WHO’D have thought there was a link between Lillie Langtry, Gargrave and Sir Mathew Wilson, the former MP whose statue stands outside Skipton library?

Lillie Langtry, the most famous actress of her time, a great beauty, social darling, friend of Oscar Wilde and mistress of the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, died in February, 1929.

Miss Langtry left £10,000, a villa in Monte Carlo and her motor car to her friend and companion, Mathilde Peat, who just happened to be married to Thomas Peat, Sir Mathew’s long time butler.

Following the death from pneumonia of the actress, and the announcement of Mathilde as a principle beneficiary in her will, and now super rich, the Craven Herald reported on the somewhat confused response of Mr Peat, who was not at the Wilson’s family seat at the time, Eshton Hall, Gargrave, but in Eaton Square, London, with his employer.

Quoting from the Daily Mail, and its interview with Mr Peat, it was a dilemma for the butler, said the Herald. He was the ‘most puzzled man in London’.

“He was a worried man. His forehead was lined with thought. For the sudden wealth that has come to his wife, Mrs Peat, has brought him face to face with the hardest problem that could puzzle any man. It is the choice between love and loyalty,” said the Mail.

It seemed the dilemma facing Mr Peat was whether to join his wife, who he had only seen ‘now and then’ for the last 16 years, or stay put with his master, who he had served ‘with devotion’ ever since he had become his batman more than 30 years earlier.

It was a ‘hard choice’ he told the correspondent of the Mail. Mrs Peat was at the time of the interview on her way to London after Miss Lantry had been put to rest in Jersey, to ‘talk things over with her husband’.

Mr Peat, described as a ‘square-set, soldierly man’ paced up and down the hall of the London house, wondering how he could possibly leave Sir Mathew, it being ‘such a wrench’ to his employer after so many years. Turning to his wife, he said he had seen her and they met up as often as they could. When Miss Langtry visited London, he saw his wife there and he had also been to Monte Carlo to see her there. “I understood her wish to be with Mrs Langtry. She understood my wish, and we arranged our lives in accordance with that, “ he told the paper.

Thomas Peat died in Derby in 1944, while Mathilde died more than 20 years later in 1965 in sunny Monaco.

IN the diary of two weeks ago, I referred to Queen lead guitarist Brian May as the band’s drummer. I’ve been waking up in a cold sweat on and off ever since.

Mercifully, just the one person pointed out my mistake, and very gently too. Of course I know Brian May plays the guitar and not the drums, goodness knows how that happened, can only put it down to a senior moment.

Many apologies to Mr May, and all his fans. It did however remind of when the Queen guitarist came to Craven at the start of one of his exhibitions in the ‘world’s smallest art gallery’ in Settle way back in 2013.

Craven Herald photographer Stephen Garnett and a reporter, who will remain nameless to spare his blushes, were dispatched to photograph and interview the world famous musician.

It was all going well until said reporter asked him what it was like being in Status Quo.

IN my walks in the countryside, I’m always seeing stuff thrown out of car windows, and oddest of the last week or so has been a pack of chocolate eclairs - a full pack and within the use by date, very strange. A few days before that, and I came across 20 or so ‘cat’s eyes’ - the safety, reflective studs placed in the middle of the road, and as I mentioned in last week’s diary column. They were scattered about in a hedge at the side of the A59 at East Marton.

North Yorkshire County Council has now responded to me they would have been removed during the resurfacing work of the A59 last year and ‘put to one side’ and then ‘overlooked’ when cleaning up on completion. I am told they will now be collected and disposed of properly. Whoever is sent however will have to have a good rummage about in the hedge where they were ‘put to one side’.

DURING the last year the number of local walkers visiting Yorkshire Water reservoirs - including Grimwith, Thruscross, Swinsty and Fewston, has soared, and as lockdow n restrictions lifting, together with warmer weather on the way, the water company is expecting the numbers to increase even more.

For the first time, three new countryside rangers will help to manage sites across North and West Yorkshire under the Yorkshire Water and National Trust partnership.

The new roles are designed to support the joint common cause partnership, which was established by both organisations two years ago. A total of five new staff members will join Yorkshire Water to assist with delivering partnership projects and Yorkshire Water’s Land Strategy.

The rangers will visit sites to support the company’s recreational team with tasks such as managing litter, parking assistance, visitor wellbeing and maintenance work.

As well as the rangers, the water company recently appointed two land surveyor roles, both filled by National Trust staff. The surveyors will focus on the delivery of the Beyond Nature scheme, which supports Yorkshire Water’s tenants in ‘delivering exceptional land for Yorkshire, forever’ through sustainable land management techniques.

Gaynor Craigie, head of land and property at Yorkshire Water, said: “It’s great to officially welcome our new colleagues to the team. Our partnership with the National Trust has gone from strength to strength, and as two of Yorkshire’s largest landowners, we have learnt an awful lot from one another.

“To have colleagues with the knowledge and experience of the National Trust will be a great asset to the Yorkshire Water team, as they assist in managing our agricultural tenancies and recreational sites.”

Ted Talbot, National Trust and Yorkshire Water partnership manager, said: “We are really excited to be working closely together on how we can better manage our land to benefit both people and nature. The pandemic has shown just how much communities need the countryside on their doorstep and the land around Yorkshire Water’s reservoirs has played a big part in many people’s family time outdoors.”

DIFFERENT times indeed - 50 years ago, on April 8, 1971, the Craven Herald reported on a ‘hot pants’ competition at Barnoldswick’s Ghyll Golf Club. Hot pants, it seemed, reported the paper at the time, had been rather slow to catch on in West Craven, unlike the rest of the country, where every girl and young woman was sporting the short shorts. 14 contestants paraded before the judges who said the no doubt male reporter ‘considered the duty one of the more pleasurable’. An outsider, from Cliviger, Burnley, was named the winner, a decision which would have ‘done nothing to boost the confidence of local beauties’.

ALSO 50 years ago, a coach load of teenagers left South Craven Comprehensive School, Cross Hills, bound for London, on the first stage of a skiing holiday in Switzerland. They crossed the Channel to Calais and travelled by rail to Montreaux. They were staying in Gilion, reached by cable car.