As the official hotel for Portsmouth Pride, we have thoroughly enjoyed the LGBT+ History month posts from Portsmouth Pride celebrating key figures.
Accordingly we’d like to add our own favourite queer icon, Stephen Tennant.
He was a member of the so-called ‘Bright Young Things.’ They dominated the headlines in the 1930s due to their extravagant behaviour and Stephen was a British socialite known for his eccentric lifestyle.
In the post war years, he was a regular guest at The Queens Hotel. He was well known for holding court in the lobby, cutting quite a dash with his stylish flair.
In his book Serious Pleasures: The Life of Stephen Tennant ,celebrated local author Professor Philip Hoare, described how Stephen was a much loved guest at the hotel.
“The hotel was Southsea’s best, with its impressive marble pillared hall, and stained-glass domed ceiling. It had, like all of Stephen’s favoured hotels, a quiet hushed air of untrumpeted luxury.
“He would take one of the first-floor rooms, with a balcony looking out over the promenade and green of Southsea, its castle and cannons and strolling sailors.
“One of the porters at the Queens, Charlie Taylor, remembered Stephen sitting in the lounge, gazing at the dome: ‘When I first saw him he was wearing a long fawn camel coat and a pixie hood!’
Stephen quickly had the staff under his spell.
‘He used to have his hair done at the ladies’ hairdressers in town – brilliant blond – and he wore crocodile skin shoes. One day he was sitting in the hall, and called me over, and asked me to take them round to the shoe shop in Castle Road and get them dyed pink!’”
28th February 2023