- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sir Sacheverell Reresby Sitwell

LONDON (AP) _ Sir Sacheverell Reresby Sitwell, who restored the stately home of his famously eccentric family to its former glory, died Tuesday. He was 81.

Sitwell died in a London hospital following a short illness, his family said.

He had been in poor health since suffering a stroke in 2005, Robert Innes-Smith, a longtime friend, told the Derbyshire Evening Telegraph.

In 1965, Reresby Sitwell inherited Renishaw Hall in Derbyshire, the family seat since 1625.

At the time, the rambling three-story, battlemented house near Chesterfield had neither central heating nor electricity. Sitwell and his wife, Penelope, were said to retreat to the warmth of their car after breakfast.

The couple restored the house as well as the Italianate garden laid out by his grandfather in 1895. The garden’s attractions now include the National Collection of Yuccas, the succulent genus native to the southwestern United States. Renishaw also boasts a vineyard, planted in 1972, that until 1986 was certified as the most northerly in the world.

Sitwell was the elder son of Sacheverell Sitwell, who with his brother Osbert and sister Edith were famed for their literary talent and their quirks.

The trio’s oddity no doubt was influenced by their father, George _ Reresby’s grandfather _ who delighted in telling guests: “I must ask anyone entering the house never to contradict me or differ from me in any way, as it interferes with the functioning of my gastric juices and prevents my sleeping at night.”

George Sitwell dined alone, in full evening dress, exclusively on a diet of roast chicken; he invented a revolver for shooting wasps, and wrote a book on “The History of the Fork.”

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