Obituary: Henry Tempest of Broughton Estate, Skipton

Henry Tempest in his study at Broughton Hall near Skipton l
Henry Tempest in his study at Broughton Hall near Skipton l
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HENRY Tempest, who has died at 93, was a former Deputy Lieutenant for North Yorkshire, an accountant, county councillor and computing pioneer who began the process of turning a dilapidated stately home near Skipton into a thriving business centre.

Broughton Hall had been the seat of the Tempest baronetcy for at least six centuries, but when in 1970 Mr Tempest inherited the building and surrounding 3,000-acre estate, there was neither heating nor a sound roof.

He began the process or restoration by cutting costs, selling assets and turning old stables into offices. By the time he handed the running over to his son, it was on its way to becoming an award-winning business park.

Henry Tempest was the second son of Brigadier General Roger and Valerie Arthur Tempest. After education at the Oratory School in Oxfordshire, he went up to Christ Church, Oxford, to study maths and physics. But the war interrupted that, and in 1944 he joined the Scots Guards on an emergency commission.

As the advancing allied troops crossed the Rhine in 1945, he took a bullet that had ricocheted off his sten gun, causing a head wound. He remained in the field until his injured comrades had been evacuated and a second vehicle had been summoned. It made it back while the first hit a mine and did not. “Good manners saved my life”, he later observed.

After service, Mr Tempest farmed in northern Rhodesia, building a house on a tract of uncultivated land. It was while in Africa that he trained as an account and met and married his wife, Janet.

In the early Sixties, with unfavourable winds of change blowing over Rhodesia, he brought his young family back to England, joining Oxford’s nuclear physics department as a financial officer, learning the early computer programming language, Fortran, and creating the university’s first accountancy software.

He came to Yorkshire, and to the indebted Broughton Hall, following the sudden death of his elder brother, Stephen, in 1970. The considerable death duties would have done for many an estate but Henry and Janet, drawing on their frugal experience in Africa and his financial knowledge, set in train the process of saving the place.

Three years after arriving, he was elected to North Yorkshire County Council, where he remained until 1987, and from 1981 to 1998 he was the county’s Deputy Lieutenant.

He was also a Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and a member of Pratts, Boodles and the Lansdowne Club.

However, he was perhaps more familiar to readers of Country Life as the inspiration for the eccentric Lord Tottering in the Tottering-by-Gently cartoons by his daughter, Annie.

In real-life, Mr Tempest was also not immune to eccentricity, climbing Pendle Hill to drink Champagne on the occasion of his 80th birthday, and, at 90, sliding down the bannister at Broughton Hall to demonstrate to his grandchildren the correct way to do it.

In the 1980s, the running of Broughton Hall was taken over by Mr Tempest’s elder son, Roger, under whom it expanded greatly. In 2004, Janet, a charity worker on good terms with Mother Teresa, survived a fall from a camel on a safari holiday.

She survives him, along with children Bridget, Annie, Mary, Roger and Piers, seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren.