The following address was given by Anthony Nicholson at a celebration of Nancy’s life in St Mary and St Catherine Church Bridport on Friday the 12th of September 2014. To enjoy Nancy’s friendship was to experience her great kind-heartedness and her sense of fun.  It is my privilege today to share with you, on their behalf, some of her beloved family’s treasured memories of her. Nancy came from Malta with her mother and two brothers when she was 3 years old and the family settled in Bristol.  Her father was in the Navy and was away for long periods of time.  It was during one of these absences, in the last war, that their house received a direct hit in one of the many air raids suffered by Bristol.  At the time the family were taking cover in the cupboard under the stairs.  The house was completely destroyed but, miraculously, they all survived to be dug out in the morning, covered in dust but completely unharmed.  Even Chummy the dog suffered only a burn on his paw. Alex met Nancy soon after the war when she was working at the Gaumont Cinema, as an usherette.  He had gone see a film called “A Hundred Men and a Girl” starring Deanna Durbin but in the interval he saw a far more beautiful girl than the one starring in the picture.  Picked out under a spotlight and looking wonderful was Nancy selling ice-cream.  He immediately left his seat, spent sixpence on an ice-cream and fell in love.  When he returned to his seat, he told his mate “I’ve just seen the girl that I’m going to marry” - and so they did.  That six penny worth must be the best investment that Alex ever made.  After 58 years of marriage, on the 2nd September 2014, Alex had to say goodbye to his beautiful wife.  He will miss her more than words can say. Both Ann and Georgina have so many happy memories of their mother.  One of Ann’s earliest memories was when her Mummy and Daddy were off out on a Saturday evening and Nancy would come into the bedroom to tuck them in and kiss them goodnight.  She would look up and see her beautiful and glamorous mother.  The scent of Chanel No.5 would followed Nancy out of the room. She always made Ann feel warm, safe, and very, very loved.  Georgina recollects one day running home up Gibbet Lane from the school bus in the summer.  She was running because she could not wait to see her mother.  Nancy was always there waiting for the girls to come home. They would sit on the terrace drinking lemonade and Nancy would tell them what she had done that day, watching Wimbledon, doing the garden.  Nancy always loved flowers and took great care of her garden.  She would cook them a delicious dinner and they would tell her what they had done at school and wait for Daddy to come home.  Georgina remembers thinking that day, “how awful it must be, not to have a mother exactly like mine”.  As she grew up, that thought always stayed with her. Nancy was stunning and very careful about her appearance.  However she could never be described as vain and would far rather spend money on her daughters than herself.  They remember that on a family holiday to Malta, Nancy wore a peach two-piece suit with a matching pill box hat.  Watching her going up the steps of the BOAC plane, they were reminded of Jackie Kennedy boarding Airforce One. Later on, when Ann and Georgina attended Drama College in London, Alex and Nancy gave them their complete and unqualified support, even though they knew them to be joining a very unpredictable profession - they just wanted them to be happy.  Nancy was always very proud of their successes and attended most of their performances. In 2003, when her Grandson Arthur was born, her life was complete.  She loved him more than it seemed possible to love anyone.  The girls joked that she loved him more than them, but that is an accusation, I suspect, that most grandmothers have faced.  Even when she became ill she spoke about him daily and was so happy to see him.  Arthur in turn was wonderful with her - showering her with hugs and kisses and telling her how much he loved her. If you will permit me a personal reminiscence.  My wife Sandra and I treasure memories of Nancy’s hospitality, her wonderful welcome and her lovely smile.  She took an interest in everything that you were doing and was always encouraging and reassuring.  Right up to the very end Nancy always knew and recognised Alex, the girls and Arthur.  Despite her infirmity Alex could always make her smile.  Nancy passed on to all of her family the legacy of love.  She taught them that to love and be loved is all that really matters. We are all of us much richer for knowing Nancy.
