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Despite the crowded life she had led, evidence suggests that Nancy Astor's later years were at times quite lonely and lacking in some of the purpose that had once driven her.

Keeping busy

She tried her best to keep busy and began to travel during the late 1940s. She visited America repeatedly although often received bad press for the comments she made to the media. She also visited places such as Germany, Canada and Africa. Having played squash and exercised regularly throughout her life, in her later years she took up golf.

In the 1950 General Election, three of her sons – Bill, Michael and Jakie – were all standing as candidates and she gave a speech in Michael's constituency of Surrey East as part of his campaign. Despite his initial concerns and although she improvised a lot of it, the speech was a success and a fleeting moment of recaptured fame for her. She began writing an autobiography too – although it was never completed.

Rift with Waldorf

Her resignation as an MP had caused a rift between her and Waldorf and for some years they lived apart – her in London and Kent and him at Cliveden. The tension between them eased in his final decline and she missed him once he was gone. Speaking after his death she said: "Waldorf was no good without me and alas, I am no good without Waldorf" and "These last 7 years have been heart-breaking……how it makes me grieve for the years wasted."

By 1954 she had five grandchildren and enjoyed spending time with them. Reports state that, while her friends were reading the papers, she would let her grandson William pull her around the garden in the trolley that was attached to his fairy cycle, otherwise known as 'The Astor Express'.

In 1959, at the age of 80, she was delighted to be made a Freeman of Plymouth.

A final chapter

Shortly after visiting her son Bobbie in hospital in 1964 after one of his failed suicide attempts Nancy went to stay with her daughter Wissie. When she arrived, on 18 April, she had a stroke and was put to bed.

As she began to slip away and her family took it in turns to visit her bedside she called out for Waldorf. She died on 2 May 1964 at the age of 84. Her ashes were buried with his at Cliveden. Her legacy lives on in Plymouth.

Nancy Astor in her later years playing golf at Cliveden
© Plymouth City Council (Arts and Heritage)