Monday, September 07, 2015

Lady Rozelle Raynes 1925 - 2015.

Lady Frederica Rozelle Ridgway Pierrepont would have been 15 years old when, in 1940, her father became the 6th Earl Manvers (succeeding his cousin) and took up residence in Thoresby Hall. She was the youngest of three children but the only one to survive to adulthood.

Soon after the family moved into the Hall it was requisitioned by the military, bringing her into close contact with the armed forces. As a small child she had been fascinated by the sea, and the Second World War presented an opportunity to join the WRNS as a tugboat stoker. (Much preferable in her eyes to a finishing school in Switzerland). She would recall those times as being a “peak of happiness”, and burst into tears upon being demobbed when the war was over.

But her sailing days had really only just begun, and subsequent adventures on her 25ft yacht the Martha McGilda provided ample material to fill a series of self-penned books. In 1953 she married Major Alexander Beattie of the Coldstream Guards. Whilst her mother continued to reside at Thoresby Hall, Lady Rozelle inherited the place in 1955 when her father died. Thoresby Hall was opened up to the public in 1957 (see THIS LINK), and first husband Major Beattie was much involved in it becoming a popular attraction during a decade when visits to stately homes became a favourite national pastime (see first Thoresby Hall souvenir brochure on THIS LINK). However, the marriage ended in 1961.

In 1965 Lady Rozelle married Dr Richard Raynes. In the mid-1970s, with the support of husband Dr Raynes, she embarked on a scheme to help rehabilitate East End boys in care. This involved taking them out on the Thames in the Martha McGilda, half a day every fortnight, and teaching them to sail and navigate. These “Tuesday Boys” became the subject of a subsequent book, and in 1980 she established the Martha McGilda charitable trust so as this successful scheme of support for such boys might continue.

After Thoresby Hall was sold to the National Coal Board in 1984 (see THIS LINK), the estate would be managed mostly by agents, but Lady Rozelle still became lifelong friends with many of the people living and working there, in particular, the Courtyard Gallery where her mother’s paintings enjoy a constant presence (see THIS LINK). In the 1980s she and her husband had a house built on the estate, and moved there in 2010 after suffering a fall and could no longer manage to reside in London. Lady Rozelle died June 22nd 2015, a year after her husband. They left no descendants.

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