JOHN Raleigh Chichester–Constable, the East Yorkshire country landowner of Burton Constable, and one-time manager of a pop group, has died aged 84.
After inheriting one of Yorkshire’s oldest and grandest houses, Burton Constable Hall, at Sproatley, near Hull, in 1963 he and his wife spent nearly 30 years raising money in a variety of ways to restore the place which was ravaged by dry rot, wet rot, death watch beetle, war-time army occupation and periods of non-occupation.
In 1929, his grandfather had decided he could not afford to live in it so left it empty and dust-sheeted, moving into a smaller house on the 4,000 acre estate.
The Army took over the house in 1940, two German mines descended on parachutes in 1941 blowing out windows, doors and part of the roof, and by the time he inherited it the place was in a sorry state.
But in 1992 the family burden was lifted when it was handed over to the National Heritage Memorial Fund who set up a charitable trust to cover restoration and running costs.
The agreement gave the family a 250-year lease on the south wing and he and his daughter retained 4,000 acres of the estate and a caravan park. That has since expanded into a holiday park with an arboretum which Mr Chichester-Constable planted a decade ago and reflects the history of Burton Constable.
More recently, he has overseen the £300,000 restoration of the hall’s walled garden, which was built in 1768, and of the old bothy and gardener’s cottage.
Burton Constable has been the family seat for 700 years, although the hall only dates back 400 years,
It was in the 1960s that the Chichester-Constables turned their hand to the beat group business, becoming co-managers of The Hullabaloos, four young men from Hull.
It seemed an incongruous partnership at the time, four long-haired pop singers and a baronial hall, but as Mr Chichester-Constable pointed out: “Music has been played here since the 16th century. My forbears had their minstrels, The Hullabaloos are our 20th century minstrels.”
They had some success in the United States of America, but were never as popular in the UK.
Mr Chichester-Constable, a colourful and adventurous character, also bore the feudal title of 46th Lord Paramount of the Seigniory of Holderness, conferred on his family at the time of William the Conqueror. It gave him certain rights on the foreshore, among them the right to “royal fish” – marine mammals. Whenever one was washed up on parts of the Holderness coast the Coastguard was obliged to call him and invite him to collect it.
In William the Conqueror’s day, the Lord Paramount was expected to provide 350 archers, mounted and on foot whenever required, and they were also used to gather taxes.
Mr Chichester Constable was the Bowman’s Warden of the Burton Constable Company.
He was born on the estate, the son of Raleigh Charles Joseph Chichester-Constable by his first wife Gladys. He was educated at Eton where he excelled at sport, before joining the Rifle Brigade at the end of the Second World War.
He then farmed in Berkshire, and worked in advertising and shipping in London where his wife of 26 years ran an estate agency, before returning to East Yorkshire when he inherited the seat. She died in 1989, aged 43.
He was High Sheriff of Humberside from 1979 to 1980, and a Deputy Lieutenant of the county.
Mr Chichester-Constable is survived by his daughter, Rodrica, and his grandson Jack who is the heir to Burton Constable.
Mr Chichester-Constable’s funeral will be held at The Most Holy Sacrament Church, Marton, on Monday (Dec 19) at 2pm.