Sir Marcus Worsley

Sir Marcus Worsley
Sir Marcus Worsley
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SIR Marcus Worsley, who has died aged 87, played a leading role in the life of the region, beginning in 1973 when he inherited the baronetcy and the family seat of Hovingham Hall between Helmsley and Malton, moving there from London.

He was a man of wide interests, ranging from woodlands, architecture and architectural heritage to the Church of England, music, reading, scholarship, cricket, archaeology and dialect.

His public life started in 1959 when he was elected Conservative MP for Keighley where he served until 1964 and was Parliamentary Private Secretary to former Daily Telegraph editor Bill Deedes, Minister of Health, and Enoch Powell, Minister Without Portfolio.

In 1966 he was elected MP for Chelsea where he served until 1974. He was founder secretary of the One Nation Group and committed much energy to supporting the country’s entrance into what was then the Common Market.

He was also Second Church Estates Commissioner and enjoyed a period in New York as part of the UK delegation to the United Nations.

Marcus Worsley was the eldest son of Sir William Worsley and his wife Joyce, elder daughter of Sir John Brunner.

He went to Eton and then joined his family regiment, the Green Howards (1943-47) where he was commissioned as a lieutenant and was seconded to the Royal West African Frontier Force, serving in India.

On leaving the Army, he read Modern History at New College, Oxford, graduating in 1949, and for three years from 1950 he worked for the BBC European Service.

In 1955, he married Bridget Assheton, eldest daughter of the first Lord Clitheroe, of Downham Hall, Lancashire. Their first child, William, was born in 1956, followed by Sarah in 1958, Giles in 1961 and Peter in 1963.

Following the death of his father, he resigned as MP, and the family moved permanently to Yorkshire. The many activities he became engaged in reflected the variety of his interests.

His commitment to heritage and architecture was such that he served the National Trust for many years, first at a regional level as chairman of the Yorkshire Committee and later as chairman of the Properties Committee and deputy chairman of the National Trust.

His love of woodlands made him an expert in their management, and he was never happier than when walking with the family in the woods at Hovingham or visiting forests across the world with the Royal Forestry Society with which he was involved for many years and of which he became chairman.

Patron of All Saints Hovingham, Sir Marcus was committed to the Church of England both locally, as lay reader and church warden, and nationally, for many years being a member of the General Synod. From 1974 to 1984 he was a Church Commissioner.

His fondness of music, and in particular that of Purcell and Handel, was echoed in his long-term support of the Hovingham Festival, the Ryedale Festival, the North York Moors Festival and the York Early Music Festival. He was committed to local service as a JP, becoming a magistrate in 1957 and serving as chairman of the Malton Bench from 1983 to 1990.

In 1982 he was High Sheriff of North Yorkshire, and for five years from 1988 he was Honorary Colonel, 2nd Bn, Yorkshire Volunteers.

Elected as Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and of the Royal Society of Arts, in 2000 he was awarded an honorary doctorship by York University – recognition of his dedication to reading and scholarship.

Other interests led to his being president of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society (1991), the Scarborough Cricket Festival,
the Yorkshire Archaeological Society and the Yorkshire Dialect Society.

From 1987 to 1999 he was Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, as his father had been before him. Accompanied by Lady Worsley, he undertook countless functions across the county, sharing his abiding interest in the county, its institutions and people. He oversaw many Royal visits, particularly enjoying those involving the Queen and his sister, the Duchess of Kent. He took special pride in investitures of the BEM which were carried out at Hovingham Hall.

A devoted husband, father and grandfather, he was deeply affected by the death of his wife in 2004 and of his son Giles in 2006, his profound Christian faith providing some comfort.

Sir Marcus is survived by his children William, Sarah and Peter, and 12 grandchildren.

A Memorial Service in York Minster will be held on Thursday, January 31, at 2pm to which all are welcome.