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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Great and the good salute ‘Lordy’

LONE PIPER: The Lowther Estate’s deerstalker Greg Cattanach was invited by Lord Lonsdale’s family to play his pipes as the Earl’s coffin was taken to and from the church

By Kelly Eve

ABOUT 450 people from all walks of life paid their final respects to a Cumbrian peer who “put his heart and soul into his beloved county”.

A fitting tribute to the seventh Earl of Lonsdale, 83, the founder of the Lowther Horse Driving Trials, saw horses pulling a four-in-hands carriage as the funeral cortege made its way to St Michael’s Church near Penrith.

Saturday’s thanksgiving service for James Hugh William Lowther, who died on May 23 in Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary, took place in the small church in the grounds of his family’s historic estate, nestling in the shadow of Lowther Castle.

It was only coincidence that the Earl’s funeral took place on the same day as the Epsom Derby after Motivator, in which he had a share, won the race 12 months earlier.

The Lowther Estate’s deerstalker Greg Cattanach was invited by Lord Lonsdale’s family to play his pipes as the Earl’s coffin was taken to and from the church.

Three of the Earl’s four sons – Charles, William and Jim – and their brother-in-law Sir Charles Lawson carried the coffin, topped with a floral arrangement of cream and yellow roses, into the church.

Inside, readings were given by seven of the Earl’s eight children and the packed congregation sang three hymns. The choir of Penrith Singers, together with conductor Heather Tomlinson and organist Michael Town, sang Psalm 121 and Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus.

Lord Ullswater gave a personal tribute highlighting the Earl’s love and devotion to Cumbria, his wife Caroline, who rekindled his love of horse racing, his family and the Lowther Estate.

He also talked about how the Earl turned around the fortunes of the estate, which had built up massive debts under his great uncle the Yellow Earl. Lord Ullswater also described how his friend was affectionately known as ‘Lordy’ and was a familiar sight dressed in a tweed jacket, brown shows and with a “terrier or two in tow”.

Lord Ullswater said: “Another chapter of the Lowther family is coming to a close. My memories will be of a man who put his heart and soul into his beloved Cumbria to which he was so devoted.”

He also spoke of how Lordy was “as happy being president of the Patterdale Dog Day as he was giving a speech in the House of Lords”.

After the service, a hunting horn was blown by John Harrison, from Ullswater Foxhounds, by the graveside as the Earl’s coffin was lowered into the ground.

Lady Jane Benson, one of the Earl’s daughters, is joint master of the Ullswater Foxhounds. The Earl has been buried in the church grounds in front of his mother Viscountess Muriel and just yards from his uncle, the Yellow Earl. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, friends of Lord and Lady Lonsdale, were represented on Saturday by Sir Brian McGrath.

The service was led by the Rev Clive Pattinson, from Dacre. He was joined by the Bishop of Penrith, the Rt Rev James Newcome, and the Rev Terry Hall.

Among the mourners joining Lady Lonsdale and the Earl’s eight children were Lord and Lady Inglewood, Robert and Jane McCosh from Dalemain, Joe Harris, Victor Gubbins, Lord Ballyedmond, Robin Burgess, chief executive of Cumbrian Newspapers, the NFU’s Peter Allen, representatives from Cumbria County Council and Penrith Farmers’ & Kidd’s, and many farm tenants together with estate staff. Around 30 floral tributes, many from family and friends, lined the path to the church.

They included arrangements from the Penrith Royal British Legion, of which the Earl was a former president after serving in World War Two, and ITV Border, where he was a former director and chairman.

Outside the church, onlookers included families who regularly visit Lowther Holiday Park, just one of the many successful businesses created under the Lowther name during the Earl’s lifetime.

The congregation was invited to celebrate the Earl’s life afterwards in a marquee specially put up outside the churchyard.

Proceeds from a collection will be shared between the Countryside Alliance, Hospice at Home and the Lowther Church Restoration Fund.

Saturday’s funeral arrangements were managed by Richardson’s from Penrith.

The Earl was president of the Lowther Horse Driving Trials and Country Fair. Organisers are also mourning the loss of patron, Sir John Miller, who also died recently.

Sir John, who died on May 17, aged 87, was one of the most influential figures in the equestrian world and former crown equerry to the Queen.

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