Earlier this week the Lord Somerleyton, Saville W F Crossley GCVO died at his home at the age of 83 after suffering for many years with Alzheimer’s.
He was someone always on the periphery of my life from when I was born, in fact his Mother was one of the first people to see me after my Mum and Dad brought me home from the hospital. Our business was on the edge of the Somerleyton Estate and many of the family, estate workers and businesses worked with us. When I started at the primary school, I was there with two of his daughters, I progressed to middle school, they to boarding school. My piano teacher also taught his children and she would hold recitals at the Hall in aid of the local churches and her pupils performed their pieces.
I can vividly recall striking the first chord of our National Anthem and feeling everyone there stand, their silence of respect and knowing every minute emphasis of each note had to be perfect. Then at another recital when I was performing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and His Lordship was seated beside my Mother [the family are great minglers] as I softened the finals notes he uttered in a whisper “Beautiful”.
Some of you may recall from an earlier blog the long held tradition of penny and a bun. When the primary school children would go to the Hall on or near Valentine’s Day to be give a bright shinny fresh from The Royal Mint coin and a hot cross bun, before
being let loose to get lost in the famous Maze … Penny And A Bun
Again, paths crossed with the Church Choir that his youngest was part of for a few years. There were the harvest suppers, summer fetes, carol concerts, charity fundraisers, and general stuff of village life that meant we’d often bump into each other.
I was fortunate to work for many years front line and in the office at the Country Park of the northern end of the Estate. Exciting times as the business was expanded and spectacular events such as when the famous Catalina Flying Boat came and landed on the water, quite a challenge, incredibly atmospheric, and utterly astounding when it look off again. I remember dressing for the day as a Belly Dancer for our Camel Racing event and the utter gasp of embarrassment as I turned round and faced him unawares he was there and he unaware we had decided to costume for the day to add to the ambience. I think his grin was one of pleasure.
When I was seeking sponsors for my first sailing adventure, I had a picture on my desk as a reminder of what I was working hard for, he asked me about it. On another office visit he asked how my efforts were going, I told him I had had support from the Royal Naval Association and local Rotary, as well as Royal Mail, that I was saving to match each sponsors donation. A short while later he breezed into the office and placed an envelope in my in-tray, said nothing specific about it, continued with Park business and off he went. I thought nothing of it, imagining it to be some mis-directed mail or something needing my business attention, but no, inside was a cheque, a generous cheque – I was floored and astounded.
He had his flaws and ways, but if you know how he was, you earned his respect and I’d like to hope I had.
The photo above is from his tenure as Master Of The Horse to Her Majesty The Queen. He took his Royal duties most seriously, and with great honour, but for all the pomp and ceremony he was a country man.
It will seem strange referring to his son as Lord Somerleyton, that is the curious thing with titles, the names never change just the faces.
I send my condolences to his widow, their children and grand children.