J M Bousfield (1920-2016)

Jeanne Margaret Bousfield  (nee Legge). Daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend. Show-jumper, riding instructor, stunt-rider, model, film actor, seller of venetian blinds, estate agent, dress-maker, fashion designer, executive cheuffer, house-maker, house-builder, Bed & Breakfast (and dinner) host, painter, show-garden architect (‘gardener’), sumptuous cake-maker, gourmet chef (our opinion). Loved, and lost on 22 May 2016. Celebrated at Eastbourne Crematorium on 27 June 2016 with a family gathering at Wingrove House, Alfriston. Thank you Jeanne for giving us life and filling our lives with your light.


In: to Love Theme from Romeo & Juliette (Andre Rieu).

Jeanne was an extraordinary person. I’ve not known anyone quite like her and I feel so privileged to have been in her family and to have known her. And honoured that Jeanne requested that I take her funeral. Grateful too that you have been kind enough to wait for my return.

We are a small gathering but this is not so much a reflection on Jeanne’s life, as on her longevity. None of us have known her for her full 96 years. But I’m certain that for as many years as we have known Jeanne (Jean) Margaret Legge or Mrs Bousfield, mum, grandmother, huggy bear, Jeanne, /dʒæn/, we have been enriched by her.

I do have some greetings from friends who couldn’t be here today. From Barbara in Cornwall who has such happy memories of Jeanne and Tony in Alfriston, and who really appreciated her friendship over the years. Barbara misses the regular phone calls with updates on the tennis and the equestrian world.

Maggie, a fellow painter and neighbour in Devoran, Cornwall sends a message. “For you dear Jeanne. When the chips were down you rallied – your cottage full of the aroma of Christmas puddings and cakes we were all wanting to buy and your lovely paintings. To a very talented, inspirational and spiritual lady who I was privileged to know. Love and peace always, Maggie.”

Indeed Maggie. Jeanne was a spiritual woman. Not religious as such, but she has spoken of faith to her grandchildren. There was an awareness of sin and a humility that I believe contributed to her generous acts of love. In moments of honestly, she expressed her fears and her hopes as well as her faith and doubts.

In fact, are we not all spiritual beings? When death comes are we not effected by sadness and loss? When love is experienced are we not similarly transformed? Do we never search for our purpose in life or muse over how we have lived as we approach life’s end? Isn’t how we live significant and will it not be remembered by and does it not effect those whom we leave behind?

And so it is with a mixture of joy and sadness that we arrive here today. Thanksgiving for a long life of passion and energy. And great sadness as that life comes to an end and leaves such a hole in our lives.

At the outset I quoted the words of Jesus that are read at Church of England funerals. Those who hold onto Jesus’ words of promise believe that there is hope in death as in life. And that there is new life in Christ despite death. We look to Christ’s resurrection for our own.

Peace Has Come
For our reflection. Here is a piece of music chosen by great-grandson James. We know how much Jeanne enjoyed Christmas, enjoyed hosting Christmas, and baking for Christmas, and family and friends at Christmas. Hanging on her dressing table mirror was a Christmas angel that grand-daughter Anne had given her. And this song that James performed recently speaks about the peace from God that comes through Jesus. “Peace has come”.

Behold the star of Bethlehem
The Word of God has become flesh
Unto us a child is born
The Saviour of this broken world

Oh, hear the Angel voices
Sing come let us adore Him
Peace has come
for our King is with us

Fully God and fully man
He comes for all with open hands
He rules with love on David’s throne
All praise belongs to Christ alone

Oh, hear the Angel voices
Sing come let us adore Him
Peace has come
for our King is with us

Holy, Holy, Holy
Jesus, we adore Thee
Peace has come
for our King is with us

O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord

Jeanne Margaret Legge was born as the second daughter to Alfred Reginald Legge (bank manager) and Alice Margaret Legge (gifted pianist) in Torquay 12 March 1920. Her older sister Claire had a career as a Wing Commander in the Womens RAF and married Jeffery Quill, a test pilot for the spitfire. Though they were not close siblings Jeanne remained in contact with her elder sister later in life.

