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I Once Met..Valerie Hobson. By Annette Page

Blog | By Annette Page | Feb 07, 2023

With husband, John Profumo, October 1954

On 16th October 1960, I was 16 and visiting London on holiday with my parents and younger sister.

We arrived at 4pm and went straight to 3 Chester Terrace, home of War Minister John Profumo and his wife, actress Valerie Hobson (1917-98), star of Kind Hearts and Coronets.

My great-uncle Stanley Brisco was their butler/valet, having gone to work for Mr Profumo before his marriage.

We went in by the mews entrance and Uncle Stan said he would show us round. The stairs led up to the hall, where I was surprised to see black and white floor tiles; everyone I knew was getting fitted carpets then. He proudly showed us the big walk- in wardrobe – everything neatly folded, with even the socks ready to slip on.

On the top floor was the nursery, with nanny sitting by a roaring fire with her foot bandaged up. Then back downstairs to the staff sitting-room to be introduced to the housekeeper and given tea and cakes.

At this point, Valerie Hobson returned and sat with us, having tea and chatting as if she had always known us.

She was an attractive lady with auburn hair, worn loose and quite curly for that time, and lovely skin. She then said she had a ‘magic cupboard’ upstairs and took my sister to choose a gift from it.

On coming back down, she said we must choose a show to see as her treat, and she would book it. And so, on 21st October, my family and ‘Brisco’ went to see a musical (The Most Happy Fella). Valerie Hobson also sent me various items from the state visit of the King and Queen of Nepal which had happened that week. She told my uncle that she realised she had not previously given anything to me – just to my sister. This kindness was typical of her.

I remember Uncle Stan pointing out Mr Profumo’s office window and saying, ‘He will either be Prime Minister or end up in jail.’ My father often pondered this statement!

Uncle Stan thought the world of ‘Madam’, as he called Mrs Profumo. She had won him round when she married John Profumo. He had intended to leave, saying he preferred to work for a male boss.

After the Profumo scandal, Uncle Stan went into ‘exile’ with the Profumos and we lost contact.

Annette Page