Sunday, November 25, 2007

Litchfield 1938 - 1946

Litchfield Manor during the war. Herry's bedroom was on the near corner. The window was broken by a bomb just after he was born.

Having completed his pupilage with Percy Bragg at Headbourne Worthy, Patrick was offered the Litchfield Estate by the then owner, Carey Druce (who lived in Switzerland). He came there in 1938 and married Catherine Stephenson in 1940. She died in December 1941. Patrick married Annette Luxmoore nee Pugh (who was living with her mother, Lady Herbert and step-father, at the neighbouring estate of Dunley) in 1944. Herry was born at Litchfield in 1945 and christened at Litchfield Church that September.

It was at Litchfield that Patrick became a a fine horseman and shot. Carey Druce gave him a pair of Holland & Holland Royals. His shooting book, which he kept for over 50 years, begins with entries here in 1943.

After completing his work at Litchfield, he and the family moved for a few months to Wadwick and then to Danegate at Eridge for Patrick to manage the Abergavenny Estate, before buying his own farm at Meonstoke, Stocks.

Litchfield played a large part in the lives of the family ever since, and the little church of St James the Less became the family church.

Click on the heading to see more photos of Litchfield in those (wartime) days

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Engleberg Winter 1963

Bottom right: Elsa and her mother by the fire, both characteristically smoking. In the other photos - Ruth's stepdaughter Sara [from Ruth's photo album 1946]

In 1963, between leaving school and going to university, Herry spent the winter in Engleberg where a distant cousin, Frau Prof Hauthal and her daughter Elsa had a chalet called 'Haldengutli'. Members of the family who loved skiiing - particularly the Pughs and the Cassels (Francie - Sir Francis- and later his son Tim) - had spent the winter there since the 1930s. Griffith Pugh, who later played a crucial role in supporting Hilary and Tenzing on their successful conquest of Everest in 1953, learned to become an Olympic skiier there, ignoring his father's entreaties to return home to his medical studies.

As Elsa and her mother got older, looking after up to 16 guests every day proved too much for them and one of the family or close friends used to send their sons (and more rarely, daughters) to Engleberg for the winter as 'chalet girls'. It was a marvellous experience; preparing breakfast, clearing up and making the beds in the morning, skiiing until about 4pm and then collecting the shopping and calling in at Frau Barel's for a hot chocolate on the way home, before cooking supper. I can still make a mean wiener schnitzel and rosti.

Charlie Skipwith followed me the next year. These photos show Charlie, 'Tiny', Fuff, Belinda, Dominic Thompson and his wife Jill, Harriet  (then Jacky) Pugh and Belinda Heathcote-Amory

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Patrick Lawford 1914 - 2002

Notes for the Address at the Funeral of Patrick Lawford in Meonstoke Church in February 2002

Patrick Lawford was born on 23rd November 1914, the youngest of five children, to Capt Vincent Lawford (CMG, DSO, RN) and Jane Agnes nee Mapplebeck at Chorleywood in Hertfordshire. The Lawford family were mostly bankers and solicitors but his brothers Adrian and Denys followed their father into the Navy, while his other brother Valentine had a distinguished career in the diplomatic service and then became a noted author, art connoisseur and artist in New York. His sister Sylvia Findlater, who is 92, survives them all.

It was doubtless the Navy’s loss but Patrick had one term at Dartmouth before deciding to go farming after he left Repton - where he was an outstanding long-distance runner - and was taken on as a pupil by Percy Bragg at Headbourne Worthy, just outside Winchester in Hampshire. There he spent a marvellous three years before being recommended to Carey Druce, the then owner of the Litchfield Estate, as manager.

While at Litchfield he married his first wife Catherine Stephenson, who tragically died of a brain tumour after less than two years of marriage. A year or so after her death he was out riding when he caught sight of Annette, who was living with her mother Nina and her husband Sir Alfred Herbert (known to us as ‘Step’) at the neighbouring estate of Dunley, following the death of her husband, Wing Commander Arthur Luxmoore who had been shot down over Belgium. She was pushing a pram; and the pram of course contained Fairfax. Patrick and Annette were married at St Peter's, Eaton Square in 1944 and Herry was born at Litchfield Manor in 1945 and christened in the church there.

