The Brettish Empire
Vol. II #2

January 1, 1996


Happy New Year Everyone!

...And welcome to the first "TBE" of 1996.

MR JEREMY BRETT--Part II by Lisa L. Oldham

In TBE Vol. II, No. 1, I lamented the fact that Jeremy Brett's U.S. fans weren't given much advance notice of his November 29 memorial service, and thus few of us were able to attend. However, Ms. Paula Brown, a Holmes/Brett fan from this side of the pond, was able to attend the service while visiting England with her husband. Paula has kindly provided the following account of her trip:

"The first few days of the trip were just shopping and running errands. We went to see the rebuilding of the Globe Theatre on the South Bank. As I grew up in a Shakespeare town (Ashland, Oregon) and cut my teeth on the stuff, I found it most interesting. The biggest of the Ashland theatres is fashioned after the Globe, only it's much bigger than the original.

On Saturday, we went back to Clapham Common where Jeremy had lived and died. I had been there once before, several years ago, and so it took me a time to find the house, but we finally did and I took some photos...It was so strange to be there again, especially now.

On Monday, we went to Berkswell and were shown around by a lovely couple whom I 'met' through the mail courtesy of a Brett admirer in Vancouver. The woman is a local historian...I got some lovely photos of Berkswell Grange, where Jeremy was born. It's privately owned and we didn't get inside. Saw the rest of the village as well, it's quite small. The church is of particular interest, as Colonel Huggins [Jeremy's father] is buried there and there are two memorials to Col. and Mrs. Huggins - one in the lych gate and one in the Lady Chapel of the church.

By-the-way, if anyone knows where Jeremy is buried, they're not telling. The lady in Berkswell was wondering if perhaps they sent him over here to be buried next to Joan [Wilson].

It was in Berkswell that my cold caught up with me. To be honest, I'd had a tickle in the back of my throat for 5-6 weeks, but had kept it at bay. By the time we got back to London that night, I was coughing and could hardly talk.

Consequently, I spent the next two days in bed in the hotel. I had bought the biography [Knight Errant] of Sir Robert Stephens, who was Jeremy's best friend, so I started reading that. There are several references to Jeremy in it and even a photograph. He was Robert's best man the second time he was married. The woman Robert married, Tarn Bassett, was one of the speakers at Jeremy's services. The three of them were great pals in the early days in Manchester and afterward as well.

The Services were very nice. I didn't take a camera, as I didn't feel it was appropriate. [There] are lists of those who were there, but they aren't entirely accurate. Dame Jean Conan Doyle, for one wasn't there - due to poor health, I expect. There was an interesting selection of speakers - people I had no idea Jeremy was close to. They spoke very fondly and sometimes humorously about him - he would have loved it! Edward Hardwicke's address was most moving. I don't think there was a Sherlockian in the place with a dry eye when Patrick Gowers' daughter played the Reichenbach violin solo. It gave me the chills.

There were purposely, I think, not many Sherlockians there. There were two ladies I had met in Edinburgh there from the Sherlock Holmes Society of London and one (whom I didn't actually see) from the Northern Musgraves. I understand that David Burke was there briefly, but we didn't actually see him. I missed [Mystery! producer] Rebecca Eaton, too. Would like to have seen her. You [have seen] from the program of the services that Jeremy's oldest brother John is a clergyman, which surprised me. He gave the final address. I spoke to him briefly at the door before leaving, but I could barely speak by that time and probably only confused the poor man. Also spoke briefly to Linda Pritchard [Jeremy's companion]. In all the noise (we were outside the church after the services - which was in London's downtown commuter traffic) it was hard to catch all that she said. She said something to the effect that Jeremy was still with us and felt that he was there that day in spirit, etc.

