Henrietta Russell, Duchess of Bedford

Henrietta Russell, Dowager Duchess of Bedford (born Henrietta Joan Tiarks; 5 March 1940) is a landowner and horse breeder, and the widow of Robin Russell, 14th Duke of Bedford, with whom she lived, at Woburn Abbey. Until her husband succeeded to the Dukedom in 2002, she was better known as the Marchioness of Tavistock.

The Dowager Duchess of Bedford
BornHenrietta Joan Tiarks
(1940-03-05)5 March 1940
London, United Kingdom
Spouse(s)Robin Russell, 14th Duke of Bedford
IssueAndrew Ian Henry Russell, 15th Duke of Bedford
Lord Robin Loel Hastings Russell
Lord James Edward Herbrand Russell
ParentsHenry Frederick Tiarks III
Ina Florence Marshman Bell

Family background

Henrietta Joan Tiarks was born in London on 5 March 1940,[1] the daughter of Henry Frederick Tiarks III (born Woodheath, Chislehurst, 8 September 1900 – died Marbella, 2 July 1995), a merchant banker with Schroders, and Ina Florence Marshman Bell (born London, 5 November 1903 – died Marbella, 10 April 1989), an actress known as Joan Barry. Her parents married on 3 October 1936; both having been married previously.

The Arms of Henrietta Joan Tiarks as a maiden lady can be found at http://www.tiarks.co.uk/tiarks_23.htm

She is a granddaughter of Frank Cyril Tiarks and a relative of Mark Phillips.

Marriage and children

She married the then Marquess of Tavistock, Robin Russell, on 20 June 1961 at St Clement Danes in London, thereby becoming the Marchioness of Tavistock. He succeeded his father, becoming the 14th Duke of Bedford, on 25 October 2002, at which point Henrietta, became Duchess of Bedford. They had three sons:

Her husband died on 13 June 2003 aged 63 as the result of a stroke. They had already handed over control of Woburn Abbey to their eldest son Andrew, then Lord Howland, in 2001.

Media appearances

The Duke and Duchess appeared in three series of the BBC Two reality television programme Country House, screened from 1999 to 2002 detailing daily life at Woburn Abbey, the Bedfords' ancestral home in Bedfordshire, England.[2]

Her autobiography, Chance to Live, was published in 1991, and she appeared as a "castaway" on the BBC Radio programme Desert Island Discs on 3 May 1992.[3]

The 11th Duke of Bedford gifted Himalayan tahr to the New Zealand government in 1903 and 1909. Himalayan tahr are near-threatened in their native India and Nepal, but are so numerous in New Zealand's Southern Alps that they are hunted recreationally. A statue of a Himalayan tahr was unveiled in May 2014 at Lake Pukaki and dedicated by the Dowager Duchess of Bedford.[4]

Titles and styles

  • 5 March 1940 – 20 June 1961: Miss Henrietta Joan Tiarks
  • 20 June 1961 – 25 October 2002: Marchioness of Tavistock
  • 25 October 2002 – 13 June 2003: Her Grace The Duchess of Bedford
  • 12 June 2003 – present: Her Grace The Dowager Duchess of Bedford


  • (1991). Chance to Live. Headline. ISBN 978-0747203537.


  1. "Chic Vintage Bride – Henrietta Joan Tiarks". Chic Vintage Brides. Archived from the original on 11 August 2014.
  2. Bunyan, Nigel (24 July 2011). "Woburn Abbey staff sacked over chef 'dunking'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  3. "Desert Island Discs - Castaway : Henrietta, Marchioness of Tavistock". BBC Online. BBC. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  4. "Duchess of Bedford to Dedicate Tahr Statue" (Press release). New Zealand: Game and Forest Foundation. Scoop. 13 March 2014. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
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