Malhamdale Local History Group    

 

 

 

 

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Morrison's funeral
Walter Morrison's funeral 23rd December 1921

 

 

Memorial panelling
Memorial Panelling in the sanctuary of Kirkby Malham church

 

 

Gravestone
The simple gravestone in the churchyard of St Michael's, Kirkby Malham

 

 

 

 


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Walter Morrison
"A man of any parts"

Summary

Many of these larger gifts were given towards the end of his life, the book, Craven’s Part in the Great War being the last. He died on Sunday December 18th 1921 at Sidmouth in Devon at the age of 85. His funeral was at Kirkby Malham Church conducted by the Rev Baron and the address was given by Sir Walter Sadler, Vice-Chancellor of Leeds University. It was a huge affair with representatives from all areas of his life – his family, his parliamentary life, local dignitaries, members of his staff, estate workers, representatives from many of the organisations with which he was connected or had given money, Dales people, villagers and even the children from Kirkby Malham School were present to see the great man laid to rest.

After his death his gross estate was valued at around £2,000,000. The estate was left to his nephew Major James Archibald Morrison but he remembered his faithful retainers. William and Martha Skirrow were left £3000 each, John Winskill the agent, Robert Battersby the coachman, George Petty the gardener and Bella Lodge the housekeeper were all left £1000. The other servants shared in a fund of £5000. He made generous bequests to his other relatives and the residue went to his other nephew, Hugh Morrison MP.

So how can we sum up the life of the ‘Grand Old Man of Craven’. He was born to great wealth although he was never self-indulgent, and as we have seen, extremely generous with his riches. He was referred to as a big man, both physically large and large of character. He was unambitious, he held no public office and had no title, although both of these would have been possible. The only honour he accepted was Doctor of Civil Law from his old university. He had a deep love of Craven and especially Malhamdale with its limestone hills and wild places, which he loved to ‘show off’ to strangers who visited. Above all he was a man of high principles with a strong sense of duty and public service and a patriot through and through.

It might seem strange then that there is no grand statue to him such as the one we have in Skipton to commemorate Sir Mathew Wilson, his one time political opponent. But he never sought publicity so perhaps he would have been upset if there had been one. What public memorials do we have then? There was a street and a terrace at the village of the Carlton Ironworks, both long since demolished, there is a street in Rosario, Argentina and a town and a railway in the province of Cordoba, carrying his name, (though one wonders how many of the residents know who the Morrison was), there is the memorial panelling and plaque in Kirkby Malham Church erected in his memory in 1923 by his nephew Mr HC Moffat, there is Craven’s Part in the Great War, there is the portrait at Giggleswick School and perhaps his most lasting memorial, the Chapel at Giggleswick with the figure of him in the stained glass window, and finally his very plain gravestone in Kirkby Malham Churchyard. These then are the chief official memorials, but as we have seen there are many other aspects of life in Craven and beyond, that were touched by his influence and generosity.

Read the Walter Morrison obituary from the February 1922 edition of the National Review.

 

Footnote
For a short time after his death the sporting side of the estate was maintained by James Usher as head gamekeeper with William Lund as one of his assistants and when Mr Winskill retired James Usher took over the work of agent as well. In 1927 Major Morrison sold the Malham Tarn estate and house and Mr E W Fisher of Huddersfield took over the house and surroundings. However he died very shortly after coming to live there and the Hutton-Crofts became the new owners. She was a great niece of Walter Morrison but only used the estate during the shooting season. Mrs Hutton-Croft left the Malham Tarn Estate to the National Trust in 1946 and shortly afterwards it was leased to the Field Studies Council.

 


 

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