Lord Hastings

Lord and Lady Hastings

  Edward Delaval Henry Astley

22nd Baron Hastings,12th Baronet Astley

(14 April 1912 – 25 April 2007)

The 22nd Lord Hastings was renowned for his lifelong love of Italy and ballet and his political and charitable work. Born at Melton Constable Hall in April 1912 Edward Delaval Henry Astley, who died at the aged of 95, was known for his solid performance in the House of Lords and as a junior member of the Macmillan and Douglas-Home governments.

His family own about 4,600-acres of farm and woodland around Norfolk, much of which is now tenanted out, while Melton Constable Hall was sold to the Duke of Westminster in 1948 and has changed hands several times since. After living in London for a period he returned to live in Norfolk with his family in 1967 when he bought Fulmodestone Hall, which he later sold in 1990 to move to the 17th century Seaton Delaval Hall in Northumberland, which he spent 51 years restoring.

Lord Hastings became patron of the Camphill Communities trust for people with learning difficulties after his second son Justin was born with Down’s Syndrome, and gave the trust Thornage Hall, near Fakenham, in Norfolk, along with 50 acres. He was the son of the 21st Baron Hastings and Marguerite Neville and the barony dates back to the 1290s. Lord Hastings was educated at Eton and after travelling across the continent as a young man worked for the Gold Coast Selection Trust in London and joined the supplementary reserve of the Coldstream Guards, before travelling 22,000 miles across the US in a Ford V8.

He arrived back inA Britain after the Second World War was declared and spent a year with the Coldstream Guards before transferring to the Intelligence Corps, which sent him to North Africa and Italy, where he ran theatre and radio services after the war. On returning home he had a spell on the board of the London and Eastern Trade Bank, which got into difficulties, then bought a 5,000-acre farm near Salisbury in Southern Rhodesia, where he also was local branch chairman of the United Party.

It was in Salisbury that Lord Hastings met the former model Katie Hinton, known as Nicki, whom he married in 1954, with whom he had three children and two stepchildren. He took his seat in the Lords following his father’s death in 1956 and four years later was appointed a Lord in Waiting and then a parliamentary secretary. He continued to attend the Lords until excluded by the Blair reforms in 1999 but also found time to be president of the British Epilepsy Association, the Epilepsy Research Foundation, and the Joint Epilepsy Council. For more than 40 years he was a governor and vice-chairman of the British Institute of Florence, as well as being president of the British-Italian Society – later being appointed as the Grand Officer of the Italian Order of Merit in 1968 for launching the Italian People’s Flood Appeal.

His passion for dance, which developed after seeing the Ballets Russes at Covent Garden during the 1930s, led him to attend rehearsals at the Ballet Rambert school and later became the governor of the Royal Ballet for more than 20 years. He is succeeded in the titles by his son Delaval Astley, aged 47