Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Herry's Archive Index

Patrick Lawford 1914-2002
Annette Lawford 1911-1998
Family History
Lawford Family History
Pugh Evans Family History
Pugh Evans Family History - the Lovesgrove Line
The Powell Edwards Line
Lawford Ancestors
The Drapers' Livery Company
Edward Lawford 1787 - 1864
Edward Acland Lawford and his Descendants
HF Lawford 1851 - 1925
Maternal Grandparents
Sir Arundel Arundel 1843 - 1922
Col AJ Pugh 1871 - 1923
Marian 'Nina' Lady Herbert 1874 - 1967
Paternal Grandparents
John Lawford 1811 - 1875
Capt VA Lawford 1871 - 1959
Pugh Cousins
Brig-General Lewis Pugh Evans 1887 - 1962
Maj-General Lewis Pugh 1907 - 1981
Ruth Stevens Howard 1910-2010
Capt Humphrey Drummond of Megginch 1922 - 2009
Dr Griffith Pugh 1909 - 1994
Valentine Lawford 1911-1991
Luxmoore History
Wing-Commander Arthur Luxmoore 1909 - 1940
Fairfax Luxmoore
Herberts See also Sir Alfred Herbert
Sir Alfred Herbert 1866 - 1957
Nina Lady Herbert 1874 - 1967
Dunley 1917-1957
Wadwick House
Alfred Herbert Ltd
Lady Herbert's Homes and Garden, Coventry
Lady Herbert's Memorial at Litchfield
Sir Alfred Herbert on Shooting
Sir Alfred Herbert on Fishing
Sir Alfred Herbert's Memorial Service in the Cathedral 1957
The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry
The Church of St James the Less, Litchfield

Patrick Lawford's Farming Career
Headbourne Worthy 1934-1938
Litchfield 1938-1946
Danegate 1946 - 1950
Stocks Farm 1950 - 1970
The Shooting Book
Stocks Farm 1970 - 2002
Obituary: Ernie Stiles 1941 - 2014

My Parents' Friends
Friends 1950-1970
Friends 1970 -1980s
Friends 1990s - present
Sally Macpherson 1940 - 2012
Nick Duke 1945 - 2013
Richard Shaw 1940 - 2103
Venky Venkiteswaran 1941 - 2013
Jo Johns (Joanne Taylor) 1939 - 2014
Annie May 1944 - 2014
Lucie Skipwith 1942 - 2014

Early Memories of Home Life
A Short History of Tractors in Hampshire
Schools 1949-1967
St Ronan's 1953 - 1958
Winchester College 1959- 1964
Engleberg Winter 1963
Early Social Life 1950-1970
Early Encounters with France
Early Experiences of Banking
The Pubs of our Youth
The Cars of Our Youth
Herry's European Tour 1967
What Did We Wear?
Careers in the 60s
10 Shouldham St 1967-1993
Thomas Miller 1967-2006
Herry's Wedding to Prue Watson 1971
Watson Family
Harvestgate Farm 1971-1982
Ramatuelle and the South of France
Friends 1970 -1980s
24 Edna St 1993 - 1998
Futatsumori Family
Cap Ferrat and Les Azuriales
The Orangery 1998 - present
Swanage and the Dorset Coast
The Family in Sydney
Christmas in Sydney 2006
The Church of St James the Less, Litchfield
New Year in Ireland and London 2008/9
The Family at Christmas in Australia 2011
The Family in New York July 2012
The Archives and the Internet
The Family at Christmas in Australia 2013
Lawford Lunch at the Drapers' Hall
The Family at Old Swan House Post-Christmas 2014
Salary and Pay 1967 - 2015

Lucie Skipwith 1942 - 2014

Lucie, wife of my dear friend Charlie and a dear friend herself, died in December 2014. She was the most lovely and charming person, strong and determined and a good businesswoman; but also a wonderful mother, grandmother and homemaker. I was honoured to give this eulogy at her Memorial Service in Droxford Church on 19th April 2015.