Alex and Nancy Coombs
Janet and Reynolds Stone, both distinguished personalities in their own right, occupied The Old Rectory in Litton Cheney from 1953 until Reynold’s death in 1979.  Reynolds Stone was a notable engraver and typographer, Janet an accomplished photographer. REYNOLDS STONE Reynolds Stone was born at Eton on March 13 1909, where both his father and grandfather were house masters. He read history at Magdalene College Cambridge.  After taking his degree in 1930 he became an unofficial apprentice at the Cambridge University Press under Walter Lewis.  Encouraged there by Mr Nobbs, the press overseer, he began experimenting with engraving on metal and wood. A chance meeting on a train from London to Cambridge with Eric Gill, (Stone was carrying four sheets of Gill’s lettering bought at the V & A), resulted in an invitation to stay at Gill’s house at Pigotts.  He left after two weeks having engraved an alphabet under Gill's supervision, who felt that at this point he had nothing further to teach him.  He moved to Taunton to work at the printing firm of Barnicott and Pearce.  During this time he engraved his first bookplate; other commissions followed, which allowed him to leave  Barnicott and Pearce and became an engraver full time.  Among many commissions he engraved his first Royal bookplate for Elizabeth of York (the Queen Mother) and engraved headings for the Nonesuch Shakespeare. In 1937 he was commissioned to engrave the Royal Arms for the Order of Service for the Coronation of King George VI, (he had already engraved a bookplate for the then Princess Elizabeth), to be printed at Cambridge, but possessors of the first edition of this most handsome document, designed by Stanley Morrison, will not find Stone’s engraving in it - he was late and Walter Lewis finally refused to wait any longer and went to press with a previous and much inferior design!  However, the soon-ordered reprint contained Stone’s engraving. He married Janet Woods in 1938, and moved to Bucklebury, Berkshire.  At this time he illustrated Rousseau’s 'Confessions' for the Nonesuch Press and 'The Praise and Happinesse of the Countrie-Life' for the Gregynog Press.  In 1939 he taught himself to cut letters in stone and, when commissions for memorial and other tablets increased, he took on and trained assistants, one of whom, Michael Harvey, became a distinguished letterer in his own right. During the Second World War he worked as an aerial photographic interpreter for the RAF, and continued to engrave.  In 1953 they moved to The Old Rectory at Litton Cheney in Dorset, which was to be his home for the rest of his life.  The garden and surrounding landscape proved to be a fertile source of inspiration for his painting and engraving. Reynolds engraved the clock device, the court circular, and Royal Arms headings for The Times newspaper.  He engraved the Royal Arms for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and the official Coat of Arms for HMSO still seen on all official documents, including the British Passport.  He engraved hundreds of bookplates (including Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears and the Prince of Wales), often with characteristic and elegant Italianate swirls and flourishes.  He designed the 3d Victory Stamp (1946), the £5 (1962) and £10 notes (1964) which were in use until decimalisation.  He cut many important memorials in stone and slate, including those for Winston Churchill, Ralph Vaughan Williams and T S Eliot in Westminster Abbey.  He had several exhibitions, both through the Arts Council, notably in Aldeburgh in 1958, and at private galleries. Among the many books he illustrated were 'Apostate' (Forrest Reid), 'The Open Air' (Adrian Bell), and 'Omoo' (Herman Melville); uniquely, Sylvia Townsend Warner illustrated his engravings with poetry in 'Boxwood'.  His magnum opus is perhaps the set of engravings, 'The Old Rectory', which was published in 1976 by Warren Editions.  Among his last works were engraved illustrations for 'A Year of Birds', with poems by Iris Murdoch, published by the Compton Press.  He was awarded the CBE in 1953, and was made an RDI (Royal Designer for Industry) in 1956.  He died on June 23 1979. “Good art shows us reality, which we too rarely see because it is veiled by our selfish cares, anxiety, vanity, pretension.  Reynolds as artist, and as man, was a totally unpretentious being.  His work, seemingly simple, gives to us that shock of beauty which shows how close, how in a sense ordinary, are the marvels of the world” - Iris Murdoch from her memorial address 1979. JANET STONE Janet Clemence Woods, was born at Cromer, Norfolk on the1st of December 1912 and died on the 30th of January 1998 in Salisbury, Wiltshire. A descendant of Elizabeth Fry, the prison reformer, Janet Stone came of an ecclesiastical family (her father, Edward Woods, was Bishop of Croydon and then of Lichfield; one of her brothers, Frank, was Archbishop of Melbourne, another, Robin, Bishop of Worcester).  