Rupert Walker

SOOKE HISTORY: Rupert Walker, son of Lady Emily

Rupert was a son of Lady Emily Walker, and therefore his growing up years were a little different than most of us.

Little boys are endearing whatever the era they grow up in, and surely none more so than little Rupert Walker, photographed in East Sooke at Ragley shortly after 1912.

Most little guys of the pioneer era in Sooke would not have been wearing a fine outfit such as this, but Rupert was a son of Lady Emily Walker, and therefore his growing up years were a little different than most of  us.

Rupert’s mother Lady Emily Walker arrived in the summer of 1912, with her husband Rev. Reginald Walker.

A titled member of Britain’s famous Seymour family arriving on our shores, settling in this remote corner of the far-flung British Empire, naturally caused speculation about the reason they left a comfortable Anglican parish where Rev. Walker was the Vicar of Frant, near London.

There is no record of the Rev. Walker ministering to a parish after their arrival here.

It is now 104 years since their property, called Ragley after the magnificent Ragley Manor in Derbyshire, became home to these unexpected immigrants.

It was understood that Lady Emily, born Lady Emily Seymour, daughter of the Marquis and Marchioness of Hertford, had been a close friend of Prince George, Duke of York.

Possibly this friendship was relatively acceptable, but when the old King Edward died in 1910, there was a new era, and the Duke of York became King George V.

At any rate, for whatever reason, Lady Emily and her husband, accompanied by four sons and a daughter, arrived at this outpost of Empire in 1912.

While the family was accompanied by a retinue of servants, a tutor and governess, most soon left for new pastures and much pioneering work to establish the farm was done by the Walker family themselves.

The only daughter, Margaret, became the wife of Frank Caffery, and it was her daughter Kay (Caffery) Jeffrey that many Sooke folk got to know so well.

All of Lady Emily’s children are listed in Burke’s Peerage.

Sadly, three of her sons, Seymour, Eric and Lionel, met an untimely end.

Son Rupert (in the photo) became a registered nurse, and Sooke’s well-known Joan Titus recalled nursing with him at Royal Jubilee Hospital in the 1960s.

Driving west on East Sooke Road today, watch for the two stately Douglas-fir trees framing a driveway to today’s Ragley farm, which now runs a popular market garden and gathering place.

In time, this little fellow Rupert was the only son left.  In possession of his mother’s personal diaries, he chose to burn them rather than have them fall into outsiders’ hands.

We’ve sometimes speculated on the secrets they contained, and what light they might have cast on how the Walkers came to leave their Anglican parish in Britain for the wilderness of East Sooke.

•••

Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum.