The Friends of St. Peter's Berkhamsted

Friends of St Peter's, Great Berkhamsted

Lucy Anne Foot [nee Cooper] (1876 – 1946)


 

Lucy Anne Cooper was the second of five children born to Sir Richard Powell Cooper and Elizabeth Anne Asmall.  Sir Richard was the first baronet of Shenstone Court; an honour bestowed on him in 1905 by Edward VII in recognition of his contributions to agriculture.  There is little known about the early life of Lucy Anne.  The autobiography of MRD Foot, Lucy’s step-grandson, states that she went to Cape Town in search of a husband and there in May 1902 she married (then Major) Richard Mildmay Foot, whose first wife had died seven years before.  Richard Foot had two children from his first marriage; Richard Cunningham Foot and Linsey Kathleen Foot.

A few years after their marriage Lucy and Richard Foot moved to White Hill, Berkhamsted, which was owned by the Cooper Family and was located close to Berkhamsted Castle i.e. to the east of the road also called White Hill.

White Hill Place

Richard, who had been promoted to the rank of Brigadier General, died in 1933 shortly after his 67th birthday when Lucy was 57 years old.  Shortly after his death, Lucy installed a Seat of Remembrance by his grave. 

After her husband’s death, Lucy, who was always known as Dolly, continued to live at White Hill.  She was a keen dog-owner, having three Cairn terriers and a breeder of greyhounds.  She continued with the breeding of the Beorcham line of prize-winning Irish Setters which had been started by her husband, including the renowned 11-year-old sire Beorcham Blazes, veteran at Crufts 1935.  In addition, she was a well-respected farmer breeding cattle at Hamberlins Farm, Northchurch. According to Bucks Herald 23rd July 1937, ‘Mrs Foot escorted a tour of international sheep farmers arranged by Thomas Cook & Son Ltd …  to see her famous prize-winning Jerseys Red Poll milking herd’.  She specialised in producing milk low in tuberculosis bacilli.  It is recorded that during World War II (WWII) this milk was purchased by Madame De Gaulle while she lived close to Ashridge with her daughter.

It was during WWII that Lucy received a letter from the Hertfordshire War Agricultural Executive Committee (HWAEC) instructing her to plough and sow wheat on part of Northchurch Common.  She initially refused to do so, saying that it had been common land since before the Normans came.  The reply from the HWAEC threatened jail if she did not comply with their request.  Consequently, she did agree and according to MRD Foot, “produced 3 excellent crops of wheat”.

In September 1946, following a minor operation at a London Clinic, Lucy unexpectedly and suddenly died.  She was buried in the same grave as her husband, located between the Cooper Memorial and the central arch. 

Following Lucy’s death, White Hill was taken over by the Cooper family, who sold it to a builder.  According to MRD Foot, the builder made sure the house burnt, felled all the trees, built 17 houses and then died.

The Bucks Herald 27th September 1946 announced that ‘The Death of Mrs L A Foot of Berkhamsted, well-known cattle breeder and exhibitioner is a sad loss to the farming community of this district. She had proved herself a sound businesswoman, a keen breeder of pedigree cattle and an active worker for the NFU. Mrs Foot followed her father’s example with a life-long practical interest in agriculture. In 1917 she took over Church Farm, Great Gaddesden and in 1925 she established the model dairy farm at Hamberlins, one of the finest ‘clean milk’ farms in the country.

 


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