Anne Lloyd Jones, who died last month aged 102, always yearned to live on the greensand. A keen gardener, she found this soil to be the best for her plants. In her middle life she found her way to the greensand, in East Sussex and then West Sussex.
I am sorry that I only knew Anne for the last nine years of her life, when she lived with her dog Basil in a bungalow called Willow Hill at Rogate in West Sussex, with a beautiful willow-tree outside. I visited her there and much enjoyed her company, she had strong views about people and events, an interest in public paths and access, and a great sense of humour. She thoroughly approved of my efforts to get the infamous ‘Hoogstraten’ path opened, and herself was a robust campaigner for rights of way.
I joined her family at Willow Hill for her centenary celebrations in June 2012 with the Queen’s card on the mantelpiece. I remember her with great affection.
Anne’s son Richard, who has been a dear friend to me for more than 20 years, wrote a summary of her life which was read at her funeral in Leicester on 7 November. I have reproduced it below.
Anne Lloyd Jones was born in Northampton in June 1912 to Edward and Kate (Kitty) Page. Her father was a company secretary. She and her four brothers and sisters lived in a large house near the old racecourse in Northampton. She went to school in Northampton High School for Girls, where she excelled in history and English. (Only very recently, she was reciting Shakespeare, W E Henley and Kipling, thanks to the drilling in patriotic poetry which she then experienced!)
When she was 14 her father died suddenly, and any opportunity of going to university was denied. On leaving school she obtained work as a typist in Northampton and she acquired the first of many small dogs: and a motorcycle which she named Carnation.
In the late 1920s her mother took in a lodger, Robert from Bethesda in North Wales. He worked for the National Provincial Bank. In due course he was promoted to assistant manager in Hull. They were married in October 1932, Robert having proposed to Anne on a mountain in Snowdonia named Y Garn. Their son Richard was born in Hull in 1933.
Robert was soon promoted to manager of the branch in Warrington, where the family lived a comfortable life in a small house in the nearby Cheshire countryside. There were two cars, and a maid: to Anne’s regret, thanks to the war this was never to be repeated.
In 1938 Robert— known to friends and family as Lloyd—became manager of the Wolverhampton branch, then in Staffordshire. Wolverhampton was of course a manufacturing town, almost, but not quite, part of the Black Country; but it is surrounded by beautiful countryside. They moved into a large, old brick-and-tile cottage, surrounded by farms, four miles north of the town centre. Down the road lay Moseley Old Hall, now National Trust, where Prince Charles (the Charles the Second to be) hid after the Battle of Worcester. The cottage was in the estate of Moseley Hall, where it had been the dower house. The family’s walks were in the grounds, including a lake surrounded by woods; water was pumped to the Hall and the cottage by hydraulic rams.
The cottage had a large orchard and garden, partly surrounded by clipped yew hedges. Here Anne developed her lifelong passion for gardening, and her extensive knowledge of flowers and shrubs. In later years, these were to be her life. One night the cottage was surrounded by incendiary bombs, luckily without damage or injury. The Schumann piano concerto was to be heard in the evening from a Bush Radiogram and plum-labelled 78 discs.
Robert’s final appointment was as manager of the Smith’s Bank Branch, Nottingham, which had been founded in 1660. In 1955 they retired to Sussex. Their first house, in Ashdown Forest had a fine garden, but frosts kept taking the rarer plants. Their next was near the bridge where Pooh Bear dropped his sticks into the stream. Finally they moved to West Sussex where Anne had another garden on the greensand which she coveted.
After Robert died in 1974, Anne moved to Willow Hill, a small house in Rogate , West Sussex. There she developed a particularly splendid small garden which was featured in gardening publications. She enjoyed a view of the South Downs.
Anne lived on her own in Willow Hill for nearly 40 years. She loved drama and opera; until late on she enjoyed visits to the Chichester Festival Theatre and occasionally Glyndebourne. She kept up with current politics, great and small, and was a trenchant and salty commentator in private. Robert’s work did not allow them to take any active part in politics, even if they had been so minded—they were not. But her childhood was spent in the constituency of the famously free-thinking Charles Bradlaugh while Robert’s was spent alongside David Lloyd George’s: so it is not hard to guess their leanings. Anne supported many environmental causes, especially the maintenance of footpaths and rights of way.
She remained fully independent well into her nineties. Only latterly did she need support in Willow Hill where she celebrated her 100th birthday. Soon after, however, it became necessary for her to move into the Cedar House Home at Rothley, very near Eleanor, her elder granddaughter, and she was well looked after and ended her life peacefully there.