Sunday, 26 May 2013

Obituary for Anne, Duchess of Norfolk

Anne, Duchess of Norfolk
Canon Tim Madeley writes: On Friday 19th April we celebrated the funeral rites of Anne, Duchess of Norfolk, Duke Edward’s mother and the wife of the late Duke, Miles 17th Duke of Norfolk. She died on Monday 8th April at her beloved home, ‘Bacres’ in the Hambleden Valley where she had lived for 57 years.

Born Anne Mary Teresa Constable-Maxwell on 30 August 1927 in London, through her father, Wing-Commander Gerald Constable-Maxwell she was descended from the Barons Herries and was therefore a distant cousin of Bernard, 16 Duke of Norfolk whom her husband later succeeded to the Dukedom. She married Miles Fitzalan-Howard, a career army officer at the Brompton Oratory in 1949 and although buying Bacres as a permanent home, the two of them endured a typical peripatetic army life moving from place to place. That wasn’t all that kept changing: in 1971 Miles succeeded his mother as the 12th Baron Beaumont, then his father as the 4th Earl of Glossop in 1972 and then his cousin as 17th Duke of Norfolk in 1975, thus Anne had to change her name three times in around five years.

Her great love and work for the hospice movement started through a mis-delivered letter (intended for Duchess Lavinia) asking for help from the nuns who ran the Hackney Hospice of St Joseph in London. From this small start she began the Help the Hospices Charity. To this end, she also used her talents as an artist selling paintings and Christmas cards to raise funds.

Her Requiem Mass at Arundel Cathedral was celebrated by Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, assisted by Bishop Kieran, the Dean, Canon Tim Madeley and the Provost of the Cathedral Chapter, Canon Tony Whale together with her children (Tessa, Marcia, Carina, Edward and Gerald) and over 600 family, friends, colleagues and parishioners. She was laid to rest next to Miles in the vaults of the Fitzalan Chapel directly after the Requiem.

Cardinal Cormac summed up Duchess Anne’s faith in his homily when he said ‘The greatest act of faith we make is when we come to die, when without knowing exactly what happens, we put an act of faith in God who in Christ has opened up for us the heavenly gates.’

May she rest in peace.

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