Fareham MP’s gift to the nation

Chequers                                                  'Picture: Stephen Simpson
Chequers 'Picture: Stephen Simpson

THIS WEEK IN 1988: Harbour fishing ban will be a ‘risk to life’

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It must be the most poignant reminder of the life of Lord Arthur Lee in our area. The tomb of his father, Melville Lauriston Lee, is in a peaceful spot in the graveyard at Bedhampton Church.

His father died when he was young and Lee said his childhood was unhappy. But fate established a new significance for this event.

The sign for the Lord Arthur Lee pub in West Street, Fareham

The sign for the Lord Arthur Lee pub in West Street, Fareham

In A Good Innings, The Private Papers of Viscount Lee of Fareham, Lee said that ‘by an almost miraculous coincidence it had emerged that my grandfather Sir Theophilus Lee had for many years lived in the district, at Bedhampton, and that my own father had been buried there’.

This made Lee ‘a local man’ and helped convince Fareham Conservative Constituency Association he was the right candidate and the electorate who voted for him as MP for Fareham in 1900.

Reader Simon Hart says: ‘I was amazed to find the tomb as it is nearly 150 years old. Its importance does not appear to have been referenced in any information about the church I could find. The book was in the store at Portsmouth Central Library and had not been taken out for 18 years.

‘On December 20, 1917, Royal Assent was given to the Chequers Estate Act which designated Chequers as the prime minister’s official residence. The Chequers estate was given by Lord Arthur Lee of Fareham to the nation for this purpose and continues to this day.’

The tomb of Sir Theophilus Lee at Bedhampton Church

The tomb of Sir Theophilus Lee at Bedhampton Church