Death of wildlife park pioneer at 92

Gerald Moore as a child actor with Thora Hird in 'Went The Day Well?' (1942)
Gerald Moore as a child actor with Thora Hird in 'Went The Day Well?' (1942)

A service of thanksgiving for the life of a surgeon whose life spanned ownership of a Sussex mansion, the stage, sculpture and painting was held in Devon in April.

Born in 1926, Dr Gerald Ernest Moore was a qualified oral surgeon who practiced in Harley Street for 20 years, retiring in 1987.

In 1963 he and his late wife, Irene, bought Heathfield Park and lived there with their three young sons, Julian, Adrian and Lucien. In 1965 they opened their gardens to the public and set up a riding school hosting members of the Saudi Royal Family including Prince Faisal who learnt to ride on a pony called Dolly.

In the early 1970s the couple restored the Gibraltar Tower and set up a wildlife park with wild animals and birds, classic and vintage cars including Rudyard Kipling’s last Rolls Royce, now displayed at Bateman’s, plus Lady Penelope’s Rolls Royce and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang from the film starring Dick Van Dyke and Sally-Ann Howes.

Having animals from apes to elephants roaming the Park was not without mishaps. Once a camel called Moses escaped and called on Cade Street residents much to their amusement, while causing at least one startled drinker from the nearby Star Inn to wonder if he had consumed one too many.

Before turning to medicine he enjoyed a promising career as a child actor, appearing in films with Petula Clark, Thora Hird and Irene Handl, including Ealing movies such as ‘Went the Day Well?’ (1942).

A published poet and author as well as a prolific painter and sculptor with many exhibitions in the UK and Europe, he displayed works at the Whitechapel Gallery, the Scottish Gallery and Bath Festival. Curators displayed it alongside works by David Hockney at Heal’s Gallery.

After Irene’s death, he sold Heathfield Park and retired to Devon in 1993, continuing to write, paint and sculpt. He set up the Gerald Moore Gallery at his former school, Eltham College where his works are displayed. His youngest son Lucien died in 2006 and his second wife Ruth in 2015. He leaves two sons Julian and Adrian.