Parry and Terry

Richard Cavendish remembers the events of February 27th, 1848

Sir Hubert Parry, who wrote one of the great British tunes – his stirring music
to William Blake’s words for ‘Jerusalem’ has rung many a rafter as an unofficial anthem of the Left – was born in Bournemouth on February 27th, 1848, in circumstances far removed from dark Satanic mills. He came from a well-to-do, highly cultivated family of Gloucestershire squires and showed an early talent for music at Eton, where he took the Oxford bachelor of music degree before he had even left school. Parry later made a rich marriage, lived in style in London and Gloucestershire, served as Director of the Royal College of Music and enjoyed yachting for recreation. Knighted in 1898, he was buried in St Paul’s when he died at the age of seventy in 1918. He never had to earn a living from music.

Curiously enough, the much-loved actress Ellen Terry, who came up the hard way to be a shining ornament of the Victorian stage as partner to the great Sir Henry Irving, always believed that she had been born on the same day as Parry, in Coventry on February 27th, 1848. It was only after her death in 1928 that evidence was found to indicate that her actual birthdate was a year earlier, in 1847. Her parents, who were travelling actors, may have wanted to prolong her career in child roles.

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