Chichester-Clark, Robin (1 of 7). The History of Parliament Oral History Project
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Interviewee's home, London
Chichester-Clark, Robin, 1928-2016 (speaker, male)
Hyams, Andrew, 1990- (speaker, male)
Part 1: Talks about growing up in Northern Ireland (NI). Description of Georgian house and growing up with nannies. Talks about forebears being in politics. Idea had to do something in public service thrust onto them. Anecdote about getting train to Switzerland with family. Mentions father’s death when RCC 5 years old. Describes funeral and profound effect it had on RCC. [5:27] Mentions only has few memories of father being in politics. Mentions father gaining seat in NI parliament. RCC’s grandmother had seat before his father. Grandmother had first cabinet position in NI parliament. Mentions George Robert Dawson great great great grandfather, who also defended Londonderry seat and advised Robert Peel on catholic emancipation. Mentions the various Londonderry seats relatives held. [9:23] Mentions feels Dawson had similar political/religious experiences to RCC. Mentions getting booed for thinking marches should be about pageantry not just a show of strength. [10.50] Tells story about father taking him out and picking up acorns. Describes how in RCC’s family there was a sense you didn’t speak about death. Mentions not knowing what had happened to his father. Describes how people were always talking about dead people. Tells anecdote about cycling around dead body. [14.35] Mentions religion didn’t play enormous role in his house. Mentions going to church because told it was thing to do. States that RCC is not a religious person at all, and that made it easier to deal with Northern Irish problems. Mentions they employed Catholics. Refers to brother’s funeral, who had been Prime Minister of NI. Mentions he and his brother always thought if Republicans had won over majority or Northern Irish electorate would have accepted it. Description of expectation of being a member of the Orange Order. Mentions being criticised for attending roman catholic funerals. Describes how Orange Order helped sooth class distinctions and avoided worse treatment of Catholics. [21:34] Describes prep school in Kent that RCC attended. Mentions travelling and avoiding U-boats. Mentions mother suggesting RCC sent to Dartmouth Naval College at 13 years old. Mentions interests are art, history, literature and wasn’t much of that at naval college. Refers to end of WW2. Mentions learning Latin to go to university. Mentions going to Cambridge at 17. [25:16] Describes brother getting badly wounded in Italy in WW2. [27:12] Mentions felt too young at Magdalene, Cambridge. Remarks that feels did not attend as many lectures as should have done. Mentions going to America after university. Mentions working as a ‘tea boy’ for Time magazine. Remarks he felt America was entirely run by women. Describes hitch-hiking. [32:12] Describes enjoying his tutor who wanted to play bridge every evening with RCC. Describes how his History tutor Salter taught RCC a lot about life. Describes going fishing with Law tutor. Refers to helping Philip Ziegler with his biography of Edward Heath. [35:05] Refers to scholarship from American government. Refers to Goldwater/Nixon election. Mentions travelling on greyhound busses and the polio plague. [38:47] Mentions working for Portsmouth Evening News and Hampshire Telegraph. Story about eating bread and butter in flat in Southsea and developing an ulcer. Describes working at Glyndebourne and meeting RCC’s first wife there. Mentions working for Oxford University Press. [43:28] Asserts that ‘Bruno’ Brown (Sir John Brown) taught RCC how to grow up. Describes working for John Brown.
Life story interview with Sir Robin Chichester-Clark, Bt (1928-2016), former Member of Parliament, government minister and company director