Rude Britannia

Prior to adopting the ‘Millington’ moniker, Mary appeared under a variety of pseudonyms in glamour magazines throughout Britain and Europe. In her will – which she wrote in March 1977 – Mary listed no fewer than eight aliases; there were actually a further two she’d left off the list and, additionally, for some early-1970s modelling shoots she was credited by just her first and middle names – ‘Mary Ruth’.

Mary married butcher Robert Maxted in April 1964, but she only occasionally used her married name for commercial work. However, for whatever reasons, by the mid-1970s, she began using ‘Mary Maxted’ for the majority of her modelling and film assignments. This was a potentially risky move, especially since her married name was somewhat unusual, and by losing the anonymity of a false name, she suddenly became ‘public property’. Already well-known in her home town of Dorking, Mary’s fame had gradually begun to spread further afield. This was compounded in 1975 when Mary did a series of photo-shoots for Town & Country Publications (known as ToCo), using her legal name, and printed with accompanying articles which pin-pointed her location to Surrey.

Mary MillingtonToCo had been publishing nudie magazines since the early 1950s. The Croydon-based company specialised in pin-up photos of the readers’ wives variety; their two landmark titles were the cheekily-named Spick and Span. This perky pair occasionally merged for seasonal specials called Spick & Span, and popularised the image of the girl-next-door posing in nylon stockings in achingly suburban settings. G-Plan sideboards, chinzy sofas and heavily patterned wallpaper became as much a trademark of the magazines as the semi-clad ‘dollies’ themselves. The models’ coy poses and naive smiles endeared the digest-size magazines to a regular readership of several thousand fans; in fact, Spick and Span proved so popular that in November 1955 ToCo launched a sister publication entitled Beautiful Britons. Dubbed as the magazine of ‘eye appeal’ the first editorial promised readers a ‘magazine of photographic art concerned with extolling the world’s most photogenic women – the beauties of Britain together with lovely ladies from any points of the compass’.

Beautiful Britons No 238Measuring just 7 inches by 4.5 inches, and priced at an affordable 1/6, Beautiful Britons continued ToCo’s trend for black and white pictorials of local girls (predominantly from the Home Counties and London) posing semi-clad in frilly underwear, bent over their settees. The new title’s editors actively encouraged submissions from readers and some of the content was distinctly homemade in origin, although their star photographer was actually prolific snapper Ken Howard. In the summer of 1975 Mary’s ToCo pictures made their debut in Spick #261 and Span #252 (both August 1975) and the following month she appeared in full-colour on the front cover of Beautiful Britons (#238). In all these issues she is credited as ‘Mary Maxted from Surrey’, a ‘country girl’ who loves horse-riding and plenty of ‘fresh air’. Rather revealingly, the Beautiful Britons issue also tells readers that Mary can be spotted in London working ‘with an escort agency’. Surprisingly, this information was 100% accurate; Mary had been working, sporadically, as a high-class prostitute in the capital since 1971. In June 1976, Mary returned to the cover and centrefold of Beautiful Britons (#247). Here she was credited as ‘Mary Maxtead’, no doubt a simple typographical mistake, but misleadingly the editorial now stated she was living at a ‘little place near the Thames’. However, the magazine does make reference to Mary being chatted up by a Sheik in the Far East, which may be a veiled reference to the fact that Mary had been sleeping with several wealthy London-based Arab businessmen for money.

Beautiful Britons No 247Ironically, it was Mary who directly contributed to the demise of ToCo. Mary met her future-boyfriend, and publisher, David Sullivan in February 1975; they became lovers and Sullivan swiftly installed her as the main attraction in his stable of magazines. The all-new ‘Mary Millington’ made her debut in Private (#21) and Whitehouse (#7) in July 1975. Sullivan’s titles were, at the time, the most explicit girlie mags on the market and their infamous ‘spread-legged’ approach sounded the death knell for more sedate home-grown glamour magazines. Sadly Spick, Span and Beautiful Britons couldn’t compete with their ruder rivals and all three ToCo titles folded in the autumn of 1976. It was the last we’d see of Surrey nature-lover Mary Maxted, but it was just the start for the legendary Mary Millington.

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