Letter from Ursula Vaughan Williams to Vera Mackenzie and Molly Hodge

Letter No.: 
Sept. 4, 1958

10, Hanover Terrace,
Regents Park,
London, N.W.1.

Dear Vera, & Molly, & all,

I wanted to write to you at once, but there has been a-so much to do, so much to think of, & so many letters to read that I’ve not been able to before.
Ralph died very early in the morning, and as simply and quietly as he had lived. Our great friend Gil Jenkins and the doctor, who is also a friend, were there, as he’d been restless and unable to sleep, & had difficulty breathing – but the doctor gave him an injection which relaxed all the tension, and he slipped away, with his head on my shoulder, and his hand in mine. I opened our window to the dawn, and after a time I played his pastoral symphony – and the music flowed quietly and serenely out into the still morning. He stayed there, untouched by anyone but me, lying quietly in his room, so that I could be in and out of it – which was wonderful - & right. And the house was full of roses brought by his friends, and there was a feeling of a birthday – a gentleness and lovingness that filled the whole place. The cremation was a putting away of beautiful clothes that cannot be used again, and there was a blazing and magnificent thunderstorm raging over the whole country – all as it should be.
I took his ashes to the Abbey, and they let me carry them myself through the cloisters, passed [sic] the graves of the Norman priors, through the Poet’s corner, to the tiny early chapel of St. Faith, where they stay till the service on the 19th. For that the music is some he loved best, and some of his own – and after it all the Abbey bells will ring across London and across history.
I wonder if there is any chance of your hearing the service broadcast – its 11.30 A.M. Greenwich time. I should love to feel you were all there.
We have had a particularly lovely summer, doing things we loved to do, and spending, not long ago, a week in the country driving over Dorset and Berkshire, all very golden now – a most happy and serene last time. I don’t think there have been many people who were so happy in their time together, or so lucky. That serenity is still with me – a magical and unexpected content.1
Molly’s letter was the first real news of Vancouver. It came the morning Ralph died, but I was so glad of it. That morning too, Adrian recorded No. 9.2
Will you thank Joy for her letter? I have had so very many and all must be answered in time. They are so personal and glowing I can’t at all send even the nicest printed form – so I’m buried under envelopes at the moment – though lots of our closest friends come in, & then I can stop writing for a little and talk!! Please will you also thank Kenneth & all for their telegram – for the time being?
This brings all my love

1. UVW wrote in a similar vein to VW's cousing Margaret Keynes a few days later; see VWL3196.
2. VW's ninth symphony.


Location of original letter:

General notes: 

The recipients were the daughters of UVW's uncle, Perceval Lock. They lived in Vancouver.

Cobbe 757
Original database number: