In 1894 Princess Alix of Hesse, the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, stayed at Cathcart House, a boarding house in Harrogate then owned by a Mrs Allen. The princess travelled to Harrogate, under the name of Baroness Startenburg, to take “the cure’”in the town’s famous baths as a treatment for her sciatica. It was while the princess was staying there that Mrs Allen gave birth to twins, a girl and a boy. The princess took their arrival as a good omen for her forthcoming marriage to the then-Grand Duke Nicholas – soon to become Tsar – and she asked to be godmother to the twins and that they be named Alix and Nicholas. Afterwards she maintained a close relationship with her godchildren and regularly sent them gifts. In 1911, a tea-party was attended by Empress Marie of Russia; Queen Alexandra, former Empress of India; King Manuel of Spain; Prince Christopher of Greece; Princess Victoria and the Grand Duchess George of Russia. Princess Alix, who became the Tsarina Alexandra, was murdered along with her family by the Bolsheviks in July 1918. A.A Thomson MBE wrote an autobiographical novel called ‘The Exquisite Burden’ about his upbringing in Harrogate. It was set in Mexborough Hall, which was a disguise for Cathcart House.