Filey's White Lodge Hotel unveils blue plaque to famous actress

Adrian Perry, Kim and James Hodgson, Mayor Jacqui Houlden-Banks and Dorothy Houlden.
Adrian Perry, Kim and James Hodgson, Mayor Jacqui Houlden-Banks and Dorothy Houlden.

The efforts of a Filey hotel couple in securing a blue plaque for a famous resident of the town were praised at the unveiling ceremony.

The plaque to celebrate Victorian and Edwardian actress Dame Madge Kendal was unveiled by town mayor Cllr Jacqui Houlden-Banks, whose father was a previous owner of the White Lodge Hotel.

The plaque at the White Lodge.

The plaque at the White Lodge.

The hotel is now owned by James and Kim Hodgson who worked with Scarborough & District Civic Society to install what is Filey's third blue plaque.

The mayor told guests including Filey and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake: "My father would be delighted and proud of the current owners."

Adrian Perry, civic society chairman, said: "Without people like James and Kim who have the passion, we wouldn't have 20 blue plaques across the borough."

At the ceremony, James thanked supporters including Paul Riley of the civic society and local expert Catherine Welsh: "Madge Kendal had spent 50 yers in the West End and was friends with George Bernard Shaw, Bram Stoker - who visited Whitby to research his Dracula novel - and she is featured in the National Portrait Gallery."

Guests at the ceremony.

Guests at the ceremony.

He announced that a conference room at the hotel will be named in honour of Dame Madge.

Dame Madge and her husband William owned what is now the White Lodge Hotel from 1896 while they were managing the St James Theatre in London.

She continued to perform on the London stage in the 1890s to the acclaim of critics and was reunited with friend Ellen Terry in a 1902 production of The Merry Wives of Windsor.

In 1886 Madge befriended John Merrick, known the Elephant Man. As a consequence, Madge achieved the status of a character in Bernard Pomerance’s 1979 play and in the 1980 film of the same name where she was portrayed by Anne Bancroft.

Dame Madge died aged 87 in 1935.

The historical theatre connection has been maintained by Kim and James with twice yearly sell-out theatre dinners. The next production will be Going Green by David Tristram on October 31 and November 1.

James and Kim held their wedding reception at the hotel in 1994 and bought it in 2015.

The two other blue plaques in Filey are for Charlotte Bronte, author of Jane Eyre, and Herbert Liddell Cortis, the first cyclist to achieve a speed of 20mph on a penny farthing, in 1882.