Harlaxton Manor - Violet Van der Elst

Scope and Content

A collection of newspaper clippings, photocopies, copies of photographs relating to the life of Violet Van der Elst, in particular her years at Harlaxton Manor (Grantham Castle), 1937-1948.

Administrative / Biographical History

Violet Van der Elst was born in Feltham, Middlesex. Birth name: Violet Anne Dodge; second marriage was to Jean Van der Elst. Composer, artist, traveller and psychic.

In 1937, following an advertisement of Harlaxton Manor's imminent demolition, the house was purchased for £78,000 by the eccentric self-made millionaire, entrepreneur and social campaigner, Violet Van der Elst (1882-1966). A committed campaigner against the death penalty, Mrs. Van der Elst had a fascination for the occult, regularly conducting séances in an attempt to contact her dead husband.

Mrs. Van der Elst renamed the Manor, Grantham Castle and spent a fortune renovating, modernizing, and furnishing it. She introduced electricity, and purchased the enormous chandelier which still exists in the Great Hall. She adored statuary and added the lions which can be seen in the Front Circle and what is now called the Lion Terrace to the rear.

By 1948, after the war, Mrs. Van der Elst lost interest in the Manor. She auctioned interior contents, and sold the house and 500 acres to The Society of Jesus (Jesuits) for use as a novice centre.


  • vde/1 Violet Van der Elst - Newspaper clippings, mainly 1930s-1940s
  • vde/2 Violet Van der Elst - Writing and Compositions
  • vde/3 Violet Van der Elst - Mitchell collection
  • vde/4 Violet Van der Elst - Husband, Jean (Jack) Julien Romain Van der Elst
  • vde/5 Violet Van der Elst - Contents Sale Catalogue
  • vde/6 Violet Van der Elst - Gerald Phizackerley (great nephew)
  • vde/7 Violet Van der Elst - Memories of staff and visitors
  • vde/8 Violet Van der Elst - Posthumous writings
  • vde/9 Violet Van der Elst - Charles Neilson Gattey
  • vde/10 Violet Van der Elst - Descendants of brother, Samuel Dodge

Access Information

By appointment

Archivist's Note

Record added by Linda Dawes, College Librarian, March 2017


Ongoing collection

Related Material

Harlaxton Manor Archives (2016), Story of the Manor, Van der Elst era https://harlaxtonmanorarchives.wordpress.com/story-of-the-manor/van-der-elst-era/