Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Tara Browne: A life in print

Tara Browne was one of 'Swinging London's' golden children; destined for a life of luxury, a real-life Percy Thrillington.

I thought it was time to try and accumulate a history of Tara Browne in the printed media, so, starting in 1963 and continuing chronologically, here it is;

Saturday, December 28, 1963

We begin with the birth of young Dorian Browne, photographed in his Grandmother’s arms, recorded in the ‘William Hickey’ society gossip column of the Daily Express. The column was named after an eighteenth-century memoirist and was first launched in 1928 by Tom Driberg the homosexual Labour MP and possible MI5 informant and KGB agent. Driberg kept many dubious friendships including Aleister Crowley, the Kray Twins and Lord Boothby.

Driberg, however, had nothing to do with the column by the sixties and in this article Tara talks of the christening held in Dublin: “Everything went very well and Dorian behaved himself. I think he will have to get used to travelling. He is so nice that we cannot bear to be parted from him.”

Thursday, October 22, 1964

Saturday, March 6, 1965

Then along came Julian. Here we are told that: ‘“We’ll all be going to Ireland soon” said Nicky. “I’ll probably get someone in to help with the children. But I certainly shan’t have a nanny – I’m very anti them.”

Father Browne is learning to become a racing-car mechanic at a Bayswater garage. He had his 20th birthday on Thursday.’

Tuesday, March 16, 1965

You are going to have to take my word for this as even the highest resolution scans have proved insufficient to retain a readable text, but this advert from The Times of March 16, 1965 tells us that the Honourable Tara is flogging off his finest furniture at an auction in Belgrave Square.

Now I don’t know about you, but when I was twenty years old I barely had a pot to piss in let alone sufficient fine furniture to sell at auction, so, was this his to sell? Is this sale relevant? We shall see.

Thursday November 18, 1965

Brings us another article about the fragrant Irish farmer’s daughter – every article mentions that she is the daughter of an Irish farmer – Nicky Browne, again in the William Hickey column. 

Here, and just eight months after the birth of her second son, Nicky is in Marbella, Spain arranging to screw two old locals out of their property in order that she can open a boutique: ‘“It is a delightful old house” she said, “and the Spanish family are really delighted to be moving into something more modern.”’

I’ll bet they were, I bet they were also “really delighted” at being patronised by the rich, work-shy, foreigner as well.

Later the article adds: “While she is in Marbella Mrs Browne will be looking at villas in and around the village so that her two baby sons, Julian and Dorian, and her husband will have somewhere to stay when they visit Marbella.”

Well, that seems only fair, after all these blue bloods couldn’t possibly be expected to rough it in a hotel with the common people could they?

All of which begs the obvious question, just who is looking after the children? It certainly wasn’t the doting father Tara as he was otherwise engaged in Paris shagging Amanda Lear at the time. I doubt, likewise, that they will be with a nanny as Nicky has already told us “I’m very anti them.” Be that as it may they would be bloody handy for palming the kids off onto when one wishes to bugger off to Spain to open a boutique!

Just who is paying for the boutique and the villa, I wonder? As well, of course, as Tara’s jaunts to Paris, his ‘garage in Bayswater’ his AC Cobra, his Lotus, his tailoring business, Dandy fashions and a £20,000 house in Belgravia?

Tara’s trust fund – because we all have one of those, don’t we? – wasn’t due to pay out until he was 25 so did all this come from the furniture sale or was young Tara accumulating a healthy debt?

We shall fast forward to October 66 – just two months before his death – when things get really interesting.

Friday, October 14, 1966

Tara and the kids have gone AWOL. 

It seems that Tara had taken the two boys off to Ireland for a well-deserved holiday – because gallivanting around London and Paris in fast-cars is such hard work! – when word got back to Nicky that the Oranmore and Browne’s had sacked the nanny. Now, whilst Nicky may have been anti-nannies she clearly had no objection to the kid’s grandparents employing one to do the job she should have been doing herself. 

Rather than going to the police and Interpol she does what anyone would do in her situation, she engages the services of the celebrity solicitor David Jacobs. Jacobs, whose clients include Marlene Dietrich, Diana Dors and Brian Epstein, would, like Epstein and Tara, fail to see out the decade, he did, however, succeed in making the Browne kids ‘wards of court’. This means that the children become guardians of the court and, as such, all decisions concerning their upbringing are made by the court or its appointed representative.

However, it turns out that the villain of the piece is not Tara but his mother.

Saturday, October 15, 1966

None of this appears to have been resolved though when, on December 18, 1966, tragedy strikes.

Monday, December 19, 1966

Tara Browne, heir to a Guinness fortune, had everything in the world to live for.

