George was born in Clee near Grimsby Lincolnshire on 14 th Oct1855. His parents, James and Eleanor, had moved from Wexford to Grimsby for work, James taking a job as a Customs officer. George was one of 8 children, James, Matthew, Patrick, Christine, John and the twin daughters Ellie and Minnie. The brother John was later to become "The Major" in Ogbourne Maizey.
Edwardes did not perform well in school and when the time came to leave and find employment the family sent him to London to cram for the entrance exams for an Army career, which he failed. However, he lodged with a Jewish diamond merchant, Mr Isaacs, who was to remain a lifelong friend and backer to George in his later career. George`s cousins were Irish theatre managers John and Michael Gunn, who owned the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin and by coincidence he met one of them, Michael Gunn, at the time when he had failed his exams and was looking for work. They asked him to manage one of their touring companies with a show called "The Lady of Lyons". This opened the door to the world of the theatre for George.
Having completed the tour George took a job as box office manager to Richard D`Oyly Carte at the Opera Comique in the late 1870`s. D’Oyly had just enlisted the services of Gilbert and Sullivan for his theatre. George helped to produce several of their famous comic operas. During this time, he added the "e" to his surname. He also met his future wife, Julia Lavinia Gwynne [Gwynnie] although at the time she had a boyfriend and it would be some time before they became romantically involved. Julia became a principle player at the Opera Comique. D`Oyly Carte, building on his successes built the Savoy Theatre and George moved there in 1881.
In 1885 Edwardes succeeded John Hollingshead as manager at the Gaiety Theatre, producing the burlesques in which the Gaiety specialised. In 1886 Hollingshead retired and George bought his share of the Theatre with money lent by his old friend Mr Isaacs. From then on the Guv'nor (as Edwardes came to be known) was in charge, with the assistance of the theatre's star player, Nellie Farren.
George and Julia were married on 9th July 1885 at the Catholic Church Maiden Lane and they honeymooned at the West Cliff Hotel Folkestone. The family house was 6, Park Square Marylebone where they moved in on 28 th September 1886. The couple produced four children: Dorothy (b. 1886), D'Arcy (b 1888), Norah (b 1894) Alice (b.1895).
George continued to have great successes; he brought the Can-
Edwardes produced shows at other theatres as well. In 1892, he took over the Prince of Wales Theatre and produced Gilbert's His Excellency at the Lyric Theatre. He also became manager of the struggling lt Empire Theatre , London, and transformed it into a music hall before it became associated with several successful ballets under the composer-
Wishing to build his own theatre he bought a site in Cranbourne Street but overreached himself as he had to come to a financial arrangement with a Mr Augustus Daly (an American Impresario) to enable completion to take place. Because of this the Theatre was named "Daly`s". Eventually he bought Daly out but by then the name had stuck. The shows at Daly's had more coherent plots and more romantic music specifically composed for the plot of the piece, rather than a collection of topical popular songs. They were more like musical comedy than their Gaiety Theatre siblings, the more review-
The glamorous Gaiety Girls were, as The Sketch noted in its review of The Geisha in 1896, "clothed in accordance with the very latest and most extreme modes of the moment." Many of the best-
Edwardes also used the Apollo Theatre for several musicals and as his success grew, he needed another theatre and added the Adelphi Theatre to his chain of musical houses. There he produced a series of musicals by Lionel Monckton, amongst others. Other theatres included Lyric and the Empire Theatre of Varieties. Edwardes was a founder member of the Society of West End Theatre Managers.
In 2017 the The Music Hall Guild of Great Britain and America placed a "Blue Plaque" on the Hampstead house of Edmund Payne (14 December 1863 – 15 July 1914) who was a leading comedian and singer best known for creating many comic roles in a series of extremely successful plays for George Edwarde's Gaiety theatre. ( see the Wikipedia entry for Edmund ).
George enjoyed horseracing, and on 15th April 1901 he bought Ogbourne Maizey Manor. He now owned his own stables and horses and was helped by his brother John (The Major). There was also a stud in Ireland. His colours were Turquoise with white chevrons. His biggest winner was San Toy ridden by Rickaby which won the Ascot Gold Cup in 1901. A feature of his tenure in Ogbourne were the parties held at the Manor, where the villagers turned out to admire the retinue of beau-
In April 1907 Edwarde’s daughter Dorothy married Cuthbert Sherbrooke and George moved into a new London town house -
Although Edwardes left valuable properties, he was also heavily indebted. His theatrical enterprises continued to operate under the guidance of Robert Evett, who managed to produce a number of hits over the next few years, notably the highly successful The Maid of the Mountains and The Boy, that paid the estate debts.
His son Major D`arcy Edwards 1st Royal Dragoons inherited the estate. However on 10th July 1916 he was killed in action at Mametz Northern France close to St. Omer. With the state of the finances the family sold up their properties in London and moved permanently to Ogbourne Maizey.
In 1916 Norah married Paddy Hartigan, the new trainer, and moved into "Bonita" -
Gwynnie Edwardes died in 1934 and Dorothy and Cuthbert moved to "The Cottage" close to the Manor. They continued to run the farm for several more years. The Manor house was sold to Mrs Hall and the sub-