What’s the connection between
Lady Diana and Reningelst (Poperinge - Belgium)?

In Reningelst there lived relatives of
 Lady Diana

by Willy Tillie, Archives’ keeper of Poperinge

When on Sunday the 31 August the media announced that Lady Diana was killed in a car accident in Paris everyone was very surprised. The whole world responded with disbelief and papers and magazines were full of biographies.
The first time Lady Di hit the headlines was on the occasion of her engagement to Prince Charles, the British heir to the throne. We got to know her as a frail infant teacher who still felt a bit strange when she stepped out of her Metro Cooper at the schoolgate. Everyone immediately thought of a fairy-tale marriage come true between a poor little school teacher and a rich prince. Nothing was less true! Lady Diana Frances Spencer (1961) came from a noble family and she even has grand, aristocratic personalities such as John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough and famous general during the Spanish Succesion war (1700 - 1713), as one ofher ancestors.
In a Resolution book in the town archives of Poperinge (SAP nr. , fo.86) we learn among other things that this Duke of Marlborough forced the people of Poperinge to deliver 59 horses during a skirmish with the French in 1708. If not, Poperinge could expect "to be treated to all the cruelty of a war". This bold general was a member of her paternal family. It is getting even more interesting when we examine Diana's table of descent of her genealogical register. In such a chart one looks for the four grandparents, the eight great-grandparents, the sixteen great-great-grandparents, etc... Anyone who is somewhat acquainted with British history comes across famous names time after time: kings such as Charles II (1660-1685) and Jacob II (1685-1688), lots of Members of Parliament and politicians. (i.a. Robert Walpole who was the first Prime Minister of England between 1721 and 1742 and Winston Churchill (1874-1965), Prime Minister of Great Britain during the Second World War; officers such as admiral Seymour, a contemporary of Nelson; bankers such as Edward Charles Baring, manager of the Bank of England.
So Lady Diana wasn't the Cinderella the yellow press wanted us to believe at first.
I was most surprised when a visitor to the town archives viz. Mr Jean-Marie Bulteel (
U), pointed out to me that Lady Diana appeared in his family tree and that there were family connections with the Lord of the manor of Reningelst. The matter intrigued me that much that I went looking for a relation between Lady Diana and Reningelst. A few months later I learned that Mr Bulteel, my most important source and informant, had died unexpectedly. Fortunately he also gave me, a part from the very interesting article 'Lady Diana Spencer' by Van Eijk H.H.W. in the magazine ‘Gens Nostra’ (Volume XXXVI, July-August 1981, nr.7/8, p.213-234), some stray notes concerning family data.
The very simplified scheme below shows us that Louisa Emily Charlotte Bulteel was the great-great-grandmother of Lady Diana.

Edward Charles Baring (U1897) x Louisa Emily Charlotte Bulteel (1828-1892)
Director of  the Bank of England
Charles Robert Spencer (1857-1922) x Margaret Baring (U1906)
Albert Edward John Spencer (1892-1975)
Edward John Spencer (1924-...)
Lady Diana Frances Spencer (1961-1997)

One branch of the Bulteel family was proprietor of the manor Reningelst from the beginning of the 17th century to the beginning of the 18th century. On June 4 1608 Charles of Longueval sold the manor to Jean Baptiste Bulteel. This purchase was extremely interesting, in view of the fact that Jean Baptiste Bulteel’s ancestors had also been in the possession of the territory the Clytte since the 16th century. The Massiet family obtained Reningelst by the marriage of Marie Cornelie Bulteel, last heir to the Lords of Reningelst, to Pierre Franois de Massiet in 1727.
Still another branch of the Bulteel family had fled to England in the course of the 16th century because religious troubles then prevailed upon our region. It is in that family that we are to search Lady. Diana’s great-great-grandmother, Louisa Emily Charlotte Bulteel (1828-1897) was the daughter of John Crocker Bulteel of Flete and Lyneham. As we can conclude from the several additions to this family name, the Bulteels had gone quite far in Great Britain. It was Louisa who had married Charles Baring, Baron Revelstoke, manager of the Bank of England.
Louisa's sister, viz. Marie Elisabeth Bulteel, had been maid of honour to Queen Victoria (1819-1901) and her husband was private secretary to the Queen.
That the British Bulteels hadn’t forgotten their distant family relations with the Lords of Reningelst is proved by the followwing event. When Reningelst was heavily bombarded during the German Offensive near Kemmel in March 1918, the tomb-stone of the family Bulteel in the church of Reningelst got badly damaged. Lieutenant-Colonel 'The Right Honorable' Francis Bingham Mildway M.P. (Member of Parliament who later inherited the title of Lord Mildway of Flete) of the 27th Division of the British Army, son of Georgina Frances Bulteel, had the tomb-stone transported from Reningelst to Great Britain. After restoration it was placed against one of the capital pillars of the church in Reningelst.
Georgina Bulteel was the sister of the great-great-grandmother of Lady Diana.
In behalf of the family freaks we close this short article on family relations between Lady Di and the Lords of Reningelst with the incomplete paternal table of descent of Lady Diana.

Spencer Frederick (1798-1857)
Seymour Adelade (1825-1877)
Baring Edward
Bulteel Louisa Emily Ch.
Hamilton James
Curzon Mary Anna
Bingham Georges

Spencer Charles R. (1857-1887) x Baring Margaret (U 1906)

Hamilton James (1869-1953) x Bingham Rosalina (1869-1958)

Spencer Albert E (1892-1917)    x Hamilton Cynthia E. B. (1897-1972)

Spencer Edward John (1924-...)
x Roche Ruth Burke Frances

Lady Diana Frances Spencer

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