Tuesday 3 November 2015

Death of Andrzej Ciechanowiecki, celebrated philanthropist, art collector & historian and anti-communist / WWII resistance figure.

Deeply saddened to learn of the death in London yesterday of my friend, and (in my youth) my great mentor in matters nobiliary and chivalric, the celebrated philanthropist, anti-communist agitator, art historian and collector, Andrzej (Andrew) Ciechanowiecki (1924-2015), Knight of the Order of the White Eagle (Poland's highest honour, the equivalent of the Order of the Garter) and Grand Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta. [Andrew held more Orders than almost anyone I knew]

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Andrew spent several weeks living with my grandparents (he and his parents were very old family friends). Having fought in the Underground Home Army in the Warsaw Uprising 1944 and escaping deportation to Siberia, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1952 by the Polish communist governement for allegedly assisting British, American and Vatican spies.

Released after 6 years, he eventually arrived in the UK and became an extremely successful art dealer, most notably co-owning the Heim Gallery on Jermyn Street. He remained a Londoner, spending his final years in a beautiful flat on Mount Street off Berkeley Square.

Andrew's collection grew so large (he had one of the finest collection of bronzes) that he founded the Ciechanoweicki Foundation at the Royal Castle in Warsaw to hold much of his collection. Andrew played a huge role in obtaining art and furniture to fill the palace following its post-war reconstruction. He also curated several important international exhibitions of Polish art and treasures, largely self-funded the construction of a church on the outskirts of Krakow and also helped fund a wing of the University of New Mexico.
Andrzej Ciechanowiecki (seated) with members of the Ciechanowiecki Foundation 
at home at his flat, with some of his celebrated bronzes visible behind.
Very active in anti-communist international relations, Andrew was a friend of Pope John Paul II and many heads of formerly reigning royal houses. He was also extremely active in dynastic and confraternal military-religious orders.

Andrew was one of the most decorated men I knew. Wikipedia lists the following Orders:

Order of the White Eagle (1998)
Order of Polonia Restituta Grand Cross (25 February 1993)

Grand Cross of the Order of St. Gregory the Great (Vatican)
Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour & Devotion, Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Grand Cross of Order Pro Merito Melitensi
Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic
Commander of the Order of the Polar Star (Sweden)
Grand Decoration of Honour in Silver for Services to the Republic of Austria.
Commander of the Order of Merit of Senegal
Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
Officer of the Legion of Honour (France)
Order of Friendship of Peoples (Belarus)
Order of Francisc Skorina (Belarus)

Dynastic Orders
Grand Cross of the Order of St Januarius (Two Sicilies)
Bailiff Grand Cross of Justice of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George with Collar (Two Sicilies)
Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Francis I (Two Sicilies)
Gold Medal of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George (Two Sicilies)
Grand Cross of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (Savoy)
Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the House of Savoy (Savoy)
Gold Medal of Merit of the House of Savoy (Savoy)
Knight of Justice of the Order of Saint Stephen (Tuscany)
Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Joseph (Tuscany)
Grand Cross of the Order of St Andrew (Imperial Russia)
Grand Cross of the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky (Imperial Russia)
Grand Cross of the Order of St. Anna (Imperial Russia)

Bust of Andrzej Ciechanowiecki 

Honorary Doctorates:
University of Warsaw, Poland (1991)
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, USA (1992)
Belarusian State University, Minsk (1993)
Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland (2009)

In addition he was:

Honorary Professor of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, member of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Honorary Member or Life Member of many learned societies both foreign and Polish, FSA, member of the Board of Trustees of the Royal Castle in Warsaw, member of the Board of the (Countess) Lanckoroński Foundation, Council Member of the Princes Czartoryski Foundation, the Counts Raczyński Foundation, and the Polish Historical & Literary Society in Paris (SHLP), chairman of the Polish-Belarusian Bilateral Commission for the Conservation of the National Patrimony.

However to his English friends, who could not pronounce his surname "Ciechanowiecki" he was simply "Chicken and Whisky".

The funeral will be at the Brompton Oratory.


Saturday 7 February 2015

Release of My Book: "A London Peculiar: The London You Missed"

I am pleased to announce that my book, A London Peculiar: The London You Missed, is now available to order from most good bookshops (in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia & New Zealand).  

Come on a fascinating journey through a London less explored and discover some of the most unusual and intriguing hidden gems to be found in the city. 

To "Look Inside" the book, please click on this link and you will be taken to Amazon's website:

A London Peculiar shines a light into London's secret corners, revealing a remarkable array of little-known curiosities, many of which are published here for the first time. 

Highlights include:

* James Bond's London - where to dress, dine and drink like Ian Fleming and James Bond 

* The terrifying cell in which the Knights Templar were imprisoned 

* London's only lighthouse 

* London's smallest and oldest houses 

* The "Birthplace of America" 

* The exclusive shops that supply the Royal Family 

* The pub frequented by Jack the Ripper's victims 

* The church that was used by the KGB for Cold War espionage 

* The street that is home to the world's oldest hat,wine, tobacco and barber shops 

* The alleyways in which Charles Dickens dined and in which he set Scrooge's counting house 

* The Seven Noses of Soho 

* London's strangest museums 

* Fences made from Second World War air raid stretchers 

* The rose garden in which Shakespeare set the start of the War of the Roses.  

A London Peculiar is an insider's guide that will entertain those who have never been to London, those who are seasoned visitors and those who call London home.

To order A London Peculiar or "Look Inside", please click here: