- By John Connolly, George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum
On a lovely spring day in 1885, two gentlemen sat on their horses near the statue of Achilles by Richard Westmacott in London’s Hyde Park. The gentlemen were well acquainted. Hugh Cecil Lowther, the Fifth Earl of Lonsdale (1857-1944) and Sir George Chetwynd, (1849-1917) were both sportsmen and moved in similar circles. Both men were waiting to meet someone—Lillie Langtry. The famous actress had accidentally agreed to ride with both Hugh and George on the same morning. And in the absence of a graceful way of escaping the predicament, Lillie had simply stayed home.
Both men soon discussed their situation and were dismayed to find they were waiting for the same person. And in short order, both men argued, then came to blows for Lillie’s affections, despite the fact that both men were married, and it was widely known that Lillie was the mistress of the Prince of Wales. When their horses bolted from under them, the gentlemen continued their fistfight in the dust. It didn’t go well for Lonsdale, as Sir George managed to headlock Lonsdale before both men were separated—bloody and swearing. London was full of the news of the fight, and to add insult to injury, Queen Victoria summoned Lonsdale to personally express her displeasure with his conduct.