She shared the qualities which singled her father out for church leadership - a good-tempered, gregarious nature, personal magnetism, organising powers and a strong, melodious voice. So fine a soprano was she indeed that for three months, early in her marriage, she trained as an opera singer under the famous Italian teacher Miele, who gave her free lessons because he believed her to be better equipped to sing Verdi than anyone he had ever met.  But the training separated her too much from her husband and her household, which had become the centre of her life.  Her decision to give up her musical career was a loss to opera but not to British cultural life, for her creative energies went into making a perfect environment where some of the best British artists and writers came to work and to relax. With her social curiosity and zest for life she had immediately increased their circle after they married, drawing in the many clever and talented people with whom her husband came in contact, but was too shy to entertain.  This led to some notable collaborations - such as his illustrations to a selection of Benjamin Britten's songs, his dust-jackets for the books of Iris Murdoch and Cecil Day Lewis and his watercolours and engravings for Another Self and Ancestral Voices by James Lees-Milne.  The stream of guests in summer brought Reynolds a large number of close friendships, such as he had never enjoyed before. Janet Stone was in a long line (now extinct) of Victorian and Edwardian hostesses that included Julia Margaret Cameron, Blanche Warre-Cornish and Mrs Leslie Stephen, whose cultured gatherings represented a higher peak of English civilisation, despite their modesty, than did most of the grand aristocratic establishments of the period.  At Litton Cheney with the Stones, it was easy to believe oneself a hundred years back in time: there were fires in every bedroom, readings aloud round the drawing-room hearth in the evenings, lunch in a little arbour of Janet's design, picnics in high summer on the deserted Chesil beach, winding walks through a woodland garden full of rivulets and small bridges, and, amazingly, butter from their cow (and churn). The company, whether it were John Betjeman, Sidney Nolan, L.P. Hartley, Henry Moore or Frances Partridge, was always entertaining.  One might say that Janet's motto was, "If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing by hand"; and such perfectionism was pursued on a very modest income and with the assistance of only one devoted helper in the kitchen. Janet Stone was a romantic with a strong element of fantasy in her make-up, which did not clash with her practical abilities.  Her handsome and stylish appearance recalled the Edwardian age.  With her wide-brimmed hats and veils to protect her delicate skin, her corn-coloured hair and upright carriage, she made a memorable impression.  Her conversation was ardent, emphatic and humorous.  For all her enthusiasm for making new and illustrious acquaintances, she was unexclusive and was devoted to the many young people who came to stay and were bewitched by the demi-paradise that she had created. Surprisingly, despite her galvanising presence, she was not self-confident.  She depended absolutely on her husband and after his death, in 1979, she gave up the house and entertaining on the same scale.  Without Reynolds, life in Litton Cheney was unbearably lonely. Her life and home with him are commemorated in her photographs, some of which have been published in her own work, Thinking Faces (1988), others of which were commissioned for books and magazines; she took the author portrait for Kenneth Clark's 1969 book-of-the-television-series Civilisation.  A collection of her prints is now in the National Portrait Gallery archive. She worked almost entirely in black-and-white.  Most of her best portraits were done at Litton Cheney, with one of her three cameras, a Canon, a Yashica and an old Rolleiflex, the product of hours of patient observation.  Some have an extraordinary spiritual depth - such as those of Iris Murdoch, David Jones and John Piper - as beautiful in their way as those of the four Stone children taken in childhood and youth; and humour runs through many of her images - of John Bayley, Professor of English Literature, lying happily asleep on a railway line; and of John Sparrow, Warden of All Souls, reading absorbedly, with a teacosy on his head.
The Old Rectory Reynolds with Iris Murdoch Reynolds, Iris Murdoch & John Bayley
IN MEMORIAM
JANET and REYNOLDS STONE
SARAH ANN (NANCY) COOMBS 1926-2014
Veronica Kingston Edwin Kingston Shiela Barnes Nancy Coombs Colin Kennard Gordon Moxom Brenda Smith Charlie Trott Janet & Reynolds Stone Frank Whillock John Randall Dorset Litton Cheney in the Bride Valley