Neil Davies Chapman (G43-45)
Contributed by Neil’s son-in-law :
Hello, for those of you who don’t know me I am Neil’s Son-in-Law. I want to give you a flavour of the man who I have had the privilege of knowing for the last 28 years.
Neil Davies Chapman, born to George Willis Chapman & Hilda Martha nee Davies at Langridge Farm on the 2nd September 1929• Working that our he was conceived around New Years eve 1928! Well so we thought but our maths was not as good as Neils and it was probably a month earlier! His family were his brother Roy, and sisters Jean.
Unfortunately Hilda died when Neil was just 12 and GW remarried to Doris after which Pam and Mary arrived.
He started boarding school, with his cousin, John Davies, during the war in Cumberland when St. Aubyns School in Woodford Green was evacuated and then gained a Maths Scholarship to Framlingham College in Suffolk at the age of 13 again going there with his cousin John. He was in Garrett House from 1943 – 1945. He was very intelligent and unassuming• The Telegraph Crossword was just a mere ½ hour for Neil.
He joined the Army at 18 and served for 18 months. He thought he would be sent abroad but instead was sent to Yeovil! The Army then paid for him to do a National Diploma in Agriculture at Writtle College, a 2 year course that he passed with the highest honours. His father had wanted him to do Medicine but Farming was his great love.
After college, Neil went abroad with Andrew Soper and spent several weeks cycling around France with just £25 in his pocket, all you were allowed to take with you in those days. They had plenty of Red wine stored in their panier baskets mind you.
It was around this time that he met up with Eleanor through Young Farmers• She was most impressed that anyone would go abroad in the early 50’s let alone on a bike!
They married in 1953 and moved into Holyfield Farm. Things were tight after the war but it was not long before Willis appeared in 1955, shortly followed by Ginny in 1958 and David in1959.
Neil was an active Rotarian and became a Freemason in 1961. He was initiated into Old Framlinghamians Lodge by the then Assistant Grand Master, Major General Sir Allan Adair who lived in Suffolk not far from Framlingham at Flixton Hall. He later joined Lodge Boadicea, a local Epping Lodge. He would always be willing to do anything in the lodge to help out. Neil was a Mason for over 50 years and loved every minute he spent with his friends in the craft. It kept him in touch with his old school and Framlingham. He even convinced me to join!
Neil’s love of Farming kept the family in good fortune throughout the years. He always supported his family in all their endeavours, taking Ginny to the local horse shows on Sundays when not busy so she didn’t have to hack miles. Helping Willis and David when their latest car was stuck in the mud, or broken down. Always with kind words and lots of encouragement. Neil’s carpentry skills were legendary. He had a lovely saying: “If all else fails use 6” nails”
Neil & Eleanor managed to get their children successfully married and he loved being a Grandfather to 6 and Great Grandfather to 2 lovely girls.
Things changed for Neil when he had a funny turn at a Lodge meeting in Loughton in 2000 and he had to have a heart operation to replace a faulty valve at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. It was a great success and many thanks go to the wonderful staff and professional care that he received from that day till his death a couple of weeks ago. Even to the end Neil was doing the crossword every day. He told me he thought that the doctors were going to find out what was wrong with him and sort him out. There was nothing wrong with that amazing brain of his. He always wanted to get out of bed to be near the upstairs window so he could look out over the Farm and see how David was getting on constructing his new shed. Always ready to give helpful advice!
Neil died peacefully with his family around him at Holyfield Farm.
I wish to finish by reciting to you a small Masonic address that is given at the end of the Universal installation ceremony in a Lodge. It expresses what we as Freemasons feel about the passing of life.
“To the man who has discharged his duties as a Freemason, may he patiently await the arrival of his dying throb, for we must all experience that awful change, when the soul takes wing through that boundless and unexplored expanse. And may the Great Architect of the Universe say, ‘It is well finished’ and admit us to the Grand Lodge above, when the divisions of time shall cease, and a glorious eternity burst open to our view.”
Ladies, Gentlemen & Brethren I thank you for listening. The Family will be going to Parndon Wood Crematorium for the cremation of Neil’s body after this service, but look forward to sharing your memories of Neil when we return to Holyfield farm later. You are all welcome to make your way there at the end of this service where refreshments are being served.