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Leeds Castle News21 February 2021

The People of Leeds Castle – Dorothy Wyndham Paget

Born on this day (21st February) in 1905, Dorothy Paget was the younger sister of Leeds Castle’s last former owner, Lady Baillie. Dorothy was loud and outspoken, and was expelled from several of her schools during her childhood. She finally attended a finishing school just outside Paris that was run by two Russian emigres. It was here that she met her lifelong friend and companion Olga.

Dorothy had inherited the same immense wealth that Lady Baillie did, and was a constant presence here at Leeds Castle when her sister was overseeing the renovations. She occupied the Turret Bedroom in the Castle when she was staying.

Instead of spending her money on a castle like her sister, Dorothy had inherited the Whitney family passion for thoroughbred horses, and owned several racing and stud stables. She became a highly successful owner and in her lifetime her horses won over 1,500 races. Her horses won the Cheltenham Gold Cup seven times, her best horse Golden Miller winning it five years running from 1932-1936. Golden Miller also won the Grand National in 1934, the only horse to date to win both trophies in one year.

Dorothy was a difficult person to work with. She preferred to sleep during the day and work at night so her staff and trainers had to get used to being available at all hours. She refused to call her staff by name, instead allocating them colours. From 1935-1939 Dorothy was one of the biggest race course gamblers in Europe.

She was also passionate about motor car racing and in the 1920s had financed the team of supercharged Bentleys created by Tim Burkin.

Despite her difficult nature she was capable of great charitable acts. She built a retirement home for Russian emigres outside Paris and also funded the Russian cemetery in the same town.