In 1946 Patrick took another job as manager, this time on the Marquis of Abergavenny’s estate at Eridge in Kent. They lived at Danegate House on the estate for four years and became friends of the Abergavennys. Piers was born in 1947.

By 1950 Patrick had completed his farming apprenticeship and knew enough to set out on his own. Hampshire was a natural choice as he determined to farm again on chalk. He was wisely advised by Carlyle Sayer of Strutt & Parker on the merits of Stocks Farm under Old Winchester Hill in the Meon Valley, when it came up for sale. No doubt his old friend from Headbourne Worthy days - Jim Harris of James Harris & Sons (whose former partner Robin Lalonde is now one of Patrick's trustees) advised him too. In fact it would be true to say that one of Patrick and Annette's characteristics was their ability to chose and make wonderful friends who both helped them in business and shared their company over many decades.

It is interesting to recall that when they bought Stocks, though smaller in acreage than it is today, it had several farm cottages in the village as well as in the valley – particularly those opposite the church above The Buck’s Head. The cottages were slowly sold off as mechanisation reduced the number of jobs available on the farm and all are now very much grander than they were then. The Manor House in Meonstoke was also part of the farm, but was sold off separately. Coincidentally, some years later, Ruth Howard, nee Pugh, Annette’s first cousin, came to live there with her husband John.

By the end of the 1950s Patrick and Annette had begun their long love affair with the South of France, chosen originally as a winter holiday destination to ease the pain of Annette's rhumatism (caused by a car crash in her cousin Tony Powell-Edward's car on the way back from a hunt ball at Glynde when she was 22). They quickly settled on the little Saracen village of Ramatuelle near St Tropez and lived in and near Ramatuelle for close to 40 years, for three or four months of each year - and sometimes more. They were only able to do this, of course, because they had been fortunate in the employment of John Spreadbury, their head man, who only retired from working for them just after Annette died in 1998 and Ernie Stiles - who still works at Stocks as he has done for the last 45 years, as well as John's son Andrew.

Stocks Farm grew over the period, taking in Harvestgate Farm in 1969 when Tom Biles decided to retire - and later Little Stocks Farm, bought from the Hendersons in 1980. Later, this was partly given to John Spreadbury and partly sold for village homes made from the barn and the farmhouse, while Herry built up the house at Harvestgate Farm with his first wife, Prue.

As a farmer, Patrick was a traditionalist but also knew when he had to move with the times. Stocks under his husbandry became known as one of the finest farms in the Meon Valley. It is again illustrative of his capacity to chose the right people to work with that following Annette's death, Stocks has been farmed by Stephen Horn on Patrick's behalf and it is a great credit to him as well as a source of great pleasure to Patrick that the farm today can today be said never to have looked better - and that is as we all know at a time when most farmers are finding their profession difficult and increasingly profitless.

Patrick did not take on many civic duties - apart from the farm, he made sure that he always had enough time for Annette and his friends, but he was a Droxford magistrate for over 30 years and retired as deputy chairman of the bench. He always said he was fortunate never to have any of his children appear before him. He was also president of the local Conservative party for a many years, but even his closest friends would not describe him as overly interested in politics.

He remained very fit all his life. He rode to hounds when at Eridge and rode of course at Litchfield, and around Stocks later on. He had learned tennis on his parents' grass court and was of club standard. Later they had many happy tennis parties on summer evenings when he would play and Annette would watch and talk to their friends. Characteristically, one never knew if he had won or lost his games. That was never important to him – though his children readily admit to the fact that he rarely lost to them! He also played a fair game of cricket and for many years was proud to wear the colours of Colin Balfour’s Eleven at their annual match against Durley village.

He was also an excellent shot. It the early days at Litchfield and Dunley, he shot with some of the finest guns in the country, who regularly brought down 1000 or more birds in a day. Carey Druce gave him a priceless pair of Holland & Holland Royals which he valued greatly. He continued to shoot until his 70s and enjoyed the more modest sport at Stocks and on the surrounding estates with his friends.

It would be difficult - in fact I think impossible - to find anyone who did not love Patrick. He had enormous unaffected charm and was perhaps unusual in that he was admired equally by men and by their wives. He never tried to take centre stage, but people loved to talk to him and he somehow managed effortlessly to put everyone around him into the same good spirits as he always was. He loved people and he turned many acquaintances into friends - and all of them returned his love a many times over.

