On the east side of Browns Lane there used to stand a building named Howard Court (see right) which had been built in 1965 to provide warden-assisted sheltered accommodation for the elderly, run by Guildford Borough Council. On July 6th 1977 Her Royal Highness Princess Anne paid a visit to the home. We do not know the purpose of the visit. Some residents believed that the event marked the official opening of the facility, but this seems unlikely given that twelve years had passed since it had first become operational. More probably the purpose originated from Princess Anne’s normal portfolio of charitable activities. The building was later demolished and replaced by a new housing development named Barnes Wallis Close, opened in 2003.

The Visit

The visit, in the company of the Mayor of Guildford, took place on a beautiful hot afternoon. While Princess Anne was there she was shown two choir seats embroidered for St. Lawrence Church that had been designed by Mrs. Jessica E. Page for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, depicting the Queen’s Beasts with the years of her reign on their shields.

Mr. Edward Crouch, Clerk to Effingham Parish Council, had arranged for the local schoolchildren to be waiting for the Princess to drive past them when she left; unfortunately the Princess, who was pregnant at the time, found the heat too much; instead, she turned smartly away, was helped into her car and sped off in the opposite direction, to the children’s disappointment.


HRH Prince Anne leaving Howard Court at the end of her visit.

In the above photograph the Princess is accompanied by the Mayor of Guildford, Mrs Muriel Walls. Behind her is her Lady-in-Waiting and the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey. In the line-up at the left are, from the back to the front, Mrs Jessica E. Page and her husband Mr Antony D. Page (at that time Chairman of Effingham Parish Council), Mrs (Evelyn) Diana Tyrwhitt-Drake and her husband Col. (Barnard) Peter Tyrwhitt-Drake (at that time Effingham’s Borough Councillor), the Chairman of Guildford Borough Council’s Housing Committee and the latter’s wife.

On the right-hand-side, the man at the rear in the light brown suit was James (“Jim”) Wallace Beaton who was an officer in the Royalty Protection Squad, A Division; since November 1973 he had served as a Personal Protection Officer to the Princess. In March 1974 he had suffered multiple serious gunshot wounds during his successful actions in defending Princess Anne and Mark Phillips from a would-be kidnapper and gunman Ian Ball, who had used his car to block theirs in The Mall. Beaton was subsequently awarded the George Cross, Britain’s highest gallantry award for civilians. He remained with the Princess until February 1979.

Note: the Surrey History Centre holds a different photograph of this event in a collection of items deposited by Effingham Women’s Institute;
it is contained in a scrap album whose SHC catalogue reference is 7650/12/7.