Old Rye – New Faces

Humphrey Lestocq

by James Humphrey

Humphrey Lestocq of Radio, Television, Stage and Film fame, is now a popular business man with two flourishing shops in Rye. Yet he only came to Rye four years ago to recuperate from an illness.

Whilst in London, Humphrey’s doctor suggested a rest somewhere in the country. Mary, his wife, an actress from St. Leonards, knew just the place, and within days they were installed in the Mermaid Hotel. During their stay Humphrey and Mary took many walks around the town, interesting themselves in the social and historical life of Rye. Revelling in the involvement and contagious atmosphere of our town until eventually business commitments in London coud not be avoided any longer. But both Humphrey and Mary knew that it was only au revoir for a time. A few months later whilst visiting some friends in Rye, Humphrey was strolling around the town when purely on impulse he called into an estate agents and enquired about the prospect of starting a business locally. Much to his surprise he was offered three well situated shops. Immediately he called Mary and together they inspected each one carefully, finally selecting the premises in Market Road.

With periodical returns to London to sell their interior design business and bringing their boat ‘The Star of Monenle’ to the Strand Quay they lived aboard until buying a house at Rye Harbour.

Humphrey & Mary Lestocq aboard the 'Star of Monenle at The Strand

Forty Films

Without doubt, his forty films have given Humphrey his known capabilities as an orator, and added spice to many of his speeches compelling an audience to listen until the end. This ability is essential for his duties as vice-chairman this session, chairman next, of the Chamber of Trade. Humphrey’s views are strong in the drive for more trade, within the bounds of the charm and antiquity of Rye.

There are so few towns as steeped in history, that he feels it would be a cardinal sin to conform to too many modern buildings that are not in keeping with the town, but at the same time recognises that some changes are inevitable, indeed he would like to make some of his own. Although the tourist trade is well catered for in the area, insufficient advertising outside the town is a lost opportunity. Not one poster is displayed on Ashford or any main line London station to herald the many attributes of Rye as a summer and weekend resort.

Humphrey Lestocq is one of the leading protesters to the Ashford-Hastings Rail Closure. For three days in the foulest of weather he took a census of people using Rye Station between 8.48 a.m. until 1.40 p.m., counting a total of one thousand and eighty eight passengers. The census was treated with utmost consideration at the subsequent enquiry at Ashford. (This did not include people who remained on the train).

Rye is My Home

After spending an evening with Humphrey Lestocq in his house and at the local “William the Conqueror’ at the Harbour, I found this man and his life absorbing and interesting. Also feeling that if after only four years in Rye and achieving the success that he has, Humphrey will be a prominent citizen here for many years to come. During our conversation, one significant statement really made the evening. I asked him if he ever regretted leaving London and he said “From the first time I arrived in Rye, Ryers have made me feel at home. Now I can happily say that Rye is my home.”

From the January 1968 issue of “Rye’s Own”

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