EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: SOS to find saviour for Churchill funeral boat
EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: SOS to find saviour for Winston Churchill funeral boat
As an occasion of sombre splendour, the state funeral of Sir Winston Churchill was unequalled, not least for the dipping of the cranes in an unscripted final salute as the funeral barge Havengore headed along the Thames.
Now, though, I can disclose that Havengore’s fate hangs in the balance.
Chris Ryland, the retired businessman who bought her for nearly £800,000 in 2006 and spent over £1.5million restoring her, has concluded that, at 74, he needs to hand over to someone younger.
As an occasion of sombre splendour, the state funeral of Sir Winston Churchill was unequalled, not least for the dipping of the cranes in an unscripted final salute as the funeral barge Havengore headed along the Thames
His father-in-law’s passion, he adds, stems from watching Churchill’s funeral procession after hitch-hiking with a school friend from Gloucestershire
‘Unless we find someone to take her on, she could rapidly fall into disrepair and be lost,’ his son-in-law, Mike Ryland-Epton, tells me, explaining that running costs amount to £100,000 a year.
Yacht brokers, says Ryland-Epton, are unable to find a buyer for what was originally a Thames surveying vessel, while an appeal to the Government for help elicited an acknowledgement but ‘no real interest’.
His father-in-law’s passion, he adds, stems from watching Churchill’s funeral procession after hitch-hiking with a school friend from Gloucestershire to London to join millions standing in silence on that freezing day in 1965.
Forty years later, hearing that Havengore was being sold — and taken abroad by the prospective buyer — he matched the asking price and promised to move the 85ft vessel to London and keep her there.
The deal was done, only for Ryland to discover that Havengore, launched in 1956 and constructed from oak and teak, needed massive restoration. ‘It’s a constant battle,’ explains Mike Ryland-Epton.
But it paid off, with the Havengore taking her place in ceremonial occasions, including the Diamond Jubilee river pageant in 2012, when nine members of the Royal Family were on board.
The boat bears a brass plaque where Churchill’s coffin lay, inscribed with the words of Richard Dimbleby, commentating on the day of the funeral: ‘And so Havengore sails into history — not even the Golden Hinde has borne so great a man.’
But will Havengore now sail into oblivion?
Bond producer could be ringing Bell for 007 role
The name’s Elliot, Billy Elliot. So could Jamie Bell, who shot to film fame aged 14 as the dancing son of a County Durham miner, swap his ballet shoes for a Walther PPK handgun?
I ask only because the actor, 36, was specially invited to a dinner where the James Bond producers, Barbara Broccoli and her half-brother Michael G. Wilson, were awarded BFI fellowships. Bell was accompanied by his wife, the Hollywood star Kate Mara, 39.
Could Jamie Bell, who shot to film fame aged 14 as the dancing son of a County Durham miner, swap his ballet shoes for a Walther PPK handgun?
Bond stars in attendance at the Mayfair bash at Claridge’s included Ralph Fiennes, 59, who played M, and Naomie Harris, 45, aka Moneypenny
Bond stars in attendance at the Mayfair bash at Claridge’s included Ralph Fiennes, 59, who played M, and Naomie Harris, 45, aka Moneypenny.
Broccoli, 62, says she won’t rush into casting Daniel Craig’s successor as 007: ‘I’d say that filming is at least two years away. It’s a reinvention of Bond.’
He’s found love with Isabelle de La Bruyere, a director of Christie’s, as I disclosed last month. Now, there’s another reason for the Earl of Snowdon to feel perky. His eponymous company, David Linley Holdings, through which he runs his bespoke furniture business, has just reported a £171,000 pre-tax profit — a profound recovery from the previous year when the business sustained a £2.4million loss. Still, the Queen’s nephew, 60, won’t be blowing it all on romantic frivolities for Isabelle: the company still has net liabilities of £4.25million.
Pendleton’s steering clear of those aisles
Having found love again following a heart-breaking divorce, Olympic gold medallist Victoria Pendleton has ruled out exchanging vows with her boyfriend, former Special Boat Service hero Louis Tinsley, 38.
‘I don’t need to walk up the aisle again,’ she tells me at the launch party for an exhibition of Alistair Guy’s photography at the Home Grown club in Marylebone. ‘I realise I may have done it the first time because people expect you to do it.’
The cyclist turned jockey, 41, who was married for five years to sports scientist Scott Gardner until 2018, adds: ‘It’s just a paper at the end of the day — an expensive piece of paper.’
The search is on for someone to look after the horses that pull the royal ceremonial carriages. The liveried helper’s job is described as an opportunity to play a part in events ‘that are enjoyed by millions’. The post, based at the Royal Mews in London, comes with accommodation and a salary described as ‘competitive’. The new helper must have stable-management experience and be a ‘capable rider’. ‘It’s knowing the horses are ready to play their vital role in royal events,’ says the advert on the royal website.
Camilla and the elephant in the room
It’s a quandary faced by many toffs: what to do with all those politically incorrect artefacts dotted around one’s stately pile?
Lady Camilla Beresford, whose father the Marquess of Waterford owns the 2,500-acre Curraghmore estate in Ireland, reveals her family hid their stuffed animals and elephant trunk from visitors.
Lady Camilla Beresford reveals her family hid their stuffed animals and elephant trunk from visitors.
‘It’s quite tricky, because when you’re open to the public, people have different views, which I’m fully understanding of,’ the 26-year-old aspiring fashion designer trills to Tatler.
‘The elephants were killed 400 to 500 years ago. They think my dad did it last week or something.’
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