Obituary: Lady Clarissa Collin, former Deputy Lieutenant

Lady Clarissa Collin, who has died at 82, was a was a former Deputy Lieutenant and High Sheriff for North Yorkshire, who also served as a magistrate and who cultivated the beautiful Wytherstone Gardens in the North York Moors village of Pockley.

Lady Clarissa Collin

Lady Clarissa Collin, who has died at 82, was a was a former Deputy Lieutenant and High Sheriff for North Yorkshire, who also served as a magistrate and who cultivated the beautiful Wytherstone Gardens in the North York Moors village of Pockley.

A descendant of the extinct Earls of Feversham, she was born Clarissa Duncombe in October 1938, the only child of Charles William Slingsby Duncombe, the third and last Earl of Feversham, and Lady Anne Dorothy Wood, daughter of the Earl of Halifax, a former Viceroy of India. Lady Clarissa’s godmother was Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The princess was among the guests in December 1966 when Lady Clarissa married the former Colstream Guardsman Major Nicholas Spencer Compton Collin, whose family estate was at Pockley.

The century-old former vicarage there had almost no garden when Lady Clarissa moved in from her family home at Nawton Tower. But with horticulture in her blood, she set about creating Wytherstone Gardens.

Inspiration came from Jim Russell, an award-winning plantsman, when he gave her some small unnamed tree seedlings, and her passion for plants and trees began. After his death in 1996 and with his sister’s permission, she saved part of his personal plant collection.

Set in eight acres of rolling countryside and 500 feet above sea level, Wytherstone is a paradise of rare and unlikely plants that are not meant to survive the vicious north east winds that batter it during the winter months.

The landscape is divided and includes a sunken garden, arboretum and wildlife pond, Mediterranean garden, orchard and conservatory garden. They opened to the public in 2008, with the proceeds donated to such local charities as the York and North Yorkshire Community Foundation, of which Lady Clarissa was a trustee. She also helped raise funds for the church and village hall in Pockley, dispensing teas at her house.

Major Collin died in 2004 and Lady Clarissa is survived by her son, Frederick, and daughter, Laura.