Lucie at my 50th birthday party in 1995

Lucie was born Marcelle Louise Othon at Cursan near Creon on 24th November 1942, one of seven children to Maurice and Georgette Othon. Her father, who composed music, died in 1966 and her mother in 1992. Lucie had three brothers, Michel, Francois and Andre (‘Prosper’), and four sisters, including Therese and Mireille. Two of her sisters died young, one at six months and another in 1965, and Lucie’s brother Michel also died, in 1998.

Lucie had a conventional schooling and then studied dressmaking. So good was she that she became a pattern cutter at the Bordeaux atelier of Ted Lapidus, a fashionable Paris couture house of the 60’s and 70’s, and she lived in a flat on Rue Bouffard in Bordeaux.  Charlie meanwhile was learning the wine trade in Bordeaux with the Ginestet’s, the family who then owned Chateau Margaux.

Lucie in 1961 - from her driving licence
One spring day in 1967 Charlie was driving in his MGB Roadster when he pulled up at the lights on Cours Georges Clemenceau alongside Lucie and Therese. They were in a Renault Floride cabriolet, wearing scarves to protect their bee-hives, and he chatted them up. And although Charlie hardly needs any help, he had a doctor friend in his car who knew the girls, and by the fourth set of traffic lights, both had secured a double date with Lucie and her sister. During their courtship, they visited bars and vegetable markets – and night-clubs - notably Chez Jimmy – and La Chevriere - where they danced to ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ - and never looked back. Later on in their courtship, Charlie managed to run out of petrol on the way back from the beach and sent Lucie hitch-hiking to get some while he stayed and listened to 24 Hours Le Mans on the car radio. So romance soon took its predictable course!

I was lucky enough to meet Lucie that summer, when I was lent a flat in Florence for a month and called on my friends to come out and join me. Johnny Cooke and the late Tim Boycott raced out with girlfriends and Charlie arrived with Lucie and a tent which he pitched in a wood near Livorno, only to be rudely woken on Sunday morning by the locals moving through the wood shooting at anything that moved. Obviously they kept their heads down!

When Charlie’s time in Bordeaux came to an end, Lucie came with him back to England where initially she got a job as au pair with the Chapmans in Farnham, where she was very happy. After that she had a less amusing time looking after some spoiled brats in Ealing with the Titcciatti family.  Charlie was then in London working with Freddie Price of Dolamore and pursuing his career in wine and so Lucie took a job at the fashionable leather shop Cordoba in Bond St, and later at Gucci and moved into Charlie’s flat over Dolamore in Paddington Green.

Lucie's wedding to Charlie at Studwell, July 1969

Charlie and Lucie got married in this church in Droxford on 12th July 1969. Lucie naturally made her own wedding dress and those of her bridesmaids. Afterwards they honeymooned in Corsica. Then, through Prue, who had arrived in London to do the season and who had hooked up with me through Nick Duke’s cousin Frances, they met John Rendall – of ‘Christian the Lion’ fame – (and who is here today) and through him became interested in working in Australia. Charlie and Lucie duly sailed for Australia in the summer of 1970 on a Messagerie Maritime paquebot, which they caught in Marseilles.  Prue and I drove them down and put them on to the ship.

Landing eventually in Sydney after calling at places like Guadeloupe and the Marquesas, Taihiti and Moorea, Vanuatu and Noumea , they stayed for a while with Arthur Johnson; Arthur then being Prue’s father’s accountant and soon to marry the same Frances (Duke).

Lucie and Charlie with Arthur and Frances in Sydney 1970

Lucie then worked at dressmaking in Double Bay while Charlie took a job in Arnott’s biscuit factory, but their first job together was managing a pub in Melbourne – ‘Hatter’s Castle’ in South Yarra - and later a large restaurant in a chain called ‘Peanuts’. It was there that Lucie’s commercial cooking career began as they lost a chef without notice and, in what was to become her typical style, Lucie took over.

And they soon started their family. In fact when Prue and I got married in Sydney in December 1971, Lucie was only a couple of weeks away from having Naomi, who was born in January 1972.

