Cold Call: Sally Chatterton rings the Marquess of Bath

HEREDITARY PEERS aren't having an easy time of it in the House at the moment. One such peer is the Marquess of Bath. He is rumoured to be a colourful, slightly mad chap. Perhaps it is because his days as a peer are numbered, but he was monotone when we spoke. He lives at Longleat, which he uses as a gallery for the display of his "neo-expressionist" art, and which serves as a glamorous backdrop for his polygamist lifestyle - he is alleged to have scores of "intimate friends" or "wifelets", whom he refers to as his family. He might claim that he does this in the name of altruism, but I think he enjoys having it all. However, I was ringing about another aspect of his life.

Do you consider yourself to be a redundant figure in the House?

Hereditary peers have to go. There isn't justice in it. There isn't social justice in someone inheriting a right to power, to government, to sit in the House and pass laws over your fellow men. I just cannot condone it.

Why did you take up the seat in the first place, if it represents something against which you are vehemently opposed?

I took up my seat because I don't believe in unilateral disarmament. If the other hereditaries are giving up their power, I am very happy to do so, too. I wouldn't be happy to say that I won't stay and then leave them all there.

Will your not making appearances in the Lords make any difference to your routine?

I go perhaps once a fortnight? Once a week? Once a fortnight. So, well, not much difference. I have given speeches, though, and I do obey the three-line whip.

What do you do when you're not being a peer?

I am a writer and a painter. I also run a tourist industry at Longleat. There is masses for me to do here. I've actually got a very full timetable and I don't think for a moment that I will be unoccupied when we go.

You are often referred to as an eccentric. Do you consider yourself to be one?

No, I never have. I preach individualism. If you have to give a name to what I preach.

Can you reconcile individualism with the collectivist nature of your polygamy?

Polygyny, I prefer to call it. I believe in a collective world. I believe in a collective universe. But the only way you can get that collectivism to work is by giving respect to the individual.

I'm curious as to the logistics of the "polygyny". How does it work?

I think I should keep out of my personal life. I should practice what I preach.

You reject the "system" with your bohemian, unusual lifestyle, and yet you are firmly rooted in the establishment through your peership. How do you reconcile the two positions?

There has to be a starting point in all evolution. I was born into a stately home with quasi-feudal powers. I am trying to find a way into the democratic society which is already in existence.

What if by some strange quirk, you were democratically re-appointed to the House. Would you take it up?

Well, I'd certainly consider it. It would depend how much time I'd have to take off my writing and painting. I'm not an idle person. If you were down here you would be amazed by the quantity of work that I've put in my life. But you'll just have to take that on trust.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future