Robert Claude Gresley Douglas

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The truth is that when I visit a city, I often take the opportunity to visit its cemeteries, small spaces that are largely museums full of art, with sculptures and corners that give us peace. In Barcelona we have, for example, Poblenou, where people of the stature of the composer and writer Josep Anselm Clavé are buried, or the playwright Serafí Pitarra, a cemetery that takes us back to the wealthy families of nineteenth-century Barcelona and the dead in the colonial wars. In Paris, that of Pere Lechaise, where the essences of the city of the Seine are breathed and where among its corridors we can find names such as the musicians Georges Bizet and Gioacchino Rossini, the chemist Louis Gay-Lussac, the naturalist Georges Cuvier, writers such as Jean de la Fontaine and Oscar Wilde, singer Edith Piaf, actress Simone Signoret or banker James Rothschild. Chamonix Cemetery is a place attached to the mountain, a place that all of us who like the mountain have ever been to and where legendary mountaineers like Lionel Terray and Edward Whymper are buried. In Prague we have the impressive Jewish cemetery, with thousands of tombstones, ... And so I would make a long list, of all the ones I have visited over the years, including those of World War II with its lined white crosses, but what I had never done, at least from an artistic point of view, was walk around our house, the one in Banyoles, but as a result of a conversation where I was asked if I had noticed that in one of the gardens there was a tomb with a tombstone and if he knew to whom it belonged. And the truth is no. I hadn’t noticed it. So taking advantage of one of the days I went for a walk, I approached it and walked it almost from top to bottom, and the truth is that yes, at the same level as the chapel, in its band north, there is a solitary tomb where it can be read «Robert Claude Gresley Douglas. for ever my love my darling ». And this was when he began the arduous task of finding out who was hiding behind this name, of which he only knew his name and who had died on May 16, 1965, and who, not to be outdone, did not even appear in the parish books. of Santa Maria, which is logical — but I found out about it later — since he was an Anglican and only Catholics write in parish books.

In the end, though, and after talking to each other, and consulting files it seems like I got away with it and, more or less, I was able to figure out who it was.

In Robert C.G. Douglas, was an Englishman born in Stockport, a city located just over 10 km. southeast of Manchester, which was baptized on 16 September 1898 in St. John's Church. Peter's from that city. He belonged to a family with deep Anglican roots, his grandfather was the Rev. William Willoughby Douglas, who had three children who followed in his religious footsteps: Arthur Jeffreys Douglas and Gerald Wybergh Douglas, both missionaries, and Robert Gresley Douglas. , father of our biographer.

The Rev. Robert G. Douglas was born in Salwapare, Worcester, on March 24, 1862, and studied first at Marlborough and later at Keble College, Oxford. After finishing his studies, he practiced ecclesiastical teaching in St. Matthew's (1885-1887) and Northfield (1887-1889), but in 1890 he left for the African continent, first as vicar at Fishburg, in the Orange Free State, and then in South Africa, where he was rector at Beaconsfield (1894-1897) and at Griqualand West (1894-1897). It was at this stage in South Africa, when he married Ethel Annie Rome Blunt on 27 November 1895 in the church of All Saints in Beaconsfield. In 1897 back in England, he was appointed vicar of St.Peter's, in Stockport, where his son Robert Claude was born, and in 1901 vicar of North Nibley. In 1905 he returned to South Africa, to Cape Colony, where he remained for six years until in 1911 he returned permanently to Europe, where he held various positions: in 1913 he was priest of St. Barnabas, at Bexhill-on-Sea, from 1916 to 1927 rector of Winchelsea. from 1927 to 1936 he was in Saint Barnabas, in Dormans. He died in Eastbourne on 16 December 1947.

Possibly until the age of 13, Robert Claude Gresley Douglas lived in South Africa with his parents, until they returned to Europe in 1911, but once on British soil he was first sent to the Lancing College, an elitist boarding school, located near Brighton, south-east London and ending at the prestigious Royal Military College Sandhurst, located in Berkshire, about 50 km. to the south-west of London.

From here it was impossible for me to follow in his footsteps until 1964 when, together with his wife, Solange Francoise Marthe Douglas (single Vangrevilinge) he ...
they went to Banyoles to enjoy retirement. The reason they chose Banyoles, the truth is that I don't know either, but it seems that they had some friends or acquaintances in Figueres, which could give us an indication that they had already come.

In any case, in 1964 they appeared in Banyoles with the idea of ​​staying there, staying at the Hotel Mundial in the Plaça Major, while they began to build a house in what years later would be the Urbanization of the Fontpudosa. This was a house of 94.57 m², located on a plot of 353.40m², which today corresponds to number 1 of this street.

But unfortunately little, if anything, he was able to enjoy it as he died at four in the afternoon on May 16, 1965 due to a myocardial infarction, being buried in the cemetery floor, as says the record of the same, in «Casting. 2ª plot ».

As for his wife, Solange, [s]he was born in Rouen, France, on May 10, 1907, but despite being French by birth, he had British nationality, adopting as his religion the country, the anglicana.

Upon the death of her husband, she remained in Banyoles, and devoted herself to teaching English as we can read in the Horizontes magazine of those years. Thus in the number corresponding to the 15 of August of 1965 we can read: “English lady would give lessons of English. Great opportunity for seniors or children who want to learn the language effortlessly, through conversation. They will inform in Hotel Mundial or the own professor. Mrs. Solange Douglas, Paseo de la Puda. (In front of the La Puda Spa) ». It seems that he did not spend much time teaching there, as the last announcement was made on February 28, 1967.

In the second half of the seventies she went to live in the Salus Infirmorum Clinic, as a resident, where she is still remembered as a tall, very reserved lady, who was in room 227. They are already in the clinic, they performed an operation on his knee, and he agreed to have a ligament graft, which was performed by Dr. Francesc Salvatella, a type of operation that in those years was in the experimental phase.

At the beginning of the eighties the femur was broken and it seems that from that moment his health deteriorated, dying in the same clinic on February 6, 1982. She was buried in the cemetery of Banyoles, in Niche 468, owned by the British Consulate.

The fact is that at his death, and obviously with his written consent, the grafts that had been applied to his knee were removed, in order to be able to study its evolution.


Sources for this article include:

  •  Bulletin of the Casal de la Gent Gran in Banyoles, No.66, December 2014, pp.7-9

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