Princes of Dreams

The life and times of Lydia Yavorska, Princess Bariatinsky

A new book by John & Jeannette Simpson


We live in Shoreham-by-Sea, and have been attending the beautiful Saxon/Norman church of St Nicolas’ Old Shoreham for many years. We are both PCC members and John is Treasurer to the PCC. In the churchyard is a most unusual monument, the grave of a Russian Princess, and we, like many others, were intrigued by it. We manage the church website, and a couple of years ago we resolved to find out something about 'our' Princess so that we could add a couple of paragraphs to the website. We started to research the life of Lydia Yavorska, Princess Bariatinsky (1871-1921) and very quickly realised it was a fascinating story.

We offered an audio-visual presentation about Lydia in September 2013 - it sold out immediately and we had to run it again in November. Although the presentation ran to an hour and a half, we were only able to include a fraction of the material we had found, so we decided that such a dramatic story deserved a book. Since then we have been continuing our research and recently visited St Petersburg, where Lydia had some of her greatest successes. Although our knowledge of Russian is fairly basic, we received tremendous support from our guide, Elena Parfënova - CLICK HERE for Elena's website. We also experienced great kindness and willingness to help from the staff of all the archives and museums we visited.

We have very recently uncovered new material relating to periods in the life of the Princess about which little was previously known. In pursuit of this we have visited Pallanza, Italy, and Tallinn, Estonia , and have been receiving additional details and photographs from Elena in St Petersburg. We have created a map with locations relevant to the Princess. It is a work in progress but you can see the latest version HERE.

The book is A4 format and runs to 350 pages. It is extensively illustrated (650 pictures), many from the considerable amount of memorabilia related to the Princess which we have amassed – photographs, postcards, press cuttings, books, theatre programmes, autographs – sourced from all over the world, and a lot of new material from our research trips.

We gave an updated version of the presentation on several occasions in autumn 2015, and most recently on 10 September 2016, to coincide with the 95th anniversary of Lydia's death.

Our Princess rests far from her native land, with no family to look after the grave. The book has the dual aim of ensuring that the grave is properly maintained and that Lydia's contribution to the English and Russian stage is not forgotten.


John & Jeannette Simpson

Princess Bariatinsky

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