It would be wrong not to make special mention of Ruth Howard, who as Annette’s first cousin was brought up with her and of course knew Patrick from the beginning of their marriage. Following Annette’s death, she and Patrick were devoted companions, travelling together and being together both at Stocks and at her house in Chelsea, and enriching his life in his final years.

Herry Lawford
13th February 2002
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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Danegate 1946-1950

Fuff, Annette with Piers, Herry in the wheelbarrow at Danegate Summer 1949 . Photo by Horst

Following Patrick's pupillage at Headbourne Worthy and his first management job at Litchfield, the family moved to Eridge in 1946 - first to Crown House and then to Danegate on the Marquess of Abergavenny's estate. Danegate was an imposing crenellated house overlooking Eridge Park and we had a most happy time there as it was a perfect place for children. Herry remembers to this day the taste of the Michaelmas daisies he tried to eat in the border and his mother remembers finding him half-way up a huge ladder trying to see the moon better! He also used to ride his tricycle (and later an orange tractor) in the house's wide corridors. Later, having learned to ride a bicycle, he used to bike down the long drive to play with the little girl who lived in the lodge. Piers was born there in 1947 and Fuff started school at St Ronan's the same year.

The farm near the house (known as 'Sham Farm', as it too had crenellations on the farm buildings) housed a dairy where Herry learned to milk cows and the peculiar smell of the steam-cleaning equipment stays in his memory even now. There were also several breeding bulls, one of which unfortunately killed a man who unwisely entered its stall.

came and stayed often, sometimes with Horst, who took some marvellous family photos including the one at the top of this page. The huge American car which Valentine had been given by the Shah's sister, Puhran, when he was Charge d'Affairs in Tehran was garaged there for a while before being put to work on the farm!

Several pupils came to learn farming under Patrick; one of whom, Count Sandy Manassei, became a particular friend.

Patrick rode to hounds with the Eridge Hunt and he and Annette became friends with the Abergavennys - John and Patricia - which continued after we had bought Stocks Farm and moved there in 1950.

Click on the heading to see more photos from Danegate

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21 SAS

Herry had enjoyed the corps at Winchester and shortly after joining Millers, Herry also joined the TA - 21 SAS - which was then based at the Duke of York's Barracks on the King's Road. He had a marvellous time training at weekends on 'The Fan' (Pen-y-Fan') in the Brecon Beacons and on the moors outside Newcastle. He took the selection course in 1970 and was 'Best Recruit' in his year. Subsequently he went on a number of training courses, including becoming a parachutist.

As his travelling for Millers increased, he had to give up the TA in 1972, though he remains a member of the Artists Rifles.

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Winchester College 1959-1964


Following St Ronan's, Herry went to Winchester from 1958 until 1964, in Phil's (Sergeant's) where Francis King was his housemaster. Although his father Patrick had been at Repton, his mother Annette's brothers were all at Winchester as was her father, and she went to St Swithun's.

Although a distant relation, Herry didn't get on with King, partly because of his (Herry's) eclectic reading tastes (Maupassant, Zola, Iris Murdoch) of which King (a devout man) did not approve. King also ran an appalling kitchen, the taste of some foods remaining with Herry to this day.... Herry's mother probably contributed inadvertently to the reading problem by maintaining an account for him at Harringtons in Parchment St and encouraging him to buy any books he liked - a practice which he later continued with his own children. She also supplemented his food rations by maintaining an account at Cullen's, a rather smart grocers in Jewry St, not far from Barclays Bank, where he used to have his cheques cashed by the beautiful Carol.

At Winchester, one was expected to play many hours of sport a week, which Herry enjoyed but he was no more than a useful footballer and cricketer (as he had been at St Ronan's), and being small until the age of 16, played an indifferent game of Winchester football. He was also cox of his house four and eight. However, as with his father Patrick, his best sport was long distance running ('tolling') and he became school captain (making his nickname at St Ronan's the more prescient). However, he lost the senior steeplechase of 1963 in spectacular fashion, after leading throughout. Thinking he'd won, he slowed up a few yards from the tape and was passed by Simon Beloe....

