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Carbon copy of a letter from Lady Pethick-Lawrence to Viscount Alexander of Hillsborough

Gives an account of her husband’s last illness, and discusses the arrangements for the memorial service.



9th. October, 1961.

I am truly ashamed that I have not written before—yours was almost the first letter I had. I fear I was in something of a daze after the Cremation on the 15th and realised too late that you had started for Devonshire on the 18th.

We went away the week-end after Pethick last spoke in the House of Lords and that is when his illness commenced. I brought him back early to bed from which he never rose again. He knew almost at once that it was the beginning of the end and asked that I should tell no one—and being holiday period this was possible. After a while he followed you into the Manor House Hospital where Mr. Nicholson did all he could in skill and kindness, but it was soon apparent that the end was just a matter of time.

Now I am beginning to arrange a Memorial Service and I think it should obviously be at St. Margarets—so many of his friends are political. Lord Lucan is kindly helping me with it and will consult with the Whips Office on the Tory side.

Myself, I would like you and Kilmuir to speak. You are, I would think Pethick’s oldest friend and Leader of the Labour Peers too. We both like Kilmuir and he has been very good to me and I know thought a lot of Pethick.

Frank Pakenham suggested on the ’phone that an Opposition Peer would be all wrong.

To me, I would like the Service to be just a gathering of Pethick’s friends, regardless of political colour or special religious alliance.

It seems only one person usually speaks. Of course I am an outsider and unconventional. Then again, perhaps I should ask Lord Attlee an ex-P.M. but recently his enunciation is not so good.

So you see, frankly speaking, I think it is probably best to give up personal ideas and be guided by Lord Lucan. I hope to see him next week—then again there are not many free/suitable dates at St. Margarets—which makes it no easier.

This letter is meant to thank you and your wife most sincerely for your sympathy—but I fear it is all about my own problems.

I do trust you are now quite recovered and ready for the fray next Session.

The Rt. Hon. Viscount Alexander,
Well House Farm,
West Mersea,

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