DETAILS have emerged about a warm bond between King Edward Vll and Lawrence Wrightson who, as mentioned here last week, was his personal attendant for a number of years.

Dorothy Lincoln got in touch after reading that piece and passed on some intriguing news about Lawrence, who was her great uncle. She revealed that when the monarch was staying at Wynyard Hall near Sedgefield he learned that his attendant’s mother, Eleanor Wrightson, lived not far away at Low Coniscliffe.

So he had a telegram sent asking her to come over and meet him.

She made the journey and had a cosy personal chat with His Majesty in the hall’s Statue Gallery. It was recorded at the time that he put her at ease with his “customary charming grace”.

It was no doubt a highlight of her life and a gesture which must have delighted her son. Wynyard was the home of Lord and Lady Londonderry. Another example of the special relationship came when the king was nearing the end of his life in 1910.

He asked Lawrence to take care of his favourite dog, a terrier cross called Caesar, after he passed away.

He was only too happy to agree but when the time came the royal widow, Queen Alexandra, decided to keep Caesar herself. When Edward died, Lawrence was the only person apart from the royal family allowed into his room.

Edward’s last drink was a cup of tea. Lawrence took the cup and saucer and stored them away unwashed, meaning to retain them in that state always as his own keepsake. Unfortunately, a maid found them and washed them, unaware of their history.

Lawrence kept them safe for the remainder of his life.

He walked in a prominent position beside the gun carriage bearing the coffin in the state funeral procession.

In happier times back in 1903, Lawrence mentioned to the king that he had thoughts of setting up a cricket club for the staff of Buckingham Palace.

The speedy outcome was that a pitch was set out in the palace grounds and his majesty declared that all the necessary equipment should be ordered at his expense.

Lawrence was at the king’s side during visits to royalty in several nations on the continent, and also when overseas royalty came to this country.

He received medals from the emperors of Germany and Russia and the kings of Spain and Greece, and wore them on state occasions along with a Coronation medal. He lived in London with his wife, Mabel, and in retirement they moved to Canvey Island. Mrs Lincoln, now retired from a distinguished career in clinical bio-chemistry, has many documents, photographs and cuttings in her Darlington home about her great uncle’s royal duties.

He was brought up in Piercebridge, where his father, Frank Wrightson, was stationmaster. He worked at Raby Castle before joining the royal household and after the king’s death served as an usher at the House of Lords.

His brother William was Mrs Lincoln’s grandfather. He and two other brothers, Francis and Frederick, all had long careers on the railways.

Caesar had an inscription on his collar saying: “I am Caesar. I belong to the king.”

He became the most famous dog in Britain for a while, thanks to a book published in 1910. It was called Where’s Master by Caesar, the King’s Dog. It was an instant best seller that ran to nine reprints in its first year. It was cleverly written as if by the dog itself, with many descriptions of scenes involving the king, but the actual author was not named.

ANYONE who receives a large sum of cash would be ill-advised to take it on a pub crawl. But that, alas, is what Willie Hutchinson did. He was given a cheque for £530 and nine shillings, possibly from a bequest, in 1872. It was a lot of money then and would be equal to many thousands today. He worked in a solicitor’s office in Bishop Auckland, so could have got advice on what to do with it.

But he took it to his friend WJ Manners, landlord of the Pollards Inn in Etherley Lane.

The pair walked to a bank in the town centre, where the cheque was changed for £500 in Bank of England notes, £30 on gold coins and nine shillings in silver coins.

All this was put into a black leather bag which was locked and secured with two straps.

It is almost certain that Hutchinson had never before in his life had anything like as much cash. They seem to have decided then that a jolly celebration was called for. Manners carried the bag for his friend as they set off.

“They called at several public houses in the town on their way to the Pollards Inn,” reported the Darlington and Stockton Times. It seems likely the pair would be merry and somewhat bleery-eyed by the time they met a fellow called Stephenson, who went with them to the Pollards hostelry “to have a glass.”

The Northern Echo:
Lawrence Wrightson’s wife Mabel

After they arrived, Manners went down to a cellar and then to a cow byre, where he fell asleep.

Later Hutchinson realised the bag of money was missing but he couldn’t remember what happened to it. Manners was roused, but said he knew nothing about it. He was in such a haze that he could remember nothing after meeting Stephenson.

Police were called and they searched every part of the inn. A reward of £15 was offered but the bag did not turn up. The only consolation for Hutchinson was that payment on the banknotes could be stopped.

He eventually got some money replaced, but he must have regretted going on the pub crawl.

ADISTRESS fund was launched to help dale farming families who were struggling to make good their losses in the summer of 1947 following the most disastrous wintry weather in living memory.

Just about every part of Teesdale, Weardale and Swaledale was brought to a halt at times by the deep snow which lasted well into the spring.

The previous year had been a poor one for hay so it became almost impossible to feed all the cattle and sheep, and there were many losses.

Many roads and railway lines blocked, making it difficult to get milk away, bring in food supplies and get people to work. The whole area suffered seriously and many farmers faced ruin.

The distress fund was opened by the National Farmers Union at its North Yorkshire and South Durham office in Darlington.

It raised £1,183 in a fairly short time. A number of churches held special collections.

Several rural firms which dealt with farmers sent donations, as did WIs and various other local organisations.

The Northern Echo:
Lawrence Wrightson's mother, Eleanor Wrightson, who chatted to the king

There were a few individual sums of £100 handed in, but the majority seemed to be below £5, and they went down to half a crown.

The sum raised was reasonable, but considering the amount of hardship inflicted it would have to be spread extremely thinly.

Official advice handed out to farmers was to start planning for the next winter and get as much fodder as possible laid in just in case the weather was extreme once more.

It was pointed out that they had to try to prepare for the worst rather than just hoping that conditions would be easier. As it turned out most farmers made sure they were ell prepared, but the following winter was much milder.