In part one, I mentioned Romilly Lunge’s overseas adventures. His life in film had seen him mix with many famous people. Hitchcock once interviewed him, and they both admitted to being nervous. This was for the movie Secret Agent, and he made a film with the Sir Gerald du Maurier studios. He remembered meeting and working with Bruce Cabot on a rarely seen film called Traitor Spy (The Torso Murders in USA). He was invited to the opening of what was considered at the time, London’s very first sophisticated night club and restaurant by Charles Laughton and his wife after starring in St Martins Lane with him, Vivien Leigh and Rex Harrison. He remembered Vivien Leigh during rehearsals and her being quite distracted by liaisons with Lawrence Olivier and their new and secret relationship, often to the detriment of the movie schedule. These were fantastic heady nostalgic times of romance adventure and danger all in real life.
He spent a year living in the German spa town of Wiesbaden Germany in the mid 1930s and remembered paying his monthly rent to the Hotel Nassauer Hof with thousands of Reichmarks that filled a brief-case, because of the currency devaluation at the time.
A changing Britain
After World War II he thought so many things had changed so much in war torn Britain, and that the Swiss Alps had now been discovered and invaded by the A listers as we’d call them today. The innocence had gone, he’d grown up, and I think he found his acting a bit embarrassing. Many fan letters from young admiring women did follow him though.
A move to Warwickshire
I remember him thinking about a movie back in the day called “Ow’d Bob” or something like that, had inspired him to be a farm and land owner – he never shied away from work or duty. After his quite eminent and prestigious father had died before the end of World War II, his mother moved back from Holland Park London to Ashby de la Zouch and took up residence there. So that brought Romilly to the vicinity and he chose the Hillcrest Farm, sister farm to Maypole Farm, as his home – just over the county in your very fine Warwickshire. It was 100 acres so quite large, and from 1947 to 1966 he ran the farm quite successfully. His mother died in, I think, 1948, so he hadn’t been there long. But he carried on and eventually sold up and moved to Ashby de la Zouch when I was around eight years old.
When we were growing up in the ‘60s, myself and my two brothers and parents spent time during school holidays down on the farm. Easter morning was spent in the hen coop looking for hidden Easter eggs. My father and his two brothers worked on the farm from around 1947 to around 1957 earning about 2/6p a week as farmhands.