He was tall, fair-haired and handsome and his polite, gentle and unassuming manner made him as popular as he was envied.

His wealth provided him with the fast cars he loved and a £20,000 house.

He enjoyed the friendship of the rich and the famous, he loved pop music, he loved visiting his family’s lakeside mansion home deep in Ireland’s Wicklow hills.

But in his 21 years Tara also knew unhappiness.

His mother, Lady Oranmore and Browne, 56, has been married three times.

Her marriage to Tara’s father, Lord Oranmore and Browne, was dissolved when Tara was only five.

Her third marriage, to Cuban dress designer Miguel Ferraras was dissolved last year.

Tara fought bitterly when he was thirteen against the wishes of his parents that he should attend Eton. But he had to go.

And his own marriage to Irish farmer’s daughter Nicky Macsherry collapsed earlier this year.

The couple had been married secretly, in France in 1963. After the break-up Tara left his home in Eaton-row, Belgravia and lived in hotels.

He was devoted to his two children, Dorian, three and Julian, 18 months. Nearly every weekend he flew to Ireland to visit them and his mother at the family home.

As a boy Tara loved photography. One of his favourite tricks was taking pictures of celebrities at his mother’s parties and selling them to newspapers for their gossip columns.

This summer his 21st birthday party at the family home in Luggala was the sparkling social event of the year.

His close friends Mick Jagger and Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones were there. So was John Paul Getty junior.

The Lovin’ Spoonful group was hired for the night and hundres of guests danced to beat music until six in the morning.

Tara, who was once interested in being a racing driver, planned just before his death to open a boutique in London.


Tara Browne, the 21 year old Guinness heir killed in a car crash yesterday, may have died saving the life of his girl companion – lovely photographic model Suki Potier.

Nineteen-year-old Miss Potier, who played one of the girl friends of James Bond in the film “Casino Royale,” had an amazing escape.

Mr Browne, due to inherit £1 million in four years’ time, died soon after his 120 mile-an-hour light blue Lotus Elan sports car hit the back of a parked van in Redcliffe Gardens, Chelsea, London.

He had extensive head injuries. The car was wrecked.

Last night as Miss Potier recovered from shock at her home in Victoria Grove, Kensington her father said: “I am sure this young man died saving my daughter’s life.”

Mr Gilbert Potier a 48 year-old chartered accountant said: “My daughter told me that Tara was not going fast. Suddenly a white Volvo saloon shot across in front of them. My daughter said Tara swerved to the right so that the impact would come on the right-hand side of the car and not where she was sitting.”

He added: “It was a most courageous thing to do. As far as we know the Volvo did not stop.”

It was the second time in less than 10 days that one of Mr Potier’s daughters had had a fantastic escape. His elder daughter, Sarah, 20, escaped without a scratch when her car landed on its back in a field in Northern France after hitting a lorry.

Mr Potier said: “Suki had known Tara for a couple of months. There was no romance.”

The first person at the accident spot was Mrs Maggie Postlethwaite, a fashion model who lives in Redcliffe Gardens.

With her children’s Australian nurse, 25-year old Avis Becker she wrapped Mr Browne in travelling rugs.

Mr Browne, who died later in hospital, had lived for the last three weeks at the Ritz Hotel. The gay, fun-loving heir was parted from his wife Nicky, whom he married secretly in France in 1963. He loved fast cars, discotheques and parties – and had not a care in the world, or so it seemed to the casual observer.

The son of Oonagh Guinness and her second husband, Lord Oranmore and Browne, he wore his blond hair long and turned up at important functions in exotic attire.

But at heart he was a shy boy. People who met him in Ireland – on his rare visits there – were impressed by his quiet spoken, modest manner.

Mr Browne had a garage business in London and was also partner in a Chelsea boutique. He was busy making arrangements to open another boutique.

But the boy who had everything also had a secret sadness. A friend said: “He was very upset about his marriage trouble. He worshipped his two children.”

Friday, December 23, 1966

Here the Irish Times provides us with some detail about Tara’s funeral, news of which escaped the UK press. One can only imagine what the conversations were when Nicky encountered Tara’s mum – ‘give me back my f*****g kids’, or words to that effect – and Suki Potier – ‘were you shagging my f*****g husband you bitch’ – sadly this was not reported!

The next detail we get comes from the inquest reports; the very inspiration for the song ‘A Day in the Life’. The Irish Times provides the most detail.

Thursday, January 5, 1967


Blonde model Suki Potier clasped dying Guinness heir Tara Browne in her arms.

And that was the first she could remember after blacking out during a car crash, an inquest jury was told yesterday.

But she could remember incidents just before the crash – especially a mystery car “appearing from nowhere.” Police have not been able to find the driver of the car, believed to be either an E-type Jaguar or a Volvo, the jury was told at Westminster.

