An hour or two’s ride on horse or bicycle, longer on foot, shorter by car, up on the hill just visible from Eye, was the grey imposing eminence of Croft Castle with its towers and battlements, little chapel and box pews, and approached down a drive along the side of a ravine with lakes and through a Gothic archway.
Do eccentric people really ever realise that they are eccentric?
My first sighting of Diana Croft and her husband Freddy occurred as I stood at the foot of the castle walls, looking up at two turrets, at one of whose windows was visible the immensely stately figure of Diana, and at the other Fred.
‘No, Freddy, that’s not right,’ she was exclaiming.
‘Diana, you are vrong,’ he was shouting back from another turret, in a strong German accent.
There was a slamming of small metal casements in the ancient towers.
Crofts have been at Croft, with one short break, since forty years before the conquest when a Bernard Croft lived here bearing the same name as, a thousand years later, is answered to by the present Lord Croft.
The Castle was important to me in those austere post war years when, with all petrol rationed to a gallon or two a week, or month, our three mile visits to the castle nestling in the hills under the prehistoric fortress of Croft Ambry were often made perforce on horseback, bicycle, or foot.
I loved it for its towers and machicolations, ancient Gothic entrance archway, avenues of chestnut and beech.
Diana, born a Croft but also a rebel, didn’t see eye to eye with her father. He had three hates; Jews, Germans and artists, so in the 1930s Diana, who was helping refugees escape from Hitler, and some said just to spite him, married Fred Uhlman, a Jewish German artist.
Jeremy Sandford FanClub Archives
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