Philip “Peter Warlock” Heseltine was born in London on the 30th October 1894 and educated at Eton and Oxford. He followed two separate careers. As Philip Heseltine, he wrote numerous learned articles on musical issues, and used the pseudonym ‘Peter Warlock’ when he wrote music which reflected the interest his writings expressed.
He was particularly drawn to the music of the Elizabethan era. Although his best known work, the Capriol Suite is for string orchestra, the genre in which he felt most at home was song.
An early friendship with Delius proved fruitful and he became part of a circle of composers and critics, which included Cecil Gray and Bernard Van Dieren.
Although he flirted now and again with folk song, he was critical of the style of composing following Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst, proffering the tightness and exuberance of Elizabethan dance music.
He had rather a capricious nature, which alternated with periods of despondency. As Heseltine he was quiet and gracious, but as Warlock (a name which came from his interest in the occult) he could be pugnacious and ill tempered.
It was during one of his periods of depression that he took his own life, in December 1930. He was buried in Nightingale Road Cemetery next to the grave of his father, Arnold Heseltine, but in the grave of his father’s second wife, Florence Marian Hull, whose family came from Godalming.
On Sunday the 11th September 2005 a service was held to re-dedicate the restored and repaired memorial stone, The service was taken by Revd. Ashe, and among those present were the Mayor, members of the Godalming Burial Committee, Godalming Trust Heritage Committee, ‘The Peter Warlock Society’ with their member, Malcolm Rudland, conducting the Guildhall Brass Ensemble in Eric Crees’s ten-part brass arrangement of Warlock’s Capriol Suite.