Tara Browne, 21, died from brain injuries after his Lotus Elan sports car, in which Miss Potier was a passenger, hit a stationary van in Redcliffe gardens, South Kensington on December 18.

Blonde Miss Potier said she and Tara left a restaurant at about 11.50 p.m. and drove “not very fast” down Earls Court road into Redcliffe gardens.

“Suddenly I saw this white car coming at the crossroads” she added.

“I think it was going fairly fast and it did not seem to slow down at all. It went behind us. Tara swerved to avoid the car, we hit something and I blacked out.”

She went on: “There would have been a collision with the white car if Tara had not swerved – and I think I would have been killed.”

Pathologist Dr Donald Teare said that Mr Browne had drunk only from half-a-pint to a pint of beer.

The jury gave a verdict of accidental death.

Wednesday, January 11, 1967

There was a memorial service held on this day for Tara.

Shortly after the memorial service we are able to pick up the pieces of the missing Browne children.

Tuesday, January 17, 1967


The two young children of 21-year-old Guinness heir Tara Browne, killed when his sports car crashed in London before Christmas, are to stay with their grandmother 56-year-old Oonagh, Lady Oranmore and Browne.

A High Court judge yesterday turned down a plea by the mother, 24-year-old farmer’s daughter Mrs Noreen (Nicki) Browne, that she should have care and control of Dorian, aged three, and Julian, 21 months.

But Mr Justice Cross said “every effort should be made to let her play an increasing part in their lives.” They should also remain wards of court.

Mrs Browne claimed the children were “spirited away” by their grandmother three months ago and in October made them wards of court and started an action to try and get them back.

Tara, from whom she was estranged, and his mother, who lives in Eire, were both named as defendants.

The private hearing was halfway through when Tara – due to inherit £1 million when he was 25 – was killed.

Mr Justice Cross decided that the hearing should continue and announced his judgement in a statement to the press.

Now readers may have noted a soupcon of barely contained contempt for the ‘farmer’s daughter’ running throughout this commentary (frankly, if you hadn’t then this blog is clearly not for you!), however, to lose your husband and then your children within the space of a month is simply horrendous. So one wonders precisely what evidence was presented in order that this judgement was arrived at. Clearly money talks and in this country, and perhaps even more so in the sixties, so does your breeding, but for a judge to think that these two young children would be better served remaining in the care of a woman who effectively kidnapped them beggars belief.

However, we are not privy to the evidence, nor are we granted an insight into the mental state of Nicky Browne at that time and so we shall never know. One wonders if it may have been implied that Nicky had something to do with Tara’s accident. For sure, she had a motive.

Whatever, by the end of the month she was leaving London, and her kids, behind for the sunshine of Spain.

Monday, January 23, 1967

Monday, May 22, 1967

Perhaps emboldened by Nicky’s Spanish sojourn Granny Guinness gets her face in the papers by parading young Dorian at a family christening.

Wednesday, June 21, 1967

The ever informative Irish Times provides us with detail on the size of Tara’s wealth at the time of his death. That family furniture sale was clearly highly rewarding!
Perhaps buoyed by the information concerning his wealth we find a Daily Mail article that reports that Nicky is planning on moving back to London in order to obtain some of the Guinness loot.

Monday, December 9, 1968
Sadly you will not be able to read the print but, essentially, it amounts to a plea to Oonagh for funds. The two boys by this stage are being educated in Paris.

Fast-forward another two years and we find that not only was Nicky successful on her trip to London in securing some dough but that she also snared herself a new fella as well.

Wednesday, November 11, 1970

Monday, October 1, 1973

Sadly, the pursuit of Tara’s money rumbles on and on. By 1989 we find a court ruling finally granting Dorian and Julian access to the trust fund that should have become their father’s in the early seventies, had he lived.

Wednesday, November 22, 1989

It would appear that this was not the end of the matter though. From 1991 we have this.

Wednesday, March 20, 1991

A year-and-a-half after the award was made to Julian and Dorian they find that the fund that was worth £1 million in 1967 has dwindled to some £30,000. The remainder apparently pissed away in a never ending spiral of lawyer’s fees. 

Whilst I can’t shed any tears at rich people wasting money I couldn’t help but notice the mention the Castle Trust Company in the article. I don’t think this has anything to do with the Bahamas based, CIA drug fund, Castle Bank and Trust but one can never be sure!

Wednesday, February 19, 1992

These trust fund battles weren’t consigned merely to Tara however, brother Garech seems to have had to fight the same battles himself. More mentions here of Castle Trust Company.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Back to the Irish Times for our finale and a wonderfully detailed obituary to Nicky.