Monday, 04 July 2022

Debs delight

STONOR has been home to the Stonor family for more than 850 years and is now home to The Lord

STONOR has been home to the Stonor family for more than 850 years and is now home to The Lord and Lady Camoys. The history of the house inevitably contributes to the atmosphere, unpretentious yet grand. A façade of warm brick with Georgian windows conceals older buildings dating back to the 12th century and a 14th century Catholic chapel sits on the south east-corner.

Visitors will find a fine display of Japanese contemporary ceramics complementing other ceramics from England, Korea, and Denmark. Lord Camoys has collected contemporary ceramics over 22 years and has had the privilege of meeting many of the artists in person on his travels to the Far East and Denmark. See how contemporary art sits so comfortably in an older setting.

Also on display are the dresses, worn at various events during the debutante season, which were on public display at Kensington Palace in 2009 and 2010 in an exhibition called “The last debutantes, 1958: Season of Change.” Lady Camoys was one of the last debutantes to be presented— and to curtsey — to the Queen in 1958, after which the tradition ended.

GERRY HANSON gave a talk about author Rudyard Kipling at the February meeting of Henley Probus Club, held at Badgemore Golf Club.

He said Kipling saw his books as being his memorial. He had written an autobiography, probably reluctantly, but he died before it was complete.

One book on Kipling had been commissioned by his daughter but when it had been written she banned its publication for two years and later said she could not remember why.

Kipling’s output was prodigious. He had more than 50 books and novels published, plus more than 1,000 poems and many newspaper articles.

He is always associated with India where he was first as a child before returning to UK and going to a school in Portsmouth he called the “house of desolation”.

This was the unhappiest time of his life, when he was beaten and bullied. The only respite was when he holidayed with his aunt and uncle.

He was delighted to return to India at the age of 16 and was soon at work.

However, the scars of those six awful years remained with him all his life and are reflected in some of his early books.His father, John Lockwood Kipling, had become an architect to the Victoria & Albert Museum and then moved to Bombay as a professor in the school of arts and crafts.

Rudyard, who suffered from poor eyesight, went to Lahore to be the assistant editor of the local newspaper. He described himself as being “50 per cent of the editorial staff”. They managed to produce the paper daily under enormous pressure.

After three years of “hack work”, he began reporting. It was at this time that his fascination with the lifestyle and character of the ordinary British soldier began and which was to remain with him all his life.

This certainly influenced his work. In particular, he recalled the coarse treatment received by soldiers from London publicans — “We’ll have no Red Coats here”.

The death of Kipling’s son at the Battle of Loos (1915) affected him deeply.

It has been said that he had sought to live out his frustrated military ambitions through his son and to this end he managed to secure a commission for him, perhaps through the influence of Stanley Baldwin.

But the son’s eyesight was defective, although not as bad as Rudyard’s.

He lies in one of the many graves that have the inscription “Known only to God” and in consequence Kipling played a large part in creating what is now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Gerry illustrated many of his points by reference to and quotations from several poems, in particular If (“You’ll be a man, my son”), Gunga Din and Take Up The White Man’s Burden.

But he said that Kipling objected to the extent that he was frequently misquoted.

He foresaw that India and the colonies would eventually become independent and considered that there should be systematic preparation for this eventuality.

He was offered two orders of knighthood, the appointment to be a Companion of Honour and the Order of Merit but he declined them all.

He accepted the Nobel Prize for Literature but was never made Poet Laureate.

At the March meeting, members enjoyed a talk by Catherine Bromley, of Collective Legal Solutions, about how to protect inherited assets.

The most important question is “Do you have the upper hand when planning how your survivors will inherit from you?”

Firstly, inheritance tax is payable on the value of your estate over a set amount but this can be reduced by sharing or transferring to a partner on death.

Members were advised to regularly review tax liability because legislation changes.The cost of caring will be carried in full with assets over a certain limit but this limit can also change from year to year.

The current government is considering a cap on the nursing part of the costs. It is known that up to 10 per cent of the population will eventually need long-term care.

The concept of “sideways inheritance” transfers assets to a partner through several methods, which will also reduce liability on death.

Members were advised to check their wills and any power-of-attorney agreement in force to ensure that the Court of Protection does not control the assets of a person who has developed incapacity to handle his/her own affairs.

Again, there are different forms of Power of Attorney.

The speaker summarised her talk by stressing the importance of ensuring that wills and other pertinent documents are always in order.

Henley Men’s Probus meets at Badgemore Golf Club on the second Tuesday of the month at 10.30am.

For more information, henleyprobusclub.

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