Remembering Russian Royalty

This story was published on August 18 in the Shoreham Herald. Read the original story at]

[All images: John and Jeannette Simpson]

S33C Shoreham Princess 95th Anniversary 1
Postcard produced in England circa 1914 showing Lydia Yavorska in costumes she wore for the role of “Anna Karenina” which she made famous.

The 95th anniversary of the death of a mysterious Russian princess who lived in Shoreham will be marked at St Nicolas’ Church in Old Shoreham.

John and Jeannette Simpson have researched the story of Lydia Yavorska, Princess Bariatinsky, and have written a book about her.

The princess was a celebrated actress, theatre manager and fashion icon, a pin-up of her day, and she was also a suffragette, a fighter against injustice within Russia, and a fundraiser during WWI for refugees in Russia and Poland.

As a theatre manager she was a bold innovator who was not afraid to try out controversial plays, bringing authors such as Ibsen, Strindberg and Chekhov to the English stage.

She died in Hove and is buried in the churchyard at St Nicolas’ Church.

S33C Shoreham Princess 95th Anniversary 9
Lydia as the Duke of Reichstadt, son of Napoleon Bonaparte, in ‘L’Aiglon’ (The Eaglet) by Rostand

John said: “Her story cried out for a book to be written, and in the process of doing so we have found out so much about life in Russia in the period just before, and during the Revolution, and also the world of the theatre, in Russia, mainland Europe and England in the early 20th century.

“We have very much enjoyed the detective work, seeking out information with visits to St Petersburg in Russia, Tallinn in Estonia, and Pallanza in Italy, and have appreciated the kindness of the many people who have assisted us.”

Lydia as Ekaterina in Tolstoy’s play 'Resurrection'
Lydia as Ekaterina in Tolstoy’s play ‘Resurrection’

The anniversary of her death is being commemorated with a series of events at the church, to which all are welcome.

On Sunday, September 4, at 6pm, an Evensong service will be held, including commemorative prayers and a Russian Kontakion from the choir.

From 10am on Saturday, September 10, the church will be open for guided tours and a continuous slideshow about the life of the princess. ‘Princess of Dreams’, an audio-visual presentation about the life and times of Lydia Yavorska will be held on Saturday, September 10 at 7.30pm.

A new biography will also be launched during this event. Tickets are free and can be booked on 01273 454006 or by emailing

On Saturday, September 17, a ‘Concert for a Russion Princess’ will be performed by the award winning Brighton & Hove Russian Choir from 6.30pm. Tickets are £7 and are available at the church after Sunday services, or from Bookworms in Shoreham High Street, or The Red Lion Inn in Old Shoreham.

Find out more:

The Forgotten Story of Shoreham’s Russian Princess

Miniature card of Lydia
Miniature card of Lydia

1 Comment

  1. Nice story! You have such taste that not only give locals excellent reading material but also reach a wider overseas audience, and this is a distinctive mark of a great writer.

    Since you like Russian sagas, I have one suggestion: how about the rise and fall of Baroness
    Olga von Meyendorff ‘s family ? Her son wrote a book about the revolution and also served during WW2 in UK. It is worth a try.




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