At Cobbetts, Lucie took charge of the kitchen, working alongside and managing the chefs and choosing the menus. In the interregnums between chefs or when they simply didn’t turn up, Lucie of course took over the cooking herself.  She had a natural talent for cooking and developing the French regional recipes she had learned from her mother. Her dishes became famed locally and earned the restaurant high marks in the Good Food Guide and other publications. Her ‘soupe de poissons’ and virulent ‘rouille’ stood out, as did special ‘soirees gastronomique’ and private parties.

Lucie with Georgie and Alissa at Hill Head

It was 1974 too that the Skipwith family moved from Studwell Lodge to Greywell and Lucie (and of course Charlie) found themselves managing the restaurant, looking after their own family and increasingly also Charlie’s parents as they got older. The children, now consisting of Naomi, Alissa (1975) and Georgie (1979, went to Mrs Barber’s at Hill Head, the late and somewhat lamented Rookesbury and then to St Swithun’s. There was an enormous amount of driving for both of them in those years. Once she broke her knee in a car accident and was in plaster for some time, but that hardly slowed her down. They had help on occasion from her brother Prosper who became an honorary Brit just as Lucie had herself, and for a while they employed the marvellous Nanny Reid, who helped look after most of our children in the 70’s, but Lucie’s incredible energy and dedication became evident to all who knew her. She used to organise bike rides along the Hamble and picnic trips to the sea. She also loved camping, despite her early experiences with Charlie in Italy, and would set up camp anywhere. She wasn’t one to stick to the rules, nor was she interested in things you had to buy. She always thought that doing things yourself brought you more valuable experiences.

Lucie was faced with some difficult situations in the restaurant when Charlie was away. Once she had to fight off a thief during the lunch service by spraying him with a fire extinguisher and then holding him up with an air pistol. Apparently the thief said to her ‘That won’t hurt’, to which she replied, ‘That depends on where I shoot you!’ On another occasion two enormous drunks came into the bar fighting and started breaking the place up and there was even blood on the walls.  Naomi called the police while Lucie chased one of them out through the kitchen shouting at him in French, which probably terrified him more than anything!  

Then in 1989 a friend, Dr Milligan, who had acquired a double-decker bus to take to race meetings, allowed Charlie and Lucie to become part owners and extend their business by fitting it out as a mobile restaurant and serving lunches to the likes of De La Rue on the rooftop tables. In 1984 they visited Twickenham and took the bus to Le Mans with Spice Racing. They enjoyed it so much that in 1996 they acquired a much bigger vehicle, an American Motorhome, to cater to the race teams such as GTC Gulf McLaren at events throughout Europe. They developed that business so well that by 1995 they sold Cobbetts, and took on full-time race meeting catering until 2003.  This was even harder work than the restaurant, with the cooking being carried out under testing conditions, for instance at Le Mans when the drivers and pit crew required feeding at 2am and again at breakfast as well as throughout the day for ten days at a time. Lucie was quoted in a Sunday Times article as saying ‘They want it and they want it fast!’ They used to feed 84 people at 12 tables of seven under an awning erected on astroturf with fresh flowers on each table. The girls all helped in their holidays and the family lived in the motorhome with a kitchen trailer behind, but Lucie loved watching the start of each race. In 2000 they sold up in England and moved to France.  

Le Cros

In 1988, at Lucie’s request, her brother Prosper had found them an old farmhouse, Le Cros, about ten miles from Creon where she had grown up. It was a day’s drive from the Channel ports, three hours from skiing and two hours from the beaches and 20 mins from Lucie’s mother. Charlie and Lucie developed this into a lovely family home and when they moved to it full time in 2000, they ran it as a B&B, where Lucie could also give cooking lessons.  This proved very successful and they were often full, with cycling tours and numerous individual guests. She had developed an amazing ability to whip up a superb meal in next to no time whether the guests arrived at 9pm or 2am, and her cooking lessons, when she would also take guests to the local market to buy the ingredients, were much prized.

