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Harry Worsfold (1839–1939)

‘The life and times of a gentleman of Surrey’

Janet Hilderley is the author of Mr Disraeli's "Rattle", the love story of Benjamin Disraeli and Mary Wyndham Lewis as they traversed the politics and social scene of Victorian Britain, and the well received Mrs Catherine Gladstone: 'A woman not quite of her time'.


In my grandparents’ front parlour there hung a portrait of my great-grandfather, Harry Worsfold. His tales of old Surrey together with its ghosts and superstitions enthralled me. Close by lay the great family Bible. In this he entered the birth of each of his twelve children. Later he added their marriages and the arrival of his numerous grandchildren. Harry was born in 1839, when Queen Victoria was but a girl. As a boy he witnessed a public hanging, threw stones at passing coaches and tolled the church bell for the Duke of Wellington’s funeral. At ten years of age he became “buttons” to Ripley’s squire and lived in that village for most of his life. Service was not to his style and he became a stockman. As sexton to the parish church, his life became interwoven with that of the great and the good who lived in the surrounding estates. Harry lived through a period of intense social change and would boast that he was the last of the parish constables. The barbarity of the Great War shocked him. He agreed with George V: “Grandma would never have allowed this.” When his son-in-law, George, left the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) garden at Wisley to fight in the Great War, Harry, now a widower, joined his daughter and her baby son in their RHS cottage. On 18 February 1939, George wrote in the family Bible, Today Harry Worsfold (1839 to 1939) died. He said he was the last of the parish constables. He was certainly the last of a breed of men.


Paperback ISBN: 978-1-898595-62-5
Paperback Price: £12.99 / $19.95
Release Date: July 2015
   
Page Extent / Format: 224 pp. / 216 x 138 mm
Illustrated: No
   

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Reviewed in The Guildford Dragon and the November 2015 edition of Surrey Life.


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