This article is based on material sent by Dr Jimmy Whittaker, Feb 2018.
Lord Fermoy, who lived at Eddington House, was born Edmund Maurice Burke Roche on 20 Mar 1939 in Westminster, London. He was the only son of Maurice Roche, 4th Baron Fermoy and a former Conservative MP. His grandmother Ruth, Dowager Lady Fermoy, had been lady-in- waiting to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother for 30 years. Lord Fermoy's sister, Frances Shand-Kydd, was the mother of Princess Diana, making Lord Fermoy her uncle.
He was educated at Eton School and then attended the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. On graduation, he was commissioned into the Royal Horse Guards, where he won the Grand Military Gold Cup whilst riding his mount Baxter at Sandown in 1963, in only his second steeple chase race. This race, about 3 miles in length, is open to horses at least five years old and only to riders currently or ex- serving members of the armed services. The race has been running since 1841 and generally takes place in March each year.
In 1964, at Westminster, Lord Fermoy married Lavinia Frances Elizabeth Pitman (born 1941), daughter of John Pitman and Elizabeth Donaldson (a descendent of Sir Isaac Pitman). They subsequently had four children and eight grandchildren:
- Hon. Frances Caroline Burke Roche (31 Mar 1965)
- Hon. Elizabeth Burke Roche (27 Mar 1966–2 Apr 1966)
- Maurice Burke Roche, who became the 6th Baron Fermoy (11 Oct 1967)
- Hon. Edmund Hugh Burke Roche (5 Feb 1972- )
He moved to Eddington in the early 1970s and took an active part in the local community. He was a Newbury District Councillor (1976-1979), a Hungerford Town councillor, and Mayor of Hungerford (1983-84). He was also active in the local farming community and became President of the Newbury Agricultural Show in 1976.
Whilst living at Eddington House he established Eddington Bindery Ltd, a book-binding company which he based in the stable block.
Sadly on 19 Aug 1984, aged just 45, after suffering from depression over a period of time, he committed suicide in the stable block. He died from self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Probate was granted on 13 th November 1984, revealing that he was quite a wealthy man leaving an estate worth £2,741,155.
Lord Fermoy’s grave is to be found in St Mary Magdalene Churchyard, Sandringham, near Kings Lynn in Norfolk. The estate was offered for sale at £3 million in April 1985 and was bought by Sir Peter Michael , a high tech guru who founded Quantel in Newbury.
Ten years after his death, Lady Fermoy married Nigel Edward Corbally Stourton, a grandson of Alfred Stourton, 23rd Baron Mowbray.