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  • Writer's pictureGordon Elliot

Hugh Ellis-Rees


We were sorry to learn of the death on 9 April of one of Burford’s most notable residents, Hugh Ellis-Rees.  Hugh had a distinguished career in the Civil Service and later played a big part in local life including the Burford Festival, the Burford & District Society and the Catholic Church.

He was a fund of fascinating stories. We particularly remember his account of how, as a schoolboy during the Second World War, he travelled to visit his father, a diplomat, who was attached to the British embassy in Madrid.  The journey involved a long overnight flight which followed a wide arc out into the Atlantic to stay out of the range of German fighters based in occupied France.  In Madrid there were still trenches used in fighting during the Spanish Civil War and, as Spain was a neutral country, German officers in Nazi uniforms could be seen in the streets.

We once asked Hugh if we could interview him for this magazine but he said that, if he agreed to it, he would be imprisoned for breaching the Official Secrets Act.  He did, however, give a fascinating talk to the Burford & District Society.

We took this photograph of Hugh outside his home on his 90th birthday.  He joked that it would be difficult to find a moment when there wasn’t a tourist taking a selfie on the steps.

We send out condolences to Elisabeth, Thomas and other members of Hugh’s family.  We hope to have an appreciation of his life in a future edition.



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