She was not close to her parents either. Jeanne was neither a boy, nor was she academic (neither of which were technically her fault) but at 15 her father allowed her to pursue her passion for horses and she went to a riding school in Stanmore N London. The proximity to Elstree Film Studios opened many doors for an early career in Horse Whispering (I’m not sure if that is the technical term). Having passed her riding instructor certificate at 17, she obviously excelled at this and found herself in charge of the horses at Elstree, tried her hand at stunt riding, and in the course of her brief film career met such prominent actors as Laurance Olivier, John Gilgeud and Charles Lawton. I’m sure there were some actresses in there too but I doubt they were nearly as interesting to this glamorous teenager. Business minded Jeanne made the most of her “paid per fall” contract as a horse-riding stunt double – Jeanne recounted many a story of essential retakes and slight misunderstandings of direction, and ‘I’m asfully sorry Jeanne, would you mind trying that again?’ The bruises were worth it. Ker-ching. Have I yet said that embellishing good stories was another of her great talents? Have you heard the one in which Jeanne rode horses with Princess Elizabeth? Or that her mother was proposed to by Winston Churchill? If true (sorry – of course it’s true) many of the lives in this room would have taken quite a different course. However I digress.

Jeanne met Tony in Willingdon Eastbourne at age 19 and they were married in Folkestone, he in his military uniform, shortly before heading off to support the D-day landings under Field-Marshall Montgomery. As with so many others at that time raising two boys during and post-war was a struggle that defined this generation of resourceful women. There were also sadnesses during this time but Jeanne, Tony, and two sons Michael and David emerged maybe battered but alive and ready for a new adventure.

This took the form of 15 years in South Africa, as the lure of warmer climes and no rationing, and new hope in a promised land of milk and honey  was much desirable and made possible as Tony could work in the newspapers as a sports writer and advertiser.

I can hardly believe, as I have been told many times, that these were unhappy years for Jeanne when you consider how she spend her time here. It is said of Jeanne there is not a lazy bone in her body and this is reflected in the multitude of careers and activities that she engaged in… modelling, sales of venetian blinds, an estate agent, a fashion designer and dress maker, an executive cheuffer, a house-maker and house builder designing 2 of the family homes one of which was featured in the local Homes and Gardens magazine, mum and host, she was always ready and delighted to cook for Tony’s colleagues even at the shortest of notice. And there were the horses, of course, and the tennis that was a passion they both shared, not without some skill. Every job she did, she excelled at. But they were never rich people by the standards of others, and were perhaps never quite settled and Jeanne longed for home.

As Tony relocated to work for the Daily Mail in London their life at the first Cinders Cottage in Dorking from 1963 was a happy period. Some inheritance enabled Jeanne to purchase a paddock and buy her horse Pegasus, and develop a strong friendship with Marisha and her family in those days.

Cinders Cottage 2 was in Alfriston and Alfriston is where Jeanne started to get to know her grandchildren. We remember the golden retriever Amber from these days and in Petworth where Tony was suddenly and untimely struck down. From the outside theirs looked at times like a turbulent relationship – but Jeanne lived by a principle that kept them solid – “never let the sun go down on your anger.” She was always ready to reach out in forgiveness for the sake of reconciliation. And their marriage lasted its full term, that’s not to say she wasn’t cross with him leaving her.

And so a new chapter of Jeanne’s life emerged in Cornwall where house prices were cheaper, opening a high end B&B on the Roseland Peninsula, taking up painting in oils then in watercolour here and later in Devoran and mixing with artists and selling at local exhibitions. She never had much but she always grafted and made the best of her talents to survive the changing circumstances of her life.

Thankfully she was able to return eventually to Alfriston with Shane, and devote herself to creating a beautiful garden that was opened up to the public in the summer, baking cakes for visitors and for commercial sale, hobnobbing with Alan Titchmarsh over her garden fence, and volunteering locally where there were needs such as cleaning in the parish church. Until the garden became sadly too much, and a series of new adventures took her to Hawthorns, then out into a private flat in Eastbourne then back to Hawthorns. And to be honest Hawthorns wasn’t her favourite place, and these weren’t her best days, and the people there not her favourite people – and so, tremendous thanks must go to Samantha and Justin Bennett for being allies, and making these long days more bearable. God bless you both for being there for her and with her, and at the end by her side in prayer. Thank you. From me and my father and all of us. Thank you also Karen for keeping her hair looking so beautiful.

Jeanne passed peacefully watching TV and in the presence of a friend on Sunday 22 May. We believe she was ready to go. She longed not to be a burden. She said only the good die young. Self-effacing to the end. But of course it was us that were not quite ready to let her go because of the joy she brought to our lives.

