I first met Roy several years ago when I discovered Guys Cliffe House near Warwick and fell in love with the old mansion house. Sure, I'd read the history of the house and estate and heard stories about its long and varied past but little did I know I would meet someone who had actually lived within this once grand house. I was introduced to Roy who was described as 'one of the boys who lived here at Guys Cliffe during the war'. This was the beginning of a cherished friendship with such a marvellous chap. Roy was as excited then speaking to me about the house as I can imagine he was the very first time he saw it back in 1943! He spoke so fondly of his time at Guys Cliffe when it was a Boys Home and of Paul Field, the Master of the home.
Roy was born in Grantham, Lincolnshire, his mother, May Robinson (nee Dennis) had been deserted by her husband, Richard Henry Robinson, she was subsequently unable to look after young Roy and he was taken into care, many Boys Homes later and Roy was eventually taken at the age of 13 in 1943 to Guys Cliffe, Warwickshire.
Roy had long before my own involvement with Guys Cliffe revisited the old house and become very much involved with 'Friends of Guys Cliffe' who were formed to preserve the property and aid its useage right up to the present day. Roy rarely ever missed a working party day and was far from afraid to literally get his hands very dirty!
A major part of my own contribution towards the efforts at Guys Cliffe involved the online aspects, the website for Guys Cliffe House, collecting and compiling photographs and images, creating video content and generally helping raise awareness of the property and promotion of the Garden Party and Open Days. This was very enthusiastically assisted by good ol' Roy who would tell tales of childhood days at the house and what it was like to live within its walls. This was absolutely invaluable to those of us trying to research the property and visualise how the ruined sections were in their prime. Myself, Roy and other members of Friends of Guys Cliffe often entered the very much out of bounds, ruined areas in order to piece together scraps of information and armed with archive photographs and Roys' recollection of the layout and features we learnt much about its days gone by. Roy was a big fan of photography and took many photos of Guys Cliffe's features, these will be featured within this archive for all to enjoy in due course. Roy often snapped our efforts on working party days and some of the major preservation projects that we organised and undertook at Guys Cliffe. He was also often armed with a video camera and over time compiled footage of these projects and his own considerable contributions towards the property.
I have some very fond memories of Roy explaining about the days during the war at Guys Cliffe and the routines within the Boys Home. He also spoke of the last night he was at the house, the last boy there, he was due to leave to a foster home the following day. He was sleeping alone in the dark dormitory which was once the grand Music Room of the house. The draughty chimneys, rattling windows and only candles and oil lamps for light, this was not a nights stay for the faint hearted!
In 2007 myself, Roy and Adrian King travelled up to Scampton in Lincolnshire to meet with Anne Field, daughter of Paul Field, Master of the Boys Home during the war and a childhood friend of Roy. For hours we talked about those troubled days and learnt much more of the history and inner workings of the boys home than was previously known, such a valuable insight.
The very popular Guys Cliffe Garden Party during the summer time and the Heritage Open Days in the early autumn will not be the same without Roy in attendance, speaking proudly and passionately about Guys Cliffe and his own days within the house, an absolute gem that will be sorely missed.
Besides Roys interests in Guys Cliffe, he was also a talented musician, often to be found playing in a band during the open days, entertaining the crowds and having a great time!
Roy was a pleasure to speak to, a true gentleman. We shall all cherish his tales of Guys Cliffe and we will dearly miss his visits to the house.
Roy... It was an honour to have met and known you and you will be greatly missed by so many. We all cherish the memories we shared. The world, and Guys Cliffe especially, is a great man short... Rest in peace dear friend...
This Guys Cliffe House Historical Image Archive is dedicated to the memory of Roy Robinson