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Laurance Holman’s diaries and his horse Mariana

2013 March 16
bedford Square

11 Bedford Square – confusingly in Montague Place – where Laurance Holman lived and worked

I have just heard that my proposal for a paper on the diaries of Laurance Holman has been accepted for the Unofficial Histories conference being held in Manchester in June.

Originally from Stockton on Tees, via Blackpool, Laurance, an advertising businessman, artist and one time vice – president of the London Sketch Club, lived and worked in London for many years before his death in 1950. His flat and business was in Bedford Square, at the back of the British Museum.His unpublished diaries, particularly for the war period, are fascinating. They include daily entries specifying meals, prices, leisure activities,overdraft and business contracts. However, my main interest has been in the accounts of his daily rides with his horse Mariana through Hyde and Regent’s Park or through the streets of central London to view bomb damage. As he notes on Thursday 19 September 1940: ‘Last night was the worst “Blitz” so far: went 11 to 1 for a ride around the damage: saw John Lewis, D.H.Evans, Selfridges but not Peter Robinsons: last night my “M.G” was within 100 yds of a house demolished in Woburn Sq and “Mariana” was about the same distance from a crater made in Wimpole Street’.

His relationship with the horses he rides, Mariana and then Trump, changes over the years. My attitude too, towards Holman, has developed since my first reading of the diaries, as I will also explore in the conference paper.


8 Responses Post a comment
  1. graham lewis permalink
    August 28, 2013

    As a young man I worked for L.H. at his advertising agency in Bedford Square.
    First from Easter 1944 to June 1946 then conscription and again on leaving the army in 1948 until shortly beore his death in 1950. It was a small agency but had some solid clients. My particular job when I started was carrying stereos from the office Fleet Street and distributing them to various newspapers. After I left the War Office and reurned to civilian life late in 1948 L.H welcomed me back and when after two years I decided to broaden my horizons and my experience he waved me of with the comment “I hope in your new job they understand your little peculiarities.” I never found out what they were but what I learned from he and his company stood me well in the years to come.

    • Hilda Kean permalink
      August 28, 2013

      Thanks so much for this, Graham. I would love to talk to you offline about Holman since I have not yet tracked down anyone who knew him! I have found you in his diary for February 1950 when you left, he says, to go to Reid-Walker. You were apparently replaced by Miss Engel who had left and come back again. Laurance thought that she and you had not gone on with each other in the past!

  2. Mike Clack permalink
    February 20, 2015

    Don’t know whether this is the same company which my father (Dennis Clack) worked for?
    Back in the 40s and 50s, my father worked for a Holman Advertising which was based in Bedford Square, central London. He left in 1958. He was #2 to a Mr Hassler I believe.
    Is this the same business?
    Why I ask is that I am trying to track a cutting of an old advertisement from a client Holman advertising had during the war years. My father was in the RAF and sent back a photo of himself smoking a pipe to his boss. He thought it was so good, he got an illustrator to make a drawing and it was used in one of Holman’s clients’ advertisements – a pipe tobacco company.
    I have the original photograph and also the original picture the artist illustrated.
    Mike Clack

    • Hilda Kean permalink
      February 23, 2015

      Yes this is the same company. I have checked my notes and have found reference to your father – which I will send offline.
      Amongst other things Holman praised him for his work on the Don Garcia contract, giving your father £5 and 20 cigarettes as he went on his summer holiday in August 1947!

  3. Lucy Morris permalink
    May 6, 2018

    I think he was married to my great aunt Gwendoline Munro Holman

    • Hilda Kean permalink
      May 9, 2018

      Thanks for your email. This sounds the same as the woman Laurence describes in his diary. I will write to you – off the website – about this.

  4. Richard Medway permalink
    June 11, 2019

    I recently sold Laurance Holman’s Sussex house. I wonder if the house is mentioned in his diaries and whether the horse made it to the countryside….?

    • Hilda Kean permalink
      June 13, 2019

      Thanks. I did not see the details of the house mentioned in Holman’s diaries, rather the removal dates etc. The horse he started to ride in
      Sussex was not his own horse but borrowed from a friend. Similarly when in London at Bedford Square he used for a few years the friend’s horse, Mariana, who would die because of various problems. (The article about Mariana can be found in the recent Palgrave Animal Biographies book.)

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