Charles Anthony Walter Blackwell
1934 - 2014
By David Reidy
Another link with the South Oxhey ancien régime was recently severed with the passing of Charles Blackwell. He died suddenly on 23rd October 2014 aged 79. He was unmarried. A devout Catholic, the funeral service was held in Cambridge on 13th November at the Church of the English Martyrs, followed by private burial. There will be a memorial service at a later date.
Charles was born on 27th November 1934, the only son of Anthony and Betty Blackwell, the former of whom inherited the Oxhey Estate in 1933. Anthony was killed in an explosion whilst on wartime service on 5th July 1942, aged only thirty. Charles, being under twenty one years of age, and thus a minor, did not inherit. However, most of the Estate was compulsorily purchased from the Blackwell trustees by the LCC two years later for the sum of £199,500 [equals approx £7,726, 000 today]. The Blackwell family then moved to a small manor house in Wiltshire. It took Charles many years to accept this loss of the Oxhey Estate which had been in his family’s hands since 1877. The family had also owned land elsewhere in the district before that date- at Harrow Weald, Bushey and Chipperfield.
Charles attended a Catholic prep school before, in the family tradition, progressing to Rugby School between 1948 and 1953 [Kilbracken House] where he was in the Running V111 in 1952 and 1953 [A strong and determined runner who, although the heaviest member of the team, has nevertheless produced excellent results, especially under heavy conditions, according to the school magazine]. He then undertook national service in the Royal Navy before going up to Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he matriculated on 2nd November 1955. He read Economics for Part 1 of the Tripos [second class lower division] and Law for Part 11 [third class honours] and graduated Bachelor of Arts on 21st June 1958. On being admitted to the roll of solicitors on 15th December 1973, he was employed by a couple of City law firms before setting himself up as a sole practitioner in Royston [Herts], specialising in conveyancing and wills. He was working there right up to the date of his death. He was also an active member of the local Catholic church.
I attempted on two occasions to meet Charles to discuss memories of his early days at Oxhey, but regrettably he declined my requests.
It appears that there are now only two people alive who lived at Oxhey Place –Charles’ sister, Ursula Jane [born 1937], and John Akam [born 1936], whose father and grandfather worked for the Blackwell family for many years.