Large Family Archive of the Benwell Rees – Family, including William Benwell Rees (brother to actor Benedict Cumberbatch’s grandmother Helen Rees, by marriage to British Diplomat Henry Arnold Cumberbatch, who was Consul in Romania, Turkey and Lebanon ). The archive includes at least one manuscript letter by Henry Arnold Cumberbatch and around one thousand documents chronicling the lives of the ex-patriate Benwell Rees family from 1890-1970 in Alexandria and Monaco, including William Benwell Rees, whose marriage to Etheldreda Blanche Barker cemented the family’s role in the highest circles of Alexandria life. The archive also charts their son Basil Rees’ decade in Monaco under Princess Grace and Prince Rainer III where he served as President of the British Association in the 1950’s-‘60s and solicited a letter written by Sir Anthony Arthur Duncan Montague Browne, on Winston Churchill’s behalf on Chartwell headed paper in which the former Prime Minister declined to attend an event in Monaco [signed by Montague Browne]. The archive is held in five heavy volumes, bursting with a plethora of amazing and wonderful historical letters, ephemera, emotional messages and telegrams, old images, theatre-programmes, and especially also includes programmes of plays in which ancestors of Benedict played (J.M.Barrie, Shakespeare etc.). The original letters and documents paint an interesting picture of Benedict Cumberbatch’s grandmother’s side of the family history in the Levant, their service in the Middle East and their social lives. The five volumes are bound in bespoke red morocco over textured paper-covered-boards and they contain at least one reference to Helen Rees next to a newspaper-clipping and dozens of wonderful handwritten letters and cards. Each volume about four inches across spine with title in gilt to upper cover and around 100 leaves in each with documents mounted recto and verso throughout, with photographs, invitations, business materials and clippings that chart the family’s life in their service for the British Colonial Office. The five Volumes include for example: Volume 1: The Benwell Rees’: begins with Egyptian Gazette, 1890 and a programme for a performance c1900 at the Port Theatre, Marina, Alexandria of Rumpelstilkskin; visiting cards and contemporary reports of the marriage of W B Rees and Etheldreda Blanche Barker in Alexandria, February 1901; Windsor Hotels prospectus and flyer (a WBR enterprise); 1913 Casino de Monte Carlo ticket for Ethel Rees; Kings School Canterbury ephemera and St Johns’ College, Cambridge for Basil Rees from 1920’s, graduated June 1924. Volume 2: The Benwell Rees’ Vol II, 1920’s-1990’s: includes J M Barrie, Quality Street programme for English Girls’ School, Alexandria, 1941; invitations from Princess Grace of Monaco etc Volume 3: Basil Rees Vol III, cover nearly detached, 1953- Basil Rees living at 2 Rue Origene, Alexandria, and covering period of move to Palais Majestic, Monaco after which he served as President of the British Association and his sudden death in 1967. Invitations to dinner and place settings with the Prince and Princess of Monaco. Birthday greetings; international stamp collecting societies. Photographic ‘Permis de Sejour’ for William Benwell Rees in Monaco, October 1918. Volume 4: Basil Rees Vol. IV Begins with telegram from Rees to the Queen; mostly very extensive formal correspondence concerned with Rees’ Presidency of he British Association in Monaco; invitations, notes, printed volume of Statutes of association from 1950, royal correspondence with Monaco and Britain. Volume 5: Basil Rees 4-5 1902 Vol II; William Basil Benwell Rees; Royal Navy ID card, British Forces, September 1943 – other material relating to Rees’ work as Duty Defence Officer at the Royal Navy Defence Base in Alexandria, HMS Nice. Volume begins in 1902 and includes Alexandria Dog Show, W B B Rees at Jesus College, Cambridge; Egypt NAAFI permits; lock of Basil Rees’ hair, aged 2 etc.
Alexandria / Monaco / etc., c. 1902 – 1967. Octavo. Half Morocco. Bindings stronger rubbed and slightly damaged.