Langtrees was named after Lillie langtry (1853 – 1929), the famous high-society Victorian beauty. Mary-Anne pinched the lithograph of Lillie from her grandfather. When she was trying to think of a name for her new bordello, an exhausted Mary-Anne looked up at Lillie’s picture and said “Come on, give me a hand!” Although Lillie didn’t answer, Mary-Anne took her surname anyway. Langtrees was born.
Mary-Anne discovered two years later that she had spelt the name of the brothel incorrectly. Lillie was not available for comment.
The lovely Lillie was a much admired English actress. It was rare for a woman of such high social standing to appear on the stage at the time. Known as “the Jersey Lily” on account of her beauty and her birthplace, she toured the United States with her own theatre company and performed in Britain and South Africa, For a time she was the mistress of the Prince of Wales, who later reigned as King Edward VII. The Prince publicly acknowledged her as his lover, a most unusual step for a member of the royal family.
Lillie refused to live her life within the boundaries imposed on women by Victorian society.
Not content to just be a pretty face, Lillie was an astute businesswoman with wide ranging financial interests. She mixed with influential men on their level, started a winery in America and owned racehorses.
Lillie was a busy girl with a big fortune. A bit like Mary-Anne perhaps?