Archibald Ormsby-Gore

Archibald Ormsby-Gore

Archibald Ormsby-Gore, better known as Archie, was the teddy-bear of English poet laureate John Betjeman. Together with an elephant known as Jumbo, he was a lifelong companion of Betjeman's.

Betjeman brought his bear with him when he went up to university at Oxford in the 1920s, and as a result Archie became the model for Aloysius, Sebastian Flyte's bear in Evelyn Waugh's novel "Brideshead Revisited". In the 1940s, Betjeman also wrote an illustrated a story for his children, entitled "Archie and the Strict Baptists", in which the bear's sojourns at the family's successive homes in Uffington and Farnborough are fictionalised. Archie is here described as a member of the Strict Baptist denomination, riding a hedgehog to chapel, and enjoying amateur archaeology, digging up molehills, "which, he considered, were the graves of baby Druids". A version of the story with illustrations by Phillida Gili was published as a children's book in 1977.

Betjeman also wrote a poem "Archibald" in which the bear is temporarily stuffed in the loft for fear of Betjeman appearing "soft" to his father.

Archie and Jumbo were in Betjeman's arms when he died in 1984.


*Betjeman, John (1977). "Archie and the Strict Baptists". London: John Murray.
*Waugh, Evelyn (1945). "Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder". London: Chapman & Hall.

Other Sources

* [ Introduction] to an exhibition on Betjeman at the Bodleian Library
* [ "Betjeman: a "whim of iron"] , article by Brooke Allen in "The New Criterion"
* [ Advertisement for a facsimile] of Betjeman's original version of "Archie and the Strict Baptists".

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