Concern is growing for the safety of Constance Dorothea Marten (born 1987) who disappeared with Mark Gordon and their two-day-old child after abandoning their car on the M61. Miss Marten is a great-granddaughter of the 3rd Baron Alington.
The couple abandoned their burning car on the hard shoulder of the M61 and fled – an aristocrat, a sex offender, and their baby, born just one or two days before. From the inferno near Bolton, thought to have destroyed all their belongings, they travelled first to Liverpool, then to Harwich in Essex, to Colchester and on to East Ham station in east London, over the course of two days.
That blurry CCTV footage from 7 January, 2023, is the last confirmed sighting of 35-year-old Constance Marten, the heiress’s face wrapped in a red scarf, her baby swaddled inside her coat. Alongside her is 48-year-old convicted rapist Mark Gordon, his head covered and bowed away from the camera. Police, concerned for the health of the baby, have been searching for the couple, but they are thought to have with them a large amount of cash, allowing them to stay off the grid.
So just how did Marten, whose father was a page of honour to Queen Elizabeth II, go from gracing the pages of society bible Tatler to being on the run with a man who, after burgling and raping a woman as a teenager, spent 20 years imprisoned in Florida before being deported to Britain?
Marten’s father, Napier Anthony Sturt Marten (born 28 March, 1959) points to an estrangement that began when his daughter met Gordon, tearing her away from family and friends to embark on an itinerant life. Making a heartfelt plea to Constance through The Independent newspaper, Napier – his voice wavering with emotion – told his daughter: “Darling Constance, even though we remain estranged at the moment, I stand by, as I have always done and as the family has always done, to do whatever is necessary for your safe return to us.
Constance is a granddaughter of the Hon Mary Anna Sibell Elizabeth Marten, OBE, (nee Sturt), who died at Crichel, Wimborne, Dorset, 18 January, 2010, aged 80. She was a a scion of the extinct Barons Alington (dau of the 3rd Baron), & was a goddaughter of HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother & was a close friend of the Queen & Duke of Edinburgh; she was born in London 12 September, 1929, as the Hon Mary Anna Sturt, dau of the 3rd Baron Alington (1896-1940), by his wife the former Lady Mary Sibell Ashley-Cooper, dau of the 9th Earl of Shaftesbury, KP,GCVO, sometime Lord Steward to the Household of King George V & Queen Mary, by his wife Lady Constance Sibell Grosvenor (d 1957), a great friend of Queen Mary, dau of Earl Grosvenor, and sister of Bendor, 2nd Duke of Westminster, &c. Her marriage to Lieutenant-Commander George Gosselin Marten, MVO, DSC, RN, son of Vice-Admiral Sir Francis Marten, KBE, CB, CMG, CVO, took place at Holy Trinity Church, Brompton, 25 Nov 1949. He was an equerry to King George VI, and the marriage was attended by King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duchess of Kent, Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone and Major-General the Earl of Athlone. The Hon Mrs Marten was High Sheriff of Dorset in 1989.