She explained: “The way I was brought up was very different. When I did go back to my mother, just after marrying, when I was pregnant with Charlie, she said: ‘You married him. You go straight back and you make the very best of it you can.’ And I’m very glad I did and the children are very glad I did.”
Anne was just 23 when she and Colin married at St Withburga’s Church in Holkham. After their wedding, Lord Glenconner took his virgin bride to watch strangers have sex in a Paris brothel; when invited to join in, she said: “That’s very kind, but no thank you.”
From then on, Anne endured an extremely volatile marriage which saw her suffer physical, emotional and verbal abuse at the hands of her husband. During the 55 years, Anne bore his five children and was spat at, kicked and had objects thrown at her.
While Lady Glenconner admits to experiencing moments of “vivid happiness” with her husband, he was also repeatedly unfaithful and incredibly violent. Early in their marriage, he told her: “I’m going to break you, Anne.” 66 years later, it is clear he failed.
Angered by anything and nothing, Colin’s rage came about from the smallest of triggers: if Anne didn’t open a door quickly enough, or struggled with his luggage, which she was made to carry because he claimed not to be strong enough. It was like having another child, “but a particularly large, disruptive one,” Anne wrote, detailing a lonely and exhausting existence.
Once, during a holiday on Mustique, he dragged her out of their daughters’ birthday party and beat her so severely she nearly died — Anne has been deaf in one ear ever since. She was left bloodied and barely conscious on the floor when he returned to the party, where he told a friend: “I’ve just given Anne a thrashing.”