Patron of the arts Lady Stewart dies, age 102

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A DEVOTED patron of the arts and generous benefactor of Salisbury Cathedral has died at the age of 102.

Lady Stephanie Stewart, who lived in the Cathedral Close, was unfailingly hospitable, allowing her homes in the Close to provide lodgings for countless visiting preachers, musicians and ordinands.

Widow of Sir Findlater Stewart, the last permanent undersecretary at the India Office, Lady Stewart was a patron of many local arts organisations, particularly Salisbury’s orchestras and Musical Society, the Playhouse and the Salisbury Festival On moving from Dorset to the Cathedral Close 30 years ago, she became one of the cathedral’s most generous benefactors, in particular supporting the choral foundation, and commissioning new works for the choir.

Canon Jeremy Davies said: “Many present and former cathedral choristers have reason to be grateful to Stephanie, whose generosity enabled them to enjoy an unparalleled musical education.

“She was from the start an enthusiastic supporter of the cathedral’s girls’ choir when that was founded in 1991.

“Until increasing frailty made the short walk from her home to the cathedral difficult, she daily attended cathedral evensong, and her funeral will take place there.

“She was cared for until her death by a devoted band of carers whose attentiveness allowed her to die as she had lived - at home.

Lady Stewart remained a voracious reader into her later years, and was an avid traveller until well into her 90s as well as a regular visitor to the RSC in Stratford, and at Glyndebourne, the National Theatre and the opera in London.

Her funeral will be held at the cathedral on Tuesday, March 4 at 10.45am.

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