Obituary: Barrister and High Court judge Sir Edward Evans-Lombe

Sir Edward Evans-Lombe at Marlingford Hall

Sir Edward Evans-Lombe at Marlingford Hall - Credit: Archant

From discovering Roman artifacts to preserving Norfolk’s countryside, and donning a red robe with a full-bottomed wig, it is clear to see how Sir Edward Evans-Lombe became “a man of many parts".

Widely known as a barrister and High Court judge, Sir Edward embraced a plethora of interests outside of his calling to the bar. 

Born Edward Christopher Evans-Lombe on April 10, 1937, he was the son of the late vice-admiral Sir Edward Malcolm Evans-Lombe KCB – a Royal Navy officer who became deputy chief of the naval staff and a former high sheriff of Norfolk.

Sir Edward Evans-Lombe at Marlingford Hall

Sir Edward Evans-Lombe at Marlingford Hall - Credit: Archant

Although born in London, Sir Edward spent his youth travelling across the globe and living at various locations in the United Kingdom, Malta, Canada and Norway. 

One of his earliest memories was rekindled on an inaugural visit to Cornwall when he confessed to only having seen it from the sea. In fact, he viewed it from the bridge of the Royal Navy’s last battleship, HMS Vanguard, on which his father was flying the flag. It was his father’s exploits of the war that gave him a lifelong interest in naval history, of which he had considerable knowledge. 

Sir Edward attended school at Aberleigh Hall and Eton College, Berkshire, before undergoing his education at Trinity College, Cambridge.

He served in the Army Regiment and was called to the bar by The Inner Temple in 1963, taking silk in 1978. He was then appointed as a High Court judge in 1993 and became a member of the Competition Appeal Tribunal in 2004. 

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He married Frances Marilyn MacKenzie on April 2 in 1964 and the couple went on to have four children together; Sophy (1965), Nicholas (1966), Sarah (1969) and Harriet in (1971).

Originally, they lived at Marlingford Hall before moving to nearby Park House, in Great Melton, between Wymondham and Norwich.

Sir Edward Evans-Lombe at Marlingford Hall

Sir Edward Evans-Lombe at Marlingford Hall - Credit: Archant

Friend William Sowerby, who spoke at his funeral, explained how no account of Sir Edward would be complete without a tribute to his wife. 

He said: “In all he did, Marilyn has been there supporting him. 

“His legal career involved much time in London and in his absence, she coped with the day-to-day running of Marlingford. Then she accompanied him to London and finally looked after him through his last illness at Park House. 

“To borrow a famous quotation, she was indeed his strength and stay. 

“His family has been a huge part of his life and I know what pride and pleasure they and his grandchildren have given him.”

Sir Edward Evans-Lombe at Marlingford Hall

Sir Edward Evans-Lombe at Marlingford Hall - Credit: Archant

From his father, he also inherited a lifelong love of fishing and would holiday on the Stordahl in Norway with his family and friends. On one occasion there, a nine-year-old Nicholas hooked his first salmon. Encumbered with waders and fishing paraphernalia, Sir Edward showed a remarkable turn of speed as he arrived breathless beside his son to help him land his catch.  

Mr Sowerby added: “He loved his fishing and the peace of its surroundings, and he applied the same expertise and ingenuity to it as to everything else he did.” 

His success at the bar is well known culminating in his promotion to the High Court where one of his more prominent cases was the collapse of Barings Bank in February 1995. Specialising in commercial disputes, Sir Edward’s cases were usually enormously complex. 

He was also well-known for his love of the countryside and nature, often seen with his well-worn brown tweed coat and brown felt hat. 

When gravel had to be extracted from the river valley in Marlingford, he insisted an island be left for terns to nest as part of the new lake. In addition, a family of Bewick’s swans became regular visitors along with all manner of birds, some rare. When he retired in 2008, his family built him a hide where he spent many happy hours. 

He adored cricket and was responsible for creating two grounds – at Marlingford and Great Melton. As well as being the benefactor of Great Melton Cricket Club, he became its patron in 1994.  

Another passion was his interest in the Romans. To his great delight, significant Roman artefacts were found on the estate and he would consult with his daughter Sophy, who graduated with a degree in archaeology, about these finds. 

And although his dream of unearthing a Roman villa during one of the many digs he sponsored on the estate never came to fruition, other treasures were discovered such as a Medieval crucifix. 

Adding a final string to his bow, he took up the cello during his retirement. 

Members of the Hethersett Dementia Support Group with chairman David Bills (standing right) and new

Members of the Hethersett Dementia Support Group with chairman David Bills (standing right) and patron Sir Edward Evans-Lombe (standing left) - Credit: Archant

Mr Sowerby added: “He was truly a man of many parts. 

“He was humble and unpretentious. He did not give himself airs. He was interested in things. He listened to people whoever they were. He was kind and generous. He understood and accepted the duties and obligations and the responsibility to others that his positions as judge and landowner brought with them. 

“There was an integrity and an incorruptibility which ran through everything he did and above all he left his mark on this corner of Norfolk that was so dear to him.”

Sir Edward died at home with his family by his side on May 20 aged 85. His family described him as “gentle and kind”.