Obituary: Maurice De Soissons, countryside campaigner, author and historian

Maurice de Soissons, pictured in 1991 Picture: Archant

Maurice de Soissons, pictured in 1991 Picture: Archant

An author and countryside campaigner has passed away at the age of 91.

Maurice de Soissons died peacefully at the Norfolk Hospice, Tapping House, in the early hours of Friday.

Mr de Soissons, from Brancaster, wrote books on the history of Brancaster Staithe and its fishing families, Holkham and its tenant farmers, Telford in Shropshire and Welwyn Garden City, which his father, the architect Louis de Soissons, designed.

He also wrote two countryside novels - Bloodlines and Rearing Field.

Born at Welwyn Garden City, Mr de Soissons went to Marlborough College, in Wiltshire. After National Service, the early 1950s, he went out to the then Rhodesia to farm. There he met fellow ex-pat Patricia Reynolds, who he married in 1956.

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The couple returned to Britain, in the early 1960s and bought a cottage in Sedgeford.

Mr de Soissons worked for the Brussels-based International Iron and Steel Confederation before he retired to concentrate on his writing.

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He became chair of CPRE (Campaign for the Protection of Rural England) Norfolk in 1995, vice-chair in 1996 and was its vice-president from then until his death.

Rosemary Bryan, who knew Mr de Soissons when both worked on a farming magazine in Rhodesia in the 1950s, was the planning case worker for the CPRE in west Norfolk.

She recalls meeting up with him, out of the blue, in Woolworths in King's Lynn, after both returned to England.

'He cared very much for the countryside and how development impacted on it, he was a very good chairman,' she said.

'He was just a very nice person, really polite. He was a real gentleman, a lovely man.'

Mr de Soissons was predeceased by his wife, Patricia. He leaves sons Philip and Oliver, daughter Claire, granddaughter Rose and great-grandchildren Owen and Emily.

His funeral is being held at St Mary's Church, Burnham Deepdale on Tuesday, March 5 (1pm).

The service and interment will be followed by refreshments at the village hall.

Donations to the hospice may be made at the service, or sent via John Lincoln funeral directors in Hunstanton.

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