Norfolk country house squire’s gift to the nation to be commemorated in living history event
PUBLISHED: 18:28 05 August 2019 | UPDATED: 21:29 05 August 2019
The life of the owner of one of Norfolk’s best-loved country estates will be commemorated at the weekend, in a living history event featuring characters from the 1800s to the 1960s.
Known as the Last Squire, Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer, of Felbrigg Hall, died in 1969, leaving the 17th century mansion and its grounds to the National Trust.
A tragic figure who was forced to hide his sexuality to the outside world at a time when homosexuality was illegal and gay men could face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, Ketton-Cremer was a respected biographer and historian, also serving as High Sheriff of Norfolk in the early 1950s and playing a part in the founding of the University of East Anglia.
He inherited the Felbrigg estate after the death of his father in 1933, and went on to devote his life to preserving the hall and its hundreds of acres of surrounding woods and parkland.
In 1946, he planted two avenues of birch trees in a 'Victory V' shape as a memorial to his younger brother Richard, who was killed in Crete during the Second World War.
Keen to mark the 50th anniversary of the squire's bequest to the nation, National Trust volunteer Robert Wynn came up with the idea of holding a series of living history events featuring Ketton-Cremer and his ancestors.
"As volunteers, we felt there ought to be some kind of recognition of the fact that Felbrigg Hall has been part of the National Trust for 50 years, so we thought it would be nice to portray a hundred years of family ownership," Mr Wynn explained.
The retired department store manager, who has been a volunteer at Felbrigg since 2008, will be playing the part of Ketton-Cremer's father Wyndham, with Andy Weston taking on the role of the squire, and other Felbrigg volunteers representing the family from the turn of the century to the 1960s.
Mr Wynn thanked Felbrigg Hall staff and his fellow volunteers for their support, including Sheringham Community Wardrobe and National Trust volunteer Nona Gray, who helped with costumes.
"We have been absolutely staggered with the results and it is incredibly gratifying to see so many people want to be involved," he said.
The 50th anniversary living history event, which will also feature music and classic cars, runs on Saturday and Sunday (August 10 and 11) from 11am-5pm. Normal admission charges apply.
For more information, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk
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