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Lord Feversham

LORD Feversham, who has died aged 64, wore the encumbrances of his inherited title lightly, but was very serious indeed about the things he valued, his ancestral home and its estate being foremost among them.

Always known as Peter, Charles Antony Peter Duncombe was born in Hampshire on January 3, 1945, the only son of Colonel Antony Duncombe-Anderson, of the West Yorkshire Regiment, and a descendant of the first Lord Feversham.

Peter inherited the barony from a cousin when he was 18. Half the Duncombe Park estate near Helmsley had been held in trust for him since he was eight. The house itself was on lease to Queen Mary's Girls' School, and would remain so until the mid-1980s.

He went to Eton and read for the bar for a short time at the Middle Temple before settling on a writing career.

When he was 21, he married Shannon Foy. They lived at Beckdale House, outside Helmsley, and had three children, Jasper, Jake and Melissa. Lord Feversham continued to be a journalist and author; boats were his passion and he wrote for the magazine Motor Boating and Yachting.

In 1967 his first and only novel was published. A Wolf in Tooth is a thriller which drew on his experiences and background, some of the characters undoubtedly based on people he knew.

He also wrote a glossy coffee-table book, Great Yachts.

Tragedy struck in 1976 when his wife died just after her 30th birthday. The second Lady Feversham would be Polly Aldridge, a graduate in art history and philosophy of the University of London whom he married in Ampleforth Abbey three years later. Their son is Patrick.

When the lease on Duncombe Park expired, the girls' school made its new home at Baldersby Park – an amicable arrangement – and to the surprise of many, Lord and Lady Feversham moved back to Duncombe.

The house with its many bedrooms was not in bad repair, but its years as a girls' boarding school had made it too institutional to be a home, and initially the family had the use of a small kitchen and three bedrooms on the fourth floor. The sound of the front door bell being rung heralded a considerable excursion for whoever was deputed to answer it.

Bit by bit the house was reclaimed, Lord Feversham overseeing the larger operations – restoring the garden was a particular labour of love – and his wife the interior decoration. Simultaneously he ran the estate and its farms as he would have done a modern, enterprising business. His hobbies were gardening and shooting, his aptitude for gardening greater, perhaps, than his aptitude for shooting.

His sense of humour was unconventional, but it reflected the approach of a man who did not stand on ceremony and, on occasion, could be very surprising. After opening the house to the public in in 1990, there was an occasion when his Sussex spaniel Molesworth upset two visitors by catching and beginning to eat a rabbit within sight of them.

Lord Feversham, being nearby, attracted their rebuke for allowing such an atrocity to occur, and assuring them he would deal with the problem immediately, dragged Molesworth round a corner and into a courtyard. Moments later there was the sound of a shotgun going off followed by Lord Feversham's well-known impression of a dying dog.

And so it was that this and numerous other anecdotes contributed to his lordship's reputation for the unexpected.

An honorary Fellow of Bretton Hall College, Lord Feversham had a great love for the visual arts. From 1987 to 1991 he was president of the Yorkshire Arts Association; he was chairman of the trustees of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and of the Standing Conference of Regional Arts Associations.

He was also a member of various committees of the Arts Council of Great Britain and the Arts and Education Committee of the Calouste Gulbenkian UK and Commonwealth branch.

For 30 years he sat as a liberal-minded crossbencher in the House of Lords.

He was a member of Helmsley Town Council for some 36 years, and was three times its chairman. He also became President of the National Local Councils' Association and president of the Yorkshire and Cleveland LCA, and was president of the Society of Yorkshiremen in London.

Other public appointments included being a governor of Leeds Polytechnic and the York Theatre Royal.

Lord Feversham is survived by his wife and children Jasper, who inherits the title, Jake, Melissa and Patrick.

 
 
 

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