Tuesday, 09 August 2022

Daphne Bewes — July 23, 1941 - May 5, 2015

DAPHNE was born in Nottingham in 1941, the daughter of a man who owned factories making lace.

DAPHNE was born in Nottingham in 1941, the daughter of a man who owned factories making lace.

She went to Moreton Hall School and then art school where she became a textile designer.

She taught textile design at Leicester School of Art before working in London for JRM Designs, where she made some famous cardboard furniture. There is a chair on display at the V&A Museum under her maiden name of Daphne Black.

While at JRM Designs she also worked in the evening at a restaurant in Victoria called Grumbles to earn pin money.

She then went to work for Barbara Hulanicki at Biba and followed its journey from a small shop in Kensington to the Derry & Toms store in Kensington High Street, next to Barkers.

Daphne was then the head buyer of Biba, with an enormous budget, and went to India and Italy to buy things for this huge store. She was a very successful designer and buyer.

Her future husband Rodney and his friends Tom Courtenay and Ian La Frenais, co-writer of The Likely Lads, used to go to Grumbles to ogle the waitresses in their mini-skirts, including Daphne.

Later, when Rodney was on This Is Your Life, the friends talked about going to Grumbles and seeing the waitresses bending over the tables to serve apple crumble and showing their knickers of the same colour as their skirts.

Rodney and his friends thought these girls were unobtainable or, in Likely Lads vernacular, “impossible to pull” yet Rodney succeeded.

The couple were married in 1973 at Fulham registry office near to Rodney’s beloved Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea FC, of which he is a lifelong fan. They had a wonderful wedding breakfast at the White Elephant on the River Thames where they were presented with a wedding cake ordered by La Frenais, which had the message: “TV Star marries shop girl.”

The Bewes’s daughter Daisy was born in the autumn of that year. She would be taken to a crèche at Biba so Daphne could continue her executive job.

In 1976, God took a hand in this saga and the couple were told to expect twins. They had wanted one friend for Daisy but then there were three of them, triplets Joe, Tom and Bill.

Rodney says this ruined Daphne’s career in fashion as she couldn’t take four little babies to work with her so there they were with four children under the age of three.

The couple lived in Putney for more than 25 years, where Rodney rowed for London Rowing Club, before moving to Henley in 2000 where they were very happy. Rodney says that, as an ex-oarsman, the pull of Henley was irresistible.

Daphne died four weeks after suffering a sudden stroke. She received faultless care in the stroke unit at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading. Rodney says the vibe was always a happy one.

Daphne leaves her husband Rodney, children Daisy, Joe, Tom and Bill and, of course, Maurice the cat.

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