Geraldine Pamela Violet Mackeson-Sandbach (Sandbach)
|Death:||(Date and location unknown)|
|Managed by:||Michael Lawrence Rhodes|
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About Geraldine Pamela Violet Mackeson-Sandbach
GERALDINE MACKESON-SANDBACH, who has died aged 92, inherited in 1928 a Jamaican plantation of 4,000 acres and two estates in North Wales, Bryngwyn in Powys and Hafodunos in Clwyd, each with a house of considerable architectural merit.
Hafodunos, built by Sir George Gilbert Scott between 1861 and 1866 for Geraldine Mackeson-Sandbach's grandfather, Henry Robertson Sandbach, is one of the finest examples of Welsh Victorian domestic architecture. The three-storey structure with clock tower, elaborate conservatory and screens of cathedral arcading in the hall well reflects the aspirations of a successful Liverpool merchant of the 1840s.
Henry Robertson Sandbach, who served as Mayor of Liverpool, was among those whose patronage of the arts and sciences raised the cultural profile of the city. His first wife, Margaret, was a granddaughter of William Roscoe, Whig MP for Liverpool. The Sandbach patronage of the sculptor John Gibson resulted in the notable collection of his works which once adorned Hafodunos.
Through his second marriage to Elizabeth Charlotte Williams, Sandbach came into the Bryngwyn estate with its handsome Palladian-style house designed by Robert Mylne in 1774, and the Old Hope plantation in Jamaica - which had been in the Williams family since the 17th century.
Geraldine Mackeson-Sandbach was born Geraldine Pamela Violet Sandbach on March 10 1909 in London, the only child of Major General A E Sandbach and his wife Ina, a daughter of the second Baron Penrhyn. Maj Gen Sandbach had been General Buller's Intelligence Officer during the Boer War and was over 50 when his daughter was born.
Bryngwyn was the Sandbaches' home from the time Geraldine was six, but she also travelled with her parents "following the drum". She was educated by governesses and the Parents National Education Union and was fluent in French by the age of five - which proved useful when, after the First World War, the family lived briefly in tax exile in Brittany.
After moving back to Bryngwyn, Geraldine rode, shot and went to the Guides in Oswestry, catching the train that halted two fields away from the house. As the train approached a certain corner, she used a pole to hoist the signal for it to stop. In winter, when the lake froze, the whole village would turn out to watch Geraldine's aunt, Alice Douglas-Pennant, figure skating.
Geraldine's father was the youngest of three sons. He nevertheless inherited all three properties when his eldest brother died childless in 1928, his middle brother having previously been killed while lion hunting in Africa in 1898. Maj Gen Sandbach died six months later, however, leaving everything to Geraldine, then 19, with double death duties to pay.
In 1932, Geraldine Sandbach married Captain Graham Lawrie Mackeson of the Irish Guards, and in accordance with the will of her father's elder brother took the name Mackeson-Sandbach. In the mid 1930s, the Mackeson-Sandbaches sold the house at Hafodunos, reluctantly deciding that its maintenance and that of the terraced gardens was beyond the depleted resources of the estate. Old Hope in Jamaica had meanwhile fallen into the hands of a dissolute and corrupt agent; rather than providing an income, it too became a drain and it was sold in 1938.
During the Second World War, with Bryngwyn requisitioned by the Army, Geraldine Mackeson-Sandbach ran the farm at Hafodunos and immersed herself in local affairs, including the Denbighshire women's land army. Her service to the British Red Cross Society spanned almost 70 years; during the war this included work in hospitals, training nurses and the running of blood transfusion units.
For both the Red Cross cadets and the Girl Guides, she provided a permanent campsite on her estate; she loved camping and often did so with the Girl Guides.
After the war, the Mackeson-Sandbaches divided their time between their two estates, farming, planting forestry and running a tree nursery. Bryngwyn was eventually restored in the 1980s by their second daughter Auriol, and after Lawrie Mackeson-Sandbach's death in 1984, Geraldine had a flat in the house.
Geraldine Mackeson-Sandbach served as a magistrate on the Llanrwst bench from 1942 until 1979; as president of the juvenile bench she was understanding and even-handed. She was president of the Denbighshire Royal College of Midwives from 1955 until 1975; a member of the governing body of the Church in Wales from 1957 until 1967 and president for Wales of the Royal British Legion Women's Section from 1983 until her death.
Standing just under 6 ft, Geraldine Mackeson-Sandbach was a formidable lady with a touch of granite in her character. Her sense of humour and conviviality enlivened the most austere gatherings. Though a committed smoker - at the age of 11 she would hide her cigarettes under the lavatory seat - and fond of dry Martinis, she always seemed in robust good health and was often the last to leave a party.
She is survived by a son and two daughters.
[ Telegraph 24 July 2001 ]