As well as the B&B, Le Cros was indeed a lovely family home. Lucie was the perfect homemaker, her energy and determination creating a wonderful warm environment for the family. She was brilliant at home renovation and was very creative – and she did as much as she could herself, hating to call in help. She was ‘debrouillade’ - meaning that she was always naturally inventive and resourceful. Not only did she make things like curtains and cushions, but when Naomi and Georgie got married, she used her dressmaking skill to make their wedding dresses and the bridesmaids dresses.

Naomi had married Nick here in Droxford in 1999, while Georgie married Simon in France in 2007.  Simon’s first introduction to Lucie was a blind foie gras tasting – two bought-in and one of hers - which fortunately he passed, otherwise he would have had to face the ultimate challenge - a plate of ‘Lamproie a la Bordelaise’! Both Nick and Simon adored her and fitted perfectly into the family, and many happy times (usually most of each August and many Christmases) were spent all together at Le Cros where Simon’s skill at mixing margaritas was frequently called upon in the tasting room.

In 2005, Naomi and Nick had her first grandchild, and Lucie became an adored grandmother to Freddie and then to Florence, born to Georgie and Simon, followed by William in London and Henry in New York. Lucie was indefatigable with her grandchildren and came and helped look after them when ever she could – and in the case of Georgie, thrice dropped everything when nanny arrangements fell through and spent weeks in New York and she even found time to make yards of bunting for Florence. She embraced American culture and food and was even seen tackling a ’15 bite hot dog’! She was also able to indulge her passion for art and culture and was an avid lover of opera. She used to spend at least 15 minutes at each of her favourite paintings at the Museum of Modern Art. One visit in 2011 included a wonderful tour of the West Coast with Charlie as well, and many wonderful photos exist of the family moving about in huge white ‘SUV’ and taking in all the great sights. 

Simon and Georgie with Lucie and Charlie (and Florence) at the Grand Canyon 2011

Of course, there were also many holidays spent skiing with family and friends – usually at La Clusaz - where they went for more than twenty years. Lucie was a good and enthusiastic skier and enjoyed the break from cooking.  She and Charlie also went on several sailing holidays in Greece and Turkey. 

In 2007 Lucie suffered a serious illness, and although she recovered and carried on working as hard as ever, her immune system had been seriously weakened. In the last couple of years she and Charlie had decided to wind down their strenuous daily B&B activities and let the house out as a whole for a week or longer while they themselves lived in the ‘gite’ and took things a bit easier.  She had become a keen gardener and Charlie constructed four large ‘potagers’ for her herbs and vegetables, while she herself worked in the greenhouse far into the night pricking out seedlings, with her radio playing classical music beside her.

Lucie also found time to be very interested in history, particularly English history (which perhaps is explicable by the fact that she came from Aquitaine…). In fact she loved the English way of life such as pubs and the Sunday papers.and was looking forward greatly to spending more time in England following Nick and Naomi’s purchase of their house in Bishop’s Waltham. But sadly she fell ill early last year and on her last visit here in August/September she was already very unwell. Charlie took her back to Le Cros and then to hospital in Bordeaux and visited her daily with great devotion. Naomi, Alissa and Georgie joined Charlie as often as they could but had to watch helplessly as she declined from a combination of intractable diseases that her weakened immune system couldn’t cope with. 

Lucie’s funeral was at Cursan, the setting of her childhood, on a bright December day. The event was beautifully managed and in addition to her sisters Therese and Mireille, her brother Francois , Prosper and their spouses and children, the village and many friends attended. It was a traditional service very like the one we are having here and her close friend Nicole, who has come over for this one, gave a beautiful address. Following the church service, Lucie was cremated in Bordeaux and we were all greatly moved when the music included an echo of Charlie and Lucie’s courtship when ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ was played.  

Despite the tragedy of her early death, her funeral was not all somber.  There was a short delay at the beginning as one of the drivers of the cortege went off with the keys of the hearse in his pocket; leading some to smile at Lucie (who was always late for everything) being late for her own funeral.  There was also the case of the posthumous speeding tickets on Lucie’s Renault Clio, which Charlie was about to send back to the authorities with a sharp note, before Simon owned up to having made a rather swift run in it up to St Emilion and back. Lucie had also posthumously acquired three points on her licence, leading to the thought that if Simon had done much more driving, she might have lost it altogether.

