Farewell to Petworth ‘incomer’ who played a giant role

TRIBUTES have been paid to Raymond Harris who arrived in Petworth as an ‘incomer’ and made a giant contribution to the town.

He died suddenly in Petworth on Friday, November 13, aged 87.

Mr Harris, a retired architect, contributed to many facets of Petworth life. A plaque hangs at the Leconfield Hall in recognition of his major role in the 15-year restoration programme to repair the structure and refurbish and update the interior of the listed building.

He was also involved with the parish church, the setting up of Petworth Cottage Museum and Petworth Festival of which he was a former chairman.

Chairman of Petworth Society Peter Jerrome said it was a turning point in Petworth’s history when Raymond became vice-chairman of the Leconfield Hall committee and offered to help tackle the work so desperately needed.

“It needed, not just an architect, but a top-class architect and he took the project over. It was a vast job. He made the whole thing work and he never upset anyone.

“He had worked as a professional architect and he had high standards. He could be firm, but I have never met anyone who had less self promotion.

“He never spoke ill of anyone, I never heard him be petty. I have never met anyone like him.”

Former chairman of the Cottage Museum, Peter said when Ann Bradley had the brainchild of setting up the museum, Raymond threw himself into the project with the same enthusiasm he had for the Leconfield Hall, carrying out the two jobs at the same time.

“His selfless work lives on in the town he had come to love and which in turn long accepted him as one of its own.”

He was a leading London architect before he and his wife Rosemary retired to Petworth in 1989.

He was also a gifted craftsman in wood, a talented watercolorist and a singer.

He leaves his wife, four children and 11 grand-children.

The funeral is at St Mary’s on December 3, at 2.30pm. The reception afterwards will be at the Leconfield Hall.

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