A Lady with a Plan

Descended from British and French aristocracy, Veronica Levett-Scrivener is an entrepreneur never short of an idea. Having brought up four children, two of which have learning difficulties, as well as launching her own businesses, Veronica is not afraid to try new things. This cheerful, mildly self-deprecatory but get-up-and-go attitude, combined with an innate Britishness and unrelenting self-assurance, is what makes Veronica a great example of the modern English ‘lady’. An expert at all things related to British etiquette and an educated historian, Veronica is also an experienced side-saddle horsewoman, a burgeoning gemmologist, and has recently signed to a modelling agency. What more could she fit in, asks lady.co.uk

You have a fascinating family history

'Like Danny Dyer I am a descendent of the Angevin dynasty, The Royal House of the Plantagenets, through the marriage of Matilda daughter of Henry 1 to Geoffrey Plantagenet Count of Anjou.  The Plantagenets were replaced by the Tudors in 1485 after Richard 111 lost the Battle of Bosworth Field to Henry Tudor.  His son Henry V111 and grand-daughter Elizabeth 1, need no introduction.

My grandmother Lily Levett-Scrivener was a Chilean, whereas the English side of the family is very traditional, old and landed, with lots of Kings, Ambassadors and Knights. But the Chilean side has made me a trader and entrepreneur by nature!'

How did you start out as an entrepreneur?

'I started my first business when I was at Durham university, importing jumpers from the San Lorenzo market in Florence, and " cold selling" them in offices in London, outside the library in Durham and in chalets in Verbier. In the 90s I started to build a buy to let portfolio and then created a company called Heavenly Property with a friend. It meant that I could pay the school fees, yet have time to be a full-time mother. I would often be on a horse, on my mobile whilst discussing the next deal. The credit crunch changed the market overnight.  It was not a housing crisis but a banking crisis that affected all markets. 

I started More Than Good Manners in 2008, creating bespoke tours, teaching British manners and etiquette to Chinese, Russian and Japanese clients.

I have always loved selling, whether it's a jersey or a house! I decided to set up a retail arm to More Than Good Manners called So Very British and a friend of mine, Jane Pryor, is now my business partner. It started with a keen interest in jewellery, going to local auctions and buying antique rings and brooches. The range has now expanded to include vintage clothes, side saddles, antiques and bygone kitchenware, hunting whips, gloves and hats.  Basically, everything that is quirky and quintessentially British!'

Your family all ride, and side-saddle too

'I'm a country girl at heart, horses play a big part in my life. Although i do love getting dressed up fro a party - especially if there's a good band to dance to!

One of my ambitions was to learn to ride aside (side saddle) and I've hunted and shown riding side saddle, but my daughters Florence and Agatha are far more accomplished side saddle riders, in particular Aggie has excelled in the hunting and showing world riding aside. All of my four children ride well and all are pony club and hunt members.' 

What are your thoughts on being a quintessentially well mannered 'English lady'?

'One of my Chinese guests, a very elegant lady dressed in Dior and Chanel, could not comprehend that English ladies like to smell of horses, to wear clothes covered in mud and horse muck, to wear old waterproof coats and a silk head scarf, (ie. the lovely photograph of the Queen in the rain at Windsor this week with her beloved horses) 

My car smells of horses, horse feed, horses tack, and horse muck and may be some evidence of dogs as well. The Chinese lady took one look at my car and said " You no lady your car dirty!" I explained that in Britain that the dirtier your car the smarter you are, her reply was " you liar".  My mother thinks this story is very funny, she has been promoted to The Dowager Lady of the Manor since my father’s death and has enjoyed hosting some of the Chinese guests.

You are not a lady just because you dress in a certain way, or talk properly, it is all about how you treat others. Making them feel comfortable, even if they don’t know how to hold a knife and fork correctly, after all, perhaps you don’t hold your chopsticks correctly.  Good manners are more than a set of superficial rules, it is all about innate consideration for others.' 

What's next?

'I am not good enough to earn a living dancing, or riding or anything really, but what I am really good at is being me... and that means I just keep on thinking up another idea…'