We saw [Jeremy's son] David Huggins briefly, as he left the church with his mother Anna Massey. He looks more like her than Jeremy. From where I was standing, he looked like he'd been in a fight - his right cheek looked red and scraped. Perhaps someone had just kissed him, who knows? Saw Diana Rigg, Clive Merrison, Ronald Pickup ['Barrymore' in The Hound of the Baskervilles], [Holmes producer] June Wyndham Davies (she was all over the place!) and [Holmes series creator/producer] Michael Cox. My husband said he saw Gayle Hunnicut (Irene Adler) but I didn't. Someone also said they saw Patricia Hodge ['Lady Hilda Trelawny Hope' in The Second Stain]. I really wish I could have seen everyone and known who they were and what their relationship to Jeremy was. Anyway, I'm just happy to have been able to be there at all.

As I was not packed yet and getting sicker by the moment, we didn't try to go to Cambridge that night. Instead, we stopped by a friend's Sherlockian shop called 'Sherlock in the Arches' and had a glass of wine. It was a 'reception' of sorts for those who weren't invited to the 'private/family reception' which followed the services. No one in the Sherlockian world was invited that I'm aware of.

The following morning, I was a bit better, so we caught an early train to see our friends in Cambridge and spent a nice day and night with them. He is writing a book on Jeremy and the Granada series and had known Jeremy considerably better than I did. He has lots of photos, etc., about him. He's also a book dealer and specializes in Sherlock Holmes and Doyle, so I was like a kid in a candy store. They also have four cats, as we do, and one was a new kitten which we all had a great time playing with. All in all, a very nice visit.

The Northern Musgraves are sponsoring a Brett Memorial Luncheon at the Cafe Royale on March 16. We'll be there, barring major disasters. David Stuart Davies always puts on a good program and there will be several important people from the Granada series there. Should be great!"

Thank you, Paula, for sharing your memories with us.

"THE BEST AND WISEST MAN..."

Sonia Fetherston forwarded the following posting from the Hounds of the Internet to me. I'm sure it will touch your hearts. Lee Shackleford wrote:

"I've been lurking for a while, but have very much enjoyed everyone else's contributions...What brings me out of hiding is a letter I just received from Miss Meg Moller Martin (she of 'Brett's Pets' fame). She encloses part of a sweet letter written to her by Linda Pritchard, whom many of you know was Jeremy Brett's companion of the last several years. Meg asked me to pass this on, and I thought it was a good thought for this time of year ('the season of forgiveness' Holmes says in BLUE)...

'I know many love Jeremy very much and the love you have for him knows no bounds. But Jeremy loved everyone, whatever color or creed they were or are. He also loved animals so much and the trees and the flowers. I therefore feel we should use the same love we have for Jeremy to love others in the same way. That way we continue to give the gift that Jeremy gave to us all, and that is to make the world a place that is full of love and kindness.

'For anyone who travels to London, some of my friends and I have had a plaque in memory of Jeremy put up in Wyndham's Theater, Leicester Square, London. [Note: This is the theater where Jeremy and Edward Hardwicke appeared in The Secret of Sherlock Holmes--llo] Edward Hardwicke unveiled the plaque which is situated in the bar by the Royal Circle. It bears the inscription, 'I have lost a friend whom I regarded as the best and wisest man I have ever known.'"

Thank you for passing this along, Sonia.

NO PLACE LIKE HOMEPAGE

TBE'er Carrie Pratt has created a smashing homepage dedicated to Jeremy. I've visited Carrie's "Jeremy Brett Homepage" and I give it two enthusiastic thumbs up. In addition to other features, it contains rare photos of Jeremy from every area of his career--stage, screen, and television. The URL is:

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Good show, Carrie!

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

"Looking back, I imagine I was always writing. Twaddle it was, too. But far better write twaddle or anything, anything, than nothing at all."

--Katherine Mansfield

(Fun fact: Jeremy Brett played "Middleton Murry" in the 1973 British television production of "A Portrait of Katherine Mansfield.")

That's all for this issue. Thank you all for reading (I've really appreciated all the complimentary messages I've received concerning "TBE").

Until next time,

Lisa :-)


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"The Brettish Empire"/"TBE" Copyright Lisa L. Oldham.