In 1961 the school put on a splendid Masque to celebrate the opening of the New Hall. It was written and produced by the dons, particularly by Ronnie Hamilton, Michael Burchnall and Colin Badcock. The programme can be seen here

Herry was keen on the corps (CCF) which led him naturally to join the TA later.

Herry made a few good friends at Winchester, his closest probably being David Mallet, who had his own pop group while still at school. Herry used to go and stay with him in the holidays at his parents' house (Sir Victor and Peggy's) at Wittersham and once they drove up to Liverpool together to see the Beatles (they weren't on, but they did see the Cavern). Another close friend was Nils Pherson, a noted musician, whose family lived on Sleepers' Hill and who were wonderfully hospitable. In his last summer term, they would allow Herry to park a car in their drive, to be used discreetly when we wanted to go out somewhere - mainly to Old Winchester Hill for picnics.

Click the heading to see some more photos from his time at Winchester and some modern ones here
Here too for the Winchester College Society 50 Years On Dinner at which Herry was happy to see old friends such as Angus Maclay and (Sir) Roger Vickers and well as David Mallet.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

St Ronan's 1953-58

Herry went to St Ronan's from 1953 until 1958. Fuff (known there as 'Lux') preceded him and Piers (known then as 'Scurry'), came in 1955. St Ronan's was a marvellously happy prep school in huge grounds outside Hawkhurst. Founded in 1883 in Worthing, it moved in 1946 to Tongswood House, which had been owned by the Gunther family (the makers of Oxo cubes; hence the oxo motif in the stonework). It was owned and run by WB 'Dick' Harris who was succeeded in 1957 by the Vassar-Smiths (Sir Richard and Lady Dawn), who were friends of his parents, Sir Richard having been at Lancing with Fuff's father Arthur Luxmoore. Dick Harris, the retiring headmaster, used to amuse the boys by allowing them to put sweet papers in his enormously bushy eyebrows.

In addition to huge playing fields, the school had a magnificent wood - 'Tongswood' - which contained a stream where we constructed clay water-slides and built 'hides', a sinister and enormously deep 'hammer' pond which we weren't allowed to go near, a lake on which we could boat or skate, kitchen gardens where we could grow things, a huge rockery complete with caves and grottos and a marvelous 'pinetum' full of rare trees in which we could play 'he' for ever. An old rabbit warren was the scene of the 'dromes' where we played with our 'Dinky' cars in the summer - models which Piers still has today...

The Vassar-Smiths were a wonderful couple; Sir Richard was a powerful man who's father had been chairman of Lloyd's Bank (and who's ancestors founded Vassar College in the United States). He was a Cambridge football blue and had played for the Corinthian Casuals. He ran the school with great humour, following Dick Harris's tradition of giving every boy (there was only one girl, his daughter Julie - who was a rugger colour!) a nickname. Herry was known as 'Hurry' as he always ran everywhere. Sir Richard could usually be seen carrying a mashie niblick and practicing his approach shots on the dasies. Lady Dawn was universally loved for her no-nonsense kindness. Delightfully, she used to read aloud to the youngest boys in her drawing room in the evenings.

The school also served good food, though the bread and dripping (or bread and hot sweetened milk) that one had after games might not be approved of today. Sweets were sensibly rationed and however much 'grub' one brought to school at the beginning of term, only 16 pieces were allowed to be eaten each week, beginning in a ritual which began with a cry of 'grub now or never' when the pantry in which the boys' sweets were stored was unlocked for an hour.

Herry particuarly rembembers 'Crofty' - Richard Crofton, the kind French master, who - in order to practice his French - he used to meet in the mornings walking up from his rooms below the school, and who taught him a number of useful 'idioms' which he uses to this day. Others included David Urch and Mr Hood who taught history, Mark Portal, 'Jevvy' - Mr Jevons (who taught him Latin sufficiently well for him to get into Winchester), Guy Clark who taught geometry ('An axiom is a self-evident fact which can't be proved') and 'Pooley', who put him off maths for the rest of his school years. There is a photograph of most of them in the school magazine of August 1958 here.

