Carolyn was married to the artist Lucian Freud

His mother Maureen, one of the ‘Golden Guinness Girls’, ruled the roost. The highlight of her year was the annual black-tie dinner she gave for the Queen Mother which had to be perfect down to the last orchid. 

Together Lindy and Sheridan set about restoring Clandeboye, which had once hosted the future King George VI and the Queen Mother, to its former glory. 

At the same time the couple were leading lights in the London art scene. Sheridan spotted Hockney early in the artist’s career and showed his work at the Kasmin Gallery, New Bond Street, which he founded in 1963 with John Kasmin. For a brief period his sister Carolyn was married to the artist Lucian Freud. 

Lindy had her first exhibition in 1971 at the Harvane Gallery, London, and went on to show in Belfast, Dublin and Paris. She possessed a range of styles and was particularly fond of painting her herd of pedigree cows.

Lindy and Sheridan split their time between London and Clandeboye, her husband's family estate 12 miles outside Belfast, where Sheridan's widowed mother still lived. Pictured, the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at Clandeboye in 1924

Lindy and Sheridan split their time between London and Clandeboye, her husband’s family estate 12 miles outside Belfast, where Sheridan’s widowed mother still lived. Pictured, the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at Clandeboye in 1924

She had painted extraordinary landscapes during lockdown.

Lindy and Sheridan delighted in hosting parties at their Holland Park mansion in the late 1960s and 1970s. ‘We used to give endless parties,’ she told W magazine in 2009. ‘They had this kind of innocence and openness about them. There was no sort of formality.’

The knack for hosting continued at Clandeboye, where Lindy hosted everyone from Prince Charles to Van Morrison.

Sheridan died from an Aids-related illness in 1988 aged 49, leaving his 2,000-acre estate to his wife. 

Following his death, Lindy continued her work on the estate, planting a memorial garden to her husband; opening the Ava Gallery and a golf course and building up the cow herd. 

The Marchioness hosted the annual Clandeboye Festival at Clandeboye. Thirty years ago she invited environmental group Conservation Volunteers to establish its first Northern Irish branch on the estate. Pictured, at an art exhibition in London in 2013

The Marchioness hosted the annual Clandeboye Festival at Clandeboye. Thirty years ago she invited environmental group Conservation Volunteers to establish its first Northern Irish branch on the estate. Pictured, at an art exhibition in London in 2013

The cows, who she affectionately called the ‘ladies’ produce Clandeboye Estate Yoghurt, on sale in supermarkets across Ulster and Ireland, which keep the estate solvent. The tubs are printed with one of Lindy’s landscapes.

The Marchioness hosted the annual Clandeboye Festival at Clandeboye. Thirty years ago she invited environmental group Conservation Volunteers to establish its first Northern Irish branch on the estate.  

There is now a forest school where local children are taught about wildlife.  

Clandeboye will now become become a foundation for conservation and education, as per her wishes. At the time of her death Lindy was planning another exhibition.

The cause of her death is not known.  

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