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17 February 2018

NORTH CRAY PEOPLE - Part 2 - Geoffrey Vesey Holt

Thanks to Sylvia Malt for the following history :

Geoffrey Vesey Holt

The North Cray mansion of Mount Mascal (now demolished) over its many centuries of existence was home to many historical families, but perhaps the one family which have left an extraordinary legacy were the family of Army Agent, Vesey George McKenzie Holt, who owned Mount Mascal from 1894 until the end of WW2. Army agents kept accounts for army regiments. He was also a partner in Holt's bank with premises in London. As well as Mount Mascal, the family also leased a fashionable London house in Knightsbridge.

The family of Vesey George and his wife, Mabel, consisted of six sons and one daughter, but only the youngest, Geoffrey, was born at Mount Mascal.

Geoffrey took an enthusiastic interest in the Boy Scout movement, established by Baden Powell. His father was President of Sidcup Association of Baden Powell Boy Scouts and Geoffrey formed the first Boy Scout Patrol of the district in North Cray and was Assistant Scout Master. Geoffrey was little more than 16 years-of-age at the outbreak of WW1 but decided just a year later to follow in the family's long tradition of military service and joined the 91st Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, enduring a rigorous training period at Woolwich Artillery Barracks. He was immediately commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and was later sent overseas to join his Regiment.

Unfortunately, on 2nd September 1917 Geoffrey was killed. The news was absolutely devastating to the young boys of North Cray Troop, who went into mourning for a month in memory of their late Assistant Scoutmaster. They decided to call their premises 'Geoffrey Hall' in his honour.

Their leader told the local newspaper:

He set by his example and keenness the highest ideals of scout craft, and by none is his death more sincerely mourned than by the boys of his troop, who will forever cherish his memory with admiration and esteem for what he did for them and what he was to them.

Geoffrey is buried in the Bard Cottage Cemetery, Belgium and his name has been included on St. Jame's Church War Memorial. His deeply grieving parents also ensured that his name was engraved on the family tomb in the St. James' churchyard.

Sylvia Malt
2018