Four months have passed since Lucie died and we have come together here in Droxford to honour and celebrate her life and memory. And although that time has passed, it’s still difficult to realise that she’s not still with us. She was much loved by everyone and her determination and energy was greatly admired by those who were close to her. She was completely devoted to her family but extended her love and care to all those around her. 

Georgie has written: 

From a very young age I used to watch my mother and wonder how someone could always be so thoughtful of others all of the time. Just the small things like always making sure everyone else was taken care of first, serving out the best to others and making do with whatever was left for herself. She was always trying to make sure that everyone was happy. It was something I used to watch carefully from a small child's perspective on life and felt so lucky to be so loved.

I think that is my abiding memory of Lucie too, as the completely unselfish centre of one of the happiest and most united families I know. 

The family in Bordeaux 2012

Fore more photos of Lucie click here 

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Salary and Pay 2015

Much is true in this article on pay inequality; I have watched this growing exponentially since the 1980's.

I began work at Thomas R Miller & Son (now Thomas Miller & Co) in the City in 1967 on a salary of £1000 a year, when at that time an average CEO's (then called a managing director) salary was only five times as much - £5000 a year. By the early1980's, although then a partner, I was still only earning £25,000 a year. The big changes began in 1986 when 'Big Bang' allowed American financial institutions to buy up the City - the banks, insurance companies and stockbrokers - and soon introduce bonuses.

Bonuses built into one's employment contract were an anathema to old-established businesses and were regarded as immoral - both in the giving of them, as they were liable to twist a person's performance in a particular unintended direction - and the receiving of them. We would have felt insulted to be offered a bonus when we already worked as hard as we could.  In those days exceptional work could be rewarded by some one-off gift - such as the trip on the QEII to New York given to one of my colleagues who had done enormously valuable work on the removal of the wreck of the 'old' Queen Elizabeth in Hong Kong harbour after a fire.  And this is the only example that I can recall. Even now, my old firm avoids bonuses but has has a modest profit-sharing scheme. Furthermore the most senior executives are not paid a disproportionate amount more than those at entry level (probably a multiple of 10), despite the firm being one of the most successful and respected in the City.      

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Family at Old Swan House Post-Christmas 2014

The family came together at Old Swan House post Christmas (with the exception of Radha, and Ayako who was in London) from 26th to 30th December 2014. We all stayed at the house (with the exception of Prue and Thomas who stayed at the Greyhound, and Herry had two nights at The White Hart), filling all the corners (and beds) for the first time and eating most of our meals there. It was very cold - (-4C in the mornings) and we kept the fire alight all day.  There was ice on the pond, which got spectacularly broken on the last morning.

The family went up to London on Saturday 28th December and met up with Kei and had lunch at Harvey Nicks

Kei, Thomas, Marijke, Millie, Prue, Char and Edward at Harvey Nicks

Edward, Thomas, Felicity, Johnny, Christien, Prue and Abe. Boodle and Will behind. 
We held a party on Sunday 29th evening for some close friends: Belin and Will Martin, Nichola, Johnny and Henrietta *Cooke, Jay-Jay and Andrew* Kinnear, Felicity and Abe Gibbs, Denise and Christien Hay, and Ian and Jane McCormick* and Oli Stevens came with Kei.  Carol and Oli Bowhill and Ian Wilson-Young couldn't come. Charlie Skipwith was in France following Lucie's funeral, as was Geoff Spawton in Wales following Annie's demise. *Couldn't come

Boodle, Prue, Herry, Edward, Marijke, Thomas, Char and Millie on Beacon Hill with Stocks and Harvestgate in the valley below Old Winchester Hill behind. Taken with a self stick!
We visited Stocks and Harvestgate and had lunch in the White Horse in Droxford, and went into Winchester. Of course we went round the shops in Stockbridge too.

