Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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YORKE, PHILIP SCOTT (1905-1976), Squire of Erddig, near Wrexham .

B. at Erddig , Denbighshire , 23 March 1905, the second son of Philip Yorke II and his second wife, Louisa Matilda (née Scott), the daughter of a Church of England chaplain in Malaga, Spain, he was the last descendant of Philip Yorke , 1743-1803?. He enjoyed a happy childhood with his brother Simon amidst the fine furniture and other treasures collected by the family since the 18th century. He went to Moorland House preparatory school, Heswall , and then to Shrewsbury School . He was not particularly academic but he rowed for the school and learned to play the trombone, tenor horn, onestringed fiddle and the musical saw. After a short period at a craming school in Haverfordwest he went to Corpus Christi college, Cambridge where he rowed for his college and graduated B.A. in 1927. He went to Ridley Hall with the intention of taking Holy Orders but he left before completing the course.

From childhood Philip , like other members of the family, had been fond of stage plays. In 1930 he joined the Northampton Repertory Theatre as a professional actor and joined the Folkestone Repertory Theatre in 1932. Later on he formed the London and County Players and bought an old bus to tour halls in south-east England. He also played in Cork and Waterford. In his will he named Gwen Nelson and James Hayter , friends of those days. Philip joined the Education Corps during World War II, serving for the most part in Northern Ireland as a sergeant instructor. He was released with high commendation.

Philip served as a lay reader in local churches though the diocese has no record of a licence to this effect. He also preached in local nonconformist chapels. He was often to be seen on his penny-farthing bicycle and he was a humorous lecturer with his ancient magic lantern. He used to spend his days at Erddig in the servants' hall, its enormous table full of tins of food for himself and his dog, pop bottles, papers and broken radio equipment. No meat or strong drink was ever to be seen, other than a bottle of Cyprus sherry for visitors. He bought his cars, his bicycles and his worn clothes second-hand. The Yorkes never threw anything away. When the cupboards in the house were cleared over 15,000 documents were presented to Clwyd Record Office.

Philip Yorke d. at Pen-y-lan church 2 July 1978, where he had hurried on his bicycle that hot Sunday morning. His ashes were buried in Marchwiel church cemetery. There is commemorative plaque by Jonah Jones in the church.

Sources:

  • Merlin Waterson, The Servants’ Hall a domestic history of Erddig , London, 1980.

Author:

John Gwilym Jones, Wrexham

Published date: 2008