My grandfather left the army in 1919 after serving in France with the Life Guards. He inherited Eastnor Castle from his cousin, Lady Henry Somerset, in 1920, but the house came without a butler. He contacted his old regiment to ask if there were any men about to leave who might want the job, and Alistair Birtwhistle’s father, Passmore, applied and got the job.
Passmore (“Birt” or “Mr Birt” to me as he stayed on, in a different role, until the 1970s) married a girl who also worked at Eastnor and lived in the village. Alistair, one of his two sons, was brought up here and has now retired to Cheltenham. He is a talented woodturner and is occasionally tempted back here to do some work for us.
His memories of Eastnor as a boy are clear, and the picture shows him emerging from a cupboard on the guest bedroom landing, where, in 1937, he had been told to hide with his brother so that they could catch a discreet glimpse of Queen Mary as she passed by. Inevitably, they were spotted but not ticked off, at least as far as Alistair could remember.
I look forward to hearing more stories on his next visit.
JH-B 24th September 2010