Wilfred Fox
image: family photograph

 

Wilfrid Fox gave his land at Winkworth, south of Godalming, to the National Trust and it is now known as Winkworth Arboretum.

Wilfrid was born in 1875 and became L.R.C.P. in 1902 and F.R.C.P. in 1923. He was a specialist in dermatology, and became skin physician in 1906 at St George's Hospital, which he served for 20 years, and was assistant physician to the skin department of the Seamen's Hospital, Greenwich.

In WW1, while in France as Military Officer, Fox fitted his own car out as an ambulance. In WW2 he commanded a British Red Cross ambulance unit to France, escaping just before the Dunkirk evacuation. "Old Carthusians" of Charterhouse funded one of the ambulances.

In 1918 Fox took over Winkworth Farm while living in London, and in 1928 made it his permanent home after his retirement from the medical field. He continued to work but in his family business, a firm of merchants. In 1937 Fox acquired two neighbouring parcels of land when they came up for sale, including two lakes, Rowe's Fashe and Phillimore. Fox set to clearing and planting the 60 acres, off the Hascombe road, with varieties of trees with special emphasis on azaleas, maples, magnolias, ash and whitebeam, and he created a rhododendron wood. In 1952 Fox gave 62 acres, including the upper lake, to the National Trust, and five years later they bought a further 35 acres with the lower lake. At the ceremony of handing over the deeds it was only a newspaper that was wrapped up for fear of damaging the original deeds!! Winkworth Arboretum was opened to the public.

Wilfrid Fox helped to found the Roads Beautifying Association in 1928, a pioneer movement to help improve public environment by planting of trees. Two examples of the association's work were the planting of roadside trees for the Guildford and Godalming by-pass, and Leatherhead by-pass. He was to be awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour by the Royal Horticultural Society in 1948 for his work in this field. He died in 1962.

 

 

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