Countryman and west Norfolk farmer

A countryman and farmer, John Pope, who devoted his life to improving his family's West Norfolk estate, has died suddenly aged 68.While studying land agency at Cambridge, he undertook a major project to build a new hall on the Watlington estate, near King's Lynn.

A countryman and farmer, John Pope, who devoted his life to improving his family's West Norfolk estate, has died suddenly aged 68.

While studying land agency at Cambridge, he undertook a major project to build a new hall on the Watlington estate, near King's Lynn.

The original house, which had remodelled in the 1830s, had been very severely damaged by fire in 1943. An uncle had lived in the part of the house for some years afterwards but he built a modern house on the same site as a family home between 1963 and 1964.

A fellow undergraduate, Viscount (Nicholas) Ullswater, who later became a very close friend after moving to Norfolk, said: 'It was very far-sighted. It was built on the site of the old house and a beautiful park, so I think that he realised that it was the right place to build it.'


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Always a reserved and private man, but with a great sense of humour, he was an only child of parents, who were also only children. He took on the responsibility for the estate shortly after graduating from Cambridge.

Over the years, he planted extensive blocks of woodland and shelter belts of trees to improve the habitat for shooting and as a sanctuary for birds and waterfowl. The sand and gravel on the estate provided a significant source of income, which helped to fund improvements to the estate, which extends more than two thousand acres, over the past five decades.

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He was highly regarded for his farming, especially given the range of soil types from very light almost blowing sand to peat and some heavier land.

A knowledgeable birdwatcher, it was a motivation for maintaining and improving the estate as wildfowl were attracted to the restored gravel workings. He enjoyed travelling to Africa and especially walking holidays in Spain, where he could enjoy the birds and wildlife.

Shooting was also important on the estate but he was never interested in big bags. The quality of the sport for family, his wide circle of friends and also for let days, was a hallmark of the estate's shoot.

'He was a conscientious and loyal Norfolk CLA (Country Land and Business Association) committee member who took a keen interest in all that we did. We shall miss his company at our events and on our stand at the Royal Norfolk Show,' said Nicola Currie, regional director.

A hospitable man, he was a popular guest on shoots across west Norfolk and had been on good form the day before he died.

He leaves a widow, Anne, and three children, Georgina, Annabel and Edward.

A funeral will be held at the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Watlington, on Friday, January 22 (2pm).

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