Sir Robert Anthony Eden

Sir Robert Anthony Eden was born on 12th June 1897 at Windleston Hall, near Rushyford in County Durham. He was the third of the four sons of Sir William Eden and Sybil Frances Grey.

Born into a wealthy family with estates in County Durham and Northumberland, Eden had to suffer the indignity of speculation from the chattering classes, that he was actually the son of Victorian statesman George Wyndham to whom he bore more than a passing resemblance. The speculation was suppressed when it was revealed that Wyndham was overseas in South Africa at the time of conception.

Eden’s childhood at Windlestone Hall was somewhat isolated, with a distant father, more interested in his art than his children. Being educated by a private tutor compounded his isolation and he would not attend school with other children until he was ten years old, first attending Sandroyd School in Cobham in 1907.

For years later he would attend Eton College, arriving in the Lent term of 1911.

Eden left Eton and joined the 21st Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps in 1915 and served with distinction during World War I, being awarded the Military Cross for rescuing his wounded sergeant whilst under enemy fire.

Eden went on to serve as Foreign Secretary under both the Ramsey MacDonald and Winston Churchill governments.

In the election of 1951, Eden made the first televised election broadcast. It followed a precisely structured script, delivered in the style of an extremely deferential interview. Following the Conservative victory, Eden returned to the Foreign Office for a third term.

In April 1955, Eden became Prime Minister following the resignation of the octogenarian Winston Churchill.

Sadly, despite his long political career which saw record low levels of unemployment, Eden will be remembered for his handling of the  Suez Crisis. His premiership would end in 1957 when he resigned due to ill health.

Eden would later be elevated to the House of Lords, with the title of First Earl of Avon.

In January 1977 Eden died from liver cancer and was buried in St Mary’s churchyard in Alvediston.

Roads in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham and Durham City were named in his honour.

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