Edward, Thomas, Char, Prue, Boodle, Millie, Marijke and Zoe outside King's Head House

On Tuesday night we had dinner at the Greyhound (where Prue and Thomas were staying).

The family left for Paris on 30th December morning, in a very sharp frost. 

Thomas, Edward, Marijke, Prue, Char, Zoe and Boodle breaking ice on the pond

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Obituary: Ernie Stiles 1941 - 2014

Ernie at Harvestgate Cottage 2012

Ernest Stiles was born on 17th May 1941 to Alfred and Edith Stiles at Hillcrest in Meonstoke, within sight of the Bucks Head.  He was the youngest of three boys and is survived by his brothers Alfie and Phil. Ernie went to Meonstoke School and then to Cowplain, and left school at 15 - as was common in those days - and started work for my father Patrick Lawford at Stocks Farm in October 1956. Ernie remained at Stocks all his working life until Patrick Lawford died in 2002 and the farm was sold – a total of 46 years.

Ernie met Sylvia Painter when he was sixteen and she 14 and they married in 1963, when he was 22. Sylvia came from a family of eight from West Meon. Together they had four children - Jane, Andrew, Phillippa and Richard, and there are three grandchildren, Chloe, Rebecca and Jessica. Richard still lives with Sylvia at home at Harvestgate while the others are in Bishops Waltham, the Isle of Wight and Devon – and all are of course here today. 

I would like to tell a little of the story of Ernie’s life from the time he joined Stocks. On Saturday 14th October 1956 my father’s farm diary includes ‘Stiles Boy’ for the first time in the list of those working there – which in those days included Reg Whitear, then the head man, John Spreadbury, who had joined he farm in October 1950, the year we moved in, George Langridge (who my brother Piers and I called ‘long-nose’) and who later worked at Peake, Tyrell and ‘Shep’ Frampton, who had worked with my father at Litchfield. In those days there were seven or eight men working regularly on the farm, and there were three cottages in the village on the hill above the Buck’s Head, as well as two at ‘Blackhouse’ on the down under Old Winchester Hill - now an enormous pile called Stocks Down Farm and rented to Dr Morris, who has been so good with Ernie throughout his long illness (but I am getting ahead of myself).

In the those early days Ernie had a BSA motorbike, which Sylvia remembers cleaning, and they used to travel together to watch stock car and speedway racing in Southampton.  They married on 30th November 1963, and the farm diary records the wedding - naturally on a Saturday – but by Monday Ernie was back at work and he spent the rest of the week ploughing. He and Sylvia moved into one of the Blackhouse cottages, which being high up under Old Winchester Hill had by far the best view in the valley - at least they used to until a later tenant, Stan Cutler, planted a Christmas tree in the front garden!  

Ernie’s life was bounded by the farms and villages around Stocks, and he never travelled very far.  To the north, there was the imposing bulk of Old Winchester Hill, which was taken over from us by the Nature Conservancy in 1954, and behind it Peake Farm and the McPhails where Ernie was sometimes sent to help. To the East was Parkers, and Tom Parker could often be seen up, riding the boundaries in his polished riding boots or in the lane in a pony and trap, and we all marveled at ‘the Cathedral’ – the huge drier and grain store which he built over the hill from us. To the south and west were the Horns - Bob and Stephen – and down Stocks Lane towards Meonstoke, the Biles’s at Harvestgate Farm, which we bought on Tom Biles’s retirement in 1970.  Ernie and Sylvia moved into Harvestgate Farmcottage and remained there to this day. Down Stocks Lane were the Minors and beyond them Bruce Horn at Shavards, the Martins in Exton and above Corhampton, the Rowsells. And Ernie worked with all of them, for as we shall see, he was also a great beater.

When Ernie first came to Stocks, he would have driven the old Fordson tractors without cabs and other comforts, possibly still started by hand, but he became a good ploughman, winning some ploughing matches. But my memories of Ernie then were more often on one of the Fordsons with a buck rake on the front, moving stuff around the yard or carting feed. Ernie had many years potato and sugar beet harvesting and used to take trailer-loads of sugar-beet to Droxford station where the invariably wet and muddy beet had to be loaded by hand onto the wagons using those strange blunt-ended forks. In later years, he ran the drier, working for hours in the heat and dust to clean and dry the grain and either bag it or move it into great piles from where it could be loaded onto the grain lorries. Ernie would work, as all the men did, late into the night and at weekends without complaint, until the harvest was in and safely stored away. But that heat and dust made his job particularly arduous.  

