Ah, the nobility -- our betters. We've seen Downton Abbey, we know how they roll: all genteel, with their cucumber sandwiches and pantaloons, droppin' honorifics like a motherfucker. Not all of them are as subdued and proper as you'd think, though. There's a fine line between "eccentric duke" and "poop-smeared psychopath," and the following folks skipped gaily across that line, only occasionally checking in to pop a squat on the sanity side before skittering back into full-blown madness.
5The Prince of Silence Would've Very Much Liked to Be Invisible
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His proper name was William John Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck (1800-1879) of Nottinghamshire, England. His proper title was Marquess of Titchfield, fifth Duke of Portland, but you could call him the Prince of Silence. Or Bill. Or, preferably, nothing at all. Although rumored to have a disfiguring skin disease or deformity, it seems more likely that Bentinck just hated being near people, or was perhaps winning the most epic game of hide and seek ever played.
As evidenced by his formal portrait.
The only person who was regularly allowed to see him was his valet. Bentinck wouldn't even permit a doctor to examine him; shouting from behind a locked door, the doctor would ask the valet questions, and the valet would call back an answer to the best of his ability. Amazingly, this technique seemed to have worked, since Bentinck lived to the ripe old age of 79 ... for all anybody ever knew, at least.
In the event that servants did encounter Bentinck, they were instructed never to acknowledge his existence and to walk by him "as if he were a tree." Bentinck himself would make that easier by retreating to the wall and pretending to be a statue. Those who failed to ignore him or play along with his statue game were instantly dismissed.
Which explains why this was titled "Photo of Stacked Chairs."
The Prince of Silence might have had an easier time avoiding people if he hadn't been constantly adding to his home, Walbeck Abbey. He spent lavish amounts of money and employed thousands of workmen at a time. One project was a magnificent riding house of immense size, which was stocked with over a hundred horses and lit by 4,000 gas jets. When roller skating became popular, he had a rink built, expressly stating that his employees should enjoy it as often as possible. Aw, he just wanted people to be happy!
... because happy people are content; they do not come looking for the Prince of Silence.
We're not saying this guy was a ninja, just that he was totally qualified.
His main construction efforts were focused underground, though. Fifteen miles of tunnels were constructed, some large enough to drive a carriage through. There was also an underground library, a billiards room, and an observatory fitted with a glass roof. A vast subterranean ballroom was built, complete with a hydraulic lift capable of carrying 20 people. Why a man who shunned humanity like a Milford Academy alumnus would create a room specifically for parties, nobody knows. The labyrinthine tunnels connected to the house and grounds above via trapdoors so Bentinck could wander without risk of encountering anyone. To relay orders, an elaborate system of mailboxes was used. Also: Every room and tunnel was painted bright pink.
All right, we're calling it: Bentinck was Prince's great-great-great-grandpa.