Like all at St Ronan's, he did acquire a good degree of general knowledge though, by means of a simple and enormously effective annual exam for the whole school in which 100 general knowledge questions were asked and the results published. To come top of that exam was regarded as one of the most prestigious school achievements of all and accounts for the fact that all St Ronan's boys know which is the highest capital city in the world, how to address a bishop and whether they would be prouder of their father if he was awarded an OBE or a CBE. The other memorable skill which we acquired was to be able to sing Handel's Messiah, which consequently remains a favourite to this day.

Herry was a reasonable footballer and rugger player and was also in the cricket side. He was not as good as Fuff at football and rugger and not as good as Piers at cricket, despite playing endless games with him on the lawn at Stocks. But he could run, even then, and used to win the annual steeplechase.

Herry in his St Ronan's jersey 1957

Click here for a fascinating excerpt from 'The View From King Street' by Christopher Hurst who describes life at St Ronan's in the pre-war days

Click here for extracts from the St Ronan's Magazine Sept 1953 when Dick Harris was still headmaster. Fuff was at the school and Herry is named as a new boy for the next term (Autumn 1953).

Click here for some surviving entries from Herry's diary c1956/7 including a rare entry by WB Harris and one by David Urch

Click here for some more photos of St Ronan's from those days and here for photos taken at the Centenary in 1993.

The school has an excellent website which also contains much history and a searchable database of old boys
St Ronan's
Finally here for some more recent ones.

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Thomas Miller & Co Ltd 1967-2006

The UK Club's 125th Anniversary Dinner at the Guildhall in January 1995. Click the photo for a surprisingly good enlargement, with most people clearly identifiable. Herry is at a table 7 o'clock from the centre

Thomas R Miller & Son was founded by Thomas Robson Miller, a third generation German immigrant from Hanover whose family name was originally Reichmuller. TR Miller was born in Newcastle and became mayor of Morpeth and a shipowner as well as secretary to the North of England Hull Club before being invited down to London to run the UK P&I Club by the then managers, Lamplough & Co. In 1885 he took over their business and by the 1890's the UK Club was the largest such institution in the world.

There is an excellent description of the early days of the firm and a photo of Thomas R Miller in 'Mutuality' - The Story of the UK P&I Club by Peter Young - on the internet.

After graduating in 1967 Herry started work for Thomas Miller at the suggestion of Bill Birch Reynardson, later senior partner, who his father got to know from shooting with the Balfours.

For a photo of the partners in the late 1980s, see here

In addition to the UK P&I Club, Millers managed a number of mutual insurance clubs, including the TT Club, which insures the multimodal and logistics industry, the UK and Hellenic War Risks Clubs and the Bar Mutual, which insures the barristers in England and Wales for their PI risks.

Herry worked mainly for the UK P&I Club ( dealing with marine liability claims and handling some fascinating casualties. He travelled frequently to talk to shipowners, lawyers and correspondents - initially to Yugoslavia and India and then to the Middle East (eg Saudi, Iraq) and in time to Japan and China. In all he visited more than 50 countries, many of them regularly.

Herry became a partner of Millers in 1982 and in 1984 the founding manager of a new Miller 'club' for shipbrokers, agents and managers originally called Transport Intermediaries Mutual (TIM) and following a successful merger with another Club, International Transport Intermediaries Club and had great fun helping to build that up to be the largest such insurer (of marine intermediary professional indemnity risks) in the world. He was particularly involved with the shipmanagement industry (who are also agents and intemediaries) and helped to draft the now universally accepted BIMCO SHIPMAN and CREWMAN agreements.

In 1993 he moved back to the UK P&I Club while also taking various management positions in London, including Chairman of Thomas Miller (Asia Pacific). In that capacity he spent eight years commuting from London to Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and China as well as developing the services provided by the marine clubs in London.

Always interested in technology and communications, he spent time developing an on-line Encyclopaedia and also managed the UK Club's website, largely in his spare time. He also helped create an online claims recording and management system for one of the Japanese shipping lines and as well as a system for checking the pre sign-on health of seafarers.

He retired in May 2006 after 39 years with Millers - but then took on a year's consultancy with a firm of City solicitors - Clyde & Co - and continued to travel in Asia. For a while he also undertook work from time to time for Thomas Miller in places like India and China, where long relationships are all-important.

Click on the heading to see more photos from his time with Millers.

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