Ernie had the customary schooling, but I wonder if his teachers knew that he would turn out to be good as he was at mental arithmetic? Bruce Horn remembers the terrifying ‘Tiger’ Harris at Cowplain who would hurl the blackboard rubber at you and once cut open David Cook’s head. But Ernie was extremely quick; a skill learned perhaps not from school but from playing darts, which was his main pastime. He loved to play with friends like Tony Farnell, John Miles and George Hambly at the Buck’s Head and in the Thomas Lord West Meon and won may cups and trophies. Indeed his daughter Jane told me that she wasn’t allowed to play darts with him until she could score  - and what a brilliant way that was to get your children to lean arithmetic!  And his skill was not only essential at darts, but also invaluable on the farm, as my brother Fairfax remembers that he always knew exactly how many bales there were in a rick, or bags in a stack in the barn. And despite being slim, he was strong too, with Fairfax, who worked with him for a year before going to Cirencester, again remembering that he (and fellow-pupil David Williams) could together stack 200cwt sacks of wheat up to three tiers high! We all know what ‘health and safety’ would say to that today – not to mention the fact that Fairfax and I used to do some of the corn cart from the age of about ten!

But in addition to his traditional farm duties, Ernie was extremely helpful and reliable and he became indispensible to my parents, undertaking many duties apart from tractor driving, such as feeding the animals, pheasants, chickens and sometimes ducks – if the fox hadn’t had them - as well as the dogs when my parents were away. When there wasn’t one, he was also unofficial keeper, which suited his other love, that of beating.  Ernie beat at all the shoots my father had at Stocks and at many of those on the neighbouring farms as well.  Rod Rowell, the Parker’s keeper, knew him from his teens and just now from Scotland, couldn’t speak highly enough of him. He admired not only his skill as a beater and always being in the right place (or more particularly perhaps, of not being in the wrong one!) but of his general cheerful common sense. As a beater, he probably knew the woods and hedgerows of these farms better than anyone. But he never shot, himself.        

Rod also mentioned something else, his kindness. and this is echoed by everyone one who knew him. Nichola Hussey, who came to Stocks after us, found his kindness and reliability a great strength, whether it was helping with horses, or dogs or even children.  Rod says, and anyone who knew Ernie would agree, that he behaved always as though he didn’t think of himself. Rod also found him well read and interested and knowledgeable about many things.  Simon Martin also recalls his sense of fun. When doing his garden in Soberton, he used to call down the garden, ‘Tea, Ern?’ and invariable they would both crack up laughing about it.

Ernie retired from Stocks when my father died in 2002 and the farm was sold, but he continued to work part-time for those around him and with his son Richard, and of course continued beating. He spent a lot of time with his friend Ron Talman in Soberton, and Bruce Horn used to take him to Salisbury Market, which he greatly enjoyed.  Bruce was amused to find that the last time he had seen Stonehenge was on a school visit 50 years before, and had never seen the Fovant badges.

In 2007 he fell ill with leukemia, which meant that he had to have chemotherapy and thereafter, constant transfusions, but he never complained and bore his illness bravely. Even when weak, he still liked to go out as much as he could, walking the familiar fields and hedgerows, refusing a stick or a scooter. Sylvia said that he never admitted to being in pain, even at the end. He was well looked after by Dr Arnold in Winchester Hospital, and Dr Morris at home, as well as his carers Jenny and Jilly  - and of course always Sylvia who bore the brunt of his care.  But Ernie was a true kind ‘gentle man’ and in the best way, became part of that beautiful landscape, which will always contain him now, as after this service his family will spread his ashes on Old Winchester Hill. 

Herry Lawford
29th July 2014  

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