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The Flying Duchess

By Linda Tancs

Woburn Abbey has been the home of the Dukes of Bedford for nearly 400 years.  As with any historical manor, the stories of its occupants over the centuries are what bring it to life for contemporary guests.  In the case of Woburn, the ladies of the house are just as compelling as their male counterparts.  Take, for example, Mary Russell, wife of the 11th Duke.  In the spirit of our modern era Amelia Earhart, she embraced aviation and flew record-breaking flights from Kent to India and later Cape Town.  An ill-fated flight in 1937 resulted in her plane washing ashore near Great Yarmouth; her body was never recovered.  Her adventurous spirit is reflected in the Flying Duchess’ Room at the Abbey.

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