Today we say farewell to an extraordinary woman. Remarkable in her range of talents, and the scope of her achievements who never lacked drive or perseverance, in her dark days held her poise and on her good days shone bright enough to light us up also. Thank you Jeanne, and farewell for now.

May I invite you to listen to these words of promise and comfort read by grand-daughter Sue.

John 14:1-6, 27
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me… Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

‘No religion’ has been the motto for today. I’ve tried. But there was an occasion some 10 years ago that profoundly spoke to Jeanne’s spirit and which gives me confidence today to say something more about the Christian hope. The occasion was the baptism of Agnes at St Nicholas Church Sevenoaks.  The preacher was speaking about the emptiness often of religion which can blind hearts and minds to the goodness of God. And on the positive side that if you have eyes to see you’ll see that there is a God who is to many ‘Unknown’ but yet who made the heavens and earth and is not far from each one of us. He is waiting that we might seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him. Maybe it was these words (from Acts 17) that spoke to Jeanne. I don’t know if she shared this experience with anyone apart from Anne. And I’m aware that she spoke again later of her doubts. But please let me all the same share Jesus words of promise and peace this afternoon.

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me’.

  1. The Promise of Heaven

He tells his friends to trust in him because he is going to heaven to prepare a place for them in his Father’s house.

Could it be true, that behind all that we can see and experience there is a God who has a future in mind for each of us beyond this life. And that Jesus purpose in coming to earth was to make possible our passing at the end of life, to this. And not after all to nothing, or even something worse. I wonder if you believe in life after death? And what it would be like.

Earlier that day Jesus had described heaven as a great party, he told his friends that they would eat and drink with him again at the great banquet in heaven. A picture of something special worth looking forward to.

Are these just words we use at a time like this to take away the bleakness of death or could they be true?

The Christian belief is that God sees our world full of pain and loss and says – well it won’t be like this forever. “I will make all things new”. I will “will wipe away all tears from their eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness. The world of the past has gone”

And when Jesus speaks about the future he says the key to this is not religion, or church or institutions, or wishful thinking, but a relationship.

  1. The way to Heaven

He says. “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

If you are seeking… he says ask, seek, knock and the door will be opened to you. He offers light by which we might see and know what is.

And says simply come to me. For I have come that you might know the WAY to heaven. Get to know me and you are on the right path to knowing the TRUTH about spiritual things. And on the path to discovering eternal LIFE.

I don’t know how far Jeanne got along this way. But I believe she didn’t stop seeking, asking and knocking. She was humble enough to acknowledge that there was a bigger picture.

And Jesus offered something unique when died on the cross and rose again. He offered to pay for our sins. To bring us peace. He conquered death to offer us life. And he extended this invitation not to the religious, but to anyone who would trust him. That through him we may come to know the Father. And that we then would be with him beyond this life. United with others. Forever.

There are many rooms in my father’s house. This offer is not just for a chosen few. It is a way back for all who would hear, and see, and reach out for a hope that extends beyond this life.

We bid farewells to Jeanne, and we have these words of Jesus. They offer hope and peace in the face of death – because they say that death is not final. They are also something of a invitation to us – if you really know me says Jesus you will know my Father as well.

Thine be the Glory

Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son;
endless is the victory, thou o’er death hast won;
angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
kept the folded grave clothes where thy body lay.
Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the victory, thou o’er death hast won.

Lo! Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb;
Lovingly he greets us, scatters fear and gloom;
let the Church with gladness, hymns of triumph sing;
for her Lord now liveth, death hath lost its sting.

Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the victory, thou o’er death hast won.

No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of life;
life is naught without thee; aid us in our strife;
make us more than conquerors, through thy deathless love:
bring us safe through Jordan to thy home above.

Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the victory, thou o’er death hast won.

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.

Prayer: Father God, thank you for Jeanne. Thank you for our wonderful memories of her. May they never dim or distort, and may they never fail to challenge and change us.

Commendation & Committal: Accompanied by Serenata, by Toselli (Andre Rieu)

Closing Blessing: May God give you his comfort, and joy, in this world and the next; may he give you true faith and sure hope of eternal life; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you  and remain with you  always. Amen.

Exit: to Glenn Miller ‘In the Mood’


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