‘He is remembered with fondness and gratitude by generations of Old Lewesians’

LEWES: 90th birthday party for Ivor Wycherley. 6-5-11''Ivor Wycherley (seated) with a copy of the Times from 90 years ago. John Davey (chapel trustee) and Martyn Relf (chair of Old Lewesians) and head teacher Anthony Smith.
LEWES: 90th birthday party for Ivor Wycherley. 6-5-11''Ivor Wycherley (seated) with a copy of the Times from 90 years ago. John Davey (chapel trustee) and Martyn Relf (chair of Old Lewesians) and head teacher Anthony Smith.
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Ivor Wycherley, one of the grand old men of Lewes and a stalwart of the town until the very end, has died aged 94.

As president of the Old Lewesians Organisation and an estate agent at the historic family firm, Mr Wycherley was a gentleman known by many - if not all - of Lewes residents. His death, on Boxing Day, triggered a plethora of warm tributes from family, friends and townsfolk.

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John Davey, vice-president of the Old Lewesians Organisation and close friend of Mr Wycherley, said: “Ivor attended the Lewes County School (later to become the Lewes County Grammar School for Boys) during the years 1932 to 1938 and he never forgot the debt of gratitude that he owed to the school and, in particular, to the Headmaster, Neville Bradshaw.

“On leave from his wartime military service, Ivor visited Mr Bradshaw at the Lewes Victoria Hospital and it was during that visit, in 1942, that Headmaster and former pupil discussed plans to build a Chapel in the school grounds to honour the memory of those Old Boys who were making the supreme sacrifice in the service of King and country.

“It took almost 20 years for those plans to come to fruition and, in 1960, Ivor’s dedication to the task was rewarded when he was able to join a packed congregation of well wishers and benefactors at a Service of Dedication in the beautiful new School Chapel, designed by Sir Edward Maufe.

“Ivor loved Lewes and served the town’s community well, but he was never happier than when he was working tirelessly for the Old Lewesians Association and the Board of Chapel Trustees.

“For many years, he was a busy Chairman and President and he retired only when forced to do so by failing health. Even in his 90s, he remained keenly interested in the affairs of both organisations and was always ready with a word of advice or wise counsel.

“Today, the Chapel is in daily use by the pupils and staff of the Priory School and it stands tall as one of very few school chapels to be officially registered as a War Memorial.

“Ivor Wycherley is remembered with fondness and gratitude by generations of Old Lewesians and he would wish no more than that succeeding generations of Lewes schoolchildren should continue to enjoy the building that was such a large part of his lifetime’s work - and to remember those of his own generation whose sacrifice brought it into being.”

Ivor was born on North Street, in what is now the Chalk Gallery, in May 1921. He started at the Lewes County Grammar School for Boys in 1932, just two years after it was founded, and upon leaving in 1938, went straight into the family business - A Wycherley Estate Agents, which first opened in Keere Street in 1853.

During World War II, Ivor joined the Lewes Home Guard - the only one in the country to have a mounted troop - with the aim of watching for enemy paratroopers. None ever turned up on the Downs and the detachment never fired a shot in anger. He later joined the Royal Corps of Signals.

Back in Lewes, Mr Wycherley surveyed and sold thousands of properties. Through work, he acquired a number of unique items including a chair from the Bishop of Lebombo and some silver spoons from a local lord, all of which he used for many years.

While Mr Wycherley finished school in 1938, it’s been said he never truly left after becoming part of the Old Lewesians Organisation.

In 2008, he was appointed the first president of the organisation with an announcement that stated: “For more years than he (or we) care to remember, Ivor has been the principal motivator and organiser of all Old Lewesian activities. Without his work and enthusiasm, it is unlikely that Old Lewesians would still be meeting together - in some cases - 70 years after they first met as schoolboys at the Lewes County Grammar School for Boys. The OLO could not have a more appropriate person to serve as president, an honour that is richly deserved.”

On his 90th birthday, Ivor unveiled a plaque at the town’s ‘forgotten’ war memorial - the chapel built in honour of the 55 former Lewes County Grammar School pupils who lost their lives during the Second World War. Ivor championed plans for the chapel alongside former headteacher, Neville Bradshaw, and watched with pride as it was opened in 1960.

Ivor leaves behind son Charles and daughter Anne. A date for his funeral has not yet been announced.

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