Jane Ffennell 1927-2017

St Swithun’s, Martyr Worthy was completely full for the Thanksgiving Service for Jane Ffennell on Tuesday 14th March 2017.   The hymns Be Thou My Vision, The King of Love my Shepherd is, Jane’s favourite For the Beauty of the Earth, and At the Name of Jesus beautifully complimented the readings ‘I thank thee God that I have lived’ , ‘God looked around his Garden’ and Psalm 121 and the Bible reading John 14: 1-7 read by Harry Cox, Jessica and Georgie Ffennell, Sarah Riley-Smith and Edward Cox.   Revd Alex Pease gave an address and Rory and Susie Cox led some prayers.

Simon Ffennell gave the following tribute:

I feel as though we have been on a very long journey with Mum, with many twists and turns and bumps in the road both in her life at Martyr Worthy Place and then Haylands and finally The Dower House, where Mary and her team nursed her so wonderfully through difficult times right through to the end as her health steadily declined.

So I hope you can remember the real Jane Ffennell, who had a wonderful gift for friendship, was such good company, always welcoming, and always  wishing the best for everyone – a true gentle woman.

By her own admission she found living on her own after my Father died, challenging, particularly during the winter months. So your friendships with her were the bedrock of her happiness, and it was comforting for Diana and I to know that her diary was full of your impending visits. We may not have been able to read what she had written in her diary, but we knew something was happening, and on quiet days there was Jean who supported Mum in so many different ways, and of course, not forgetting her succession of golden retrievers that were always beside her throughout her life at Haylands.

She loved giving small dinner parties, an opportunity for her to dress up in her brightly coloured kaftan, put flowers on the table, plates to warm in the belling and if you were lucky & if she had remembered, food in the oven.

She loved flowers, and she would have loved Linda and Jane’s Spring flowers in the church today. Her love of flowers may have put her in good stead when being married to my Father who, as you may recall, ran a cut flower market garden. So much of their married life at Martyr Worthy Place was spent in the market garden picking, grading, bunching, boxing, and taking off to market, and when my Father wasn’t in the garden and wasn’t fishing or shooting, he was engaged in his lifelong passion of entomology or more precisely lepidoptery. He was a moth collector. Being married to a lepidopterist is probably quite challenging because not only are you marrying the moth collector you are also marrying his moth trap. As a result, bug hunting holidays were spent with the moth trap in remote parts of Great Britain,  where the most interesting and uncollected moths lived. Fortunately these interesting and quite often rare moths lived on unusual plants. So while my Father was flitting around with his moth net, my Mother could enjoy herself in amongst the unusual botanical surroundings. She was never more excited than on those occasions when she came across spiked speedwell growing in the Norfolk breckland, bee orchids on the South Downs or wild yellow pansies on the seashore on the Ardnamurchen Peninsula in Scotland.

Her love of flowers extended to her own garden and perhaps it was for the first time in her life when she moved to Haylands that she could let her gardening imagination run riot.  She and David created a garden of both formal and informality with lots of different shapes and sizes, lots of bright colours, but also many shades of green which gave it that feeling of peace and tranquillity & structure, which she knew was such an important part of laying out a garden. It was always a “red letter” day in her diary when a visit to a National Trust or privately owned garden was planned with friends.

Then, of course, there was her love of painting. It is hard to imagine that the Hampshire countryside has ever been painted quite so comprehensively and expressively and for so many years. Her studio/ playroom was filled with canvasses that one day had been painted in one colour and then dramatically changed the next, many of them painted when she was wearing her unmistakable pink trousers , and pink “Paddington Bear” hat. I know a number of you have a Jane Ffennell watercolour hanging somewhere in your house to remind you of her. It was her love of painting that helped her through difficult times, with her joy and passion particularly affected by the light and colour that surrounded her.

Some of you will recall the annual painting trips , that for many years took place in Suffolk, and also in Italy and the South of France. These were joyful expeditions that my Mother looked forward to so much, full of laughter and companionship.  Her knowledge of History of Art was expansive, perhaps dating back to the time when she worked as secretary to Sir Norman Reid, who was chairman of the Tate Gallery.  She spent many days visiting galleries, attending lectures and reading up on great artists.

She lived in Martyr Worthy for fifty nine years playing her part in village life. Not many of you will know this, but she once ran the village shop up Bridgets lane at Garage cottages. Unfortunately it didn’t last very long because nobody seemed to pay. You couldn’t really imagine Jane Ffennell knocking on people’s doors demanding they settle up their bills.

Some of you will remember being fellow members of the “Friendship Club”, others will have joined her in serving on the Martyr Worthy PCC . She read the lesson, and did the flowers in this church for many years. In the wider community both Diana and I remember trailing round Winchester while she carried out her duties of distributing “meals on wheels.” She also spent time in the Brendoncare Nursing Home in Otterbourne where she was able to share her gift of friendship with some of the elderly who were in need of companionship.

She was a devoted grandmother to Harry, Jessica, Rory and Georgie, proud of their achievements on the sport fields and in the art schools. For their part they found it was puzzling that granny always had more presents at Christmas than they did, that granny was no longer the gentle grandmother when playing racing demon, that when granny poured half the cream pot onto her cereal at breakfast it wasn’t by mistake and that you could hear the revving of granny’s car on the main road before turning down Church lane on her way for a cup of tea! But most of all she was always there to listen and share a thought.

Those of you who were closest to Mum will know how much she struggled at times with depression, quite possibly for most of her adult life. This perhaps explains why she dressed, gardened, and painted in such bright colours. It was then that her light was shining at its brightest. So it is comforting to know that whilst her light didn’t shine all the time while she was with us she is now in peace in a place where her light can shine all the time.




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