Should I write a blog, should I join the condemnation of these anarcho millenariarists or should I carry on. Without much enthusiasm I decide on the last course.
Glorious second day of the year. The sun is forecast to shine all day and like a two year old I need a trip. The Downs calls. The simple run from Amberley to Sutton and back. A pure Downs walk, the sun so bright on the sea one can barely look,the weald stretching on and on to the North.
Its muddy and hard going but just before Bignor Hill with its radio masts one comes to the lovely Toby’s Stone. Many times I have passed this mounting block. That day I took note. On the top step Toby 1898-1955. Underneath the words which the author RL Stevenson wrote for his Samoan grave,
This be the verse you grave for me;
“Here he lies where he longed to be,
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.”
With views across the forest to the sea one way and across the wide Arun plain the other, a beautiful memorial. Underneath Beryl 1886-1960. Robert 1916-87. Rosemary 1918-1997. A family,but was there some tragedy involved with the children not marrying,having children? I googled. And blow me.
This is of course the memorial to the huntsman James Webtworth Fitzwilliam(Toby). Over the years anti hunt fanatics have despoiled this lovely stone many times. No doubt the local foxes appreciate such gestures. He comes from the very aristocratic, Yorkshire based, coal mining enriched Wentworth family and at one time was heir to the Milton title. And therein lies the story.
He like his father married a chorus girl. With frigid debs the alternative the attractions of high stepping chorus girls is plain. But his mother the notorious Elvie objected. She took him to court claiming that he was not of the line and illegitimate. She should know! In 1951 the courts agreed and Toby was disinherited. Did this curse, this stain, this cloud affect his children’s prospects, it cannot have helped. I do not know but it is the stuff of if not great novels then Victorian melodramas.
But that day the sun shone all day but the mud meant I cut the walk short and late lunched back in Amberley where a loud family party full of Japsers and Lucindas and their lego nearly ruined my steak and kidney. But at least despite my illegitimacy I kept my inheritance