Lady Elizabeth Godsal MBE
DescriptionIn addition to being the 19th High Steward of Wokingham, Lady Elizabeth was Vice Lord-Lieutenant of the Royal County of Berkshire, between 2005 and 2011. She also held the office of High Sheriff of Berkshire in 1990; was Chief President of St. John Ambulance and was chairman of the Board of Visitors at Reading Prison.
She is a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St John and was invested as a Member, Order of the British Empire in 2001 for services to the community, especially the St John Ambulance Brigade in Berkshire. With her usual modesty she said after the ceremony, “I was obviously absolutely thrilled when I found out but I immediately thought of all the people who have done so much more than me.”
Another important moment in her life occurred in November 2004 at Kensington Palace when she was present when Nelson Mandela was made a Bailiff Grand Cross. She has a very prized possession of a group photograph of her standing behind him. “It was such a great thrill to meet such a great man”.
Born at home, Prince of Wales Drive, Battersea, London on the 10th of April 1939, Lady Elizabeth Cameron Stopford is the younger daughter of James Montagu Burgoyne Stopford (1908-1975) M.B.E., 8th Earl of Courtown, and Christina Margaret Cameron (1913-2008). Lady Elizabeth is proud of her ancestry, also being a descendant of the noble House of Neville which makes her the first female member and the 8th member of the Neville family to serve as High Steward of Wokingham. Sir Henry Neville, was Lady Elizabeth’s (9 x great) grandfather. The last member of the family to hold this position was her great-great-grandfather, Charles Cornwallis Neville, 5th Lord Braybrooke who was the 12th High Steward.
Other ancestors of Lady Elizabeth to have achieved fame
include grand-uncle, Vice-Admiral the Hon. Arthur Stopford (1879-1955),
C.M.G., who served in the South African War and who was later captain of the aircraft-carrier H.M.S. Hermes; grandfather, the 7th Earl of Courtown (1877-1957), who served in the South African War and later in the War Office as deputy assistant adjutant-general, and her other grandfather, Admiral John Ewen Cameron (1874-1939), C.B., M.V.O. who also served in the South African War. He later commanded H.M.S. Phaeton, helped to destroy a Zeppelin and was appointed A.D.C. to the king.
Lady Elizabeth married farmer Alan Anthony Colleton Godsal (1926-2011) in 1962. Son of Hugh Godsal (1893-1936), Alan is a great nephew of the legendary Thomas Colleton Garth (1822-1907), Master of the Garth Hunt from 1852 to 1902. The Godsal residence is at Hurst on the Haines Hill Estate, which encompasses parts of Twyford and Ruscombe. :They have three children Lucy Violet (b.1964); Hugh Colleton (b.1965) and Laura Christina (b.1968).
Haines Hill has been occupied by the Godsal family for almost three hundred years during which it has provided employment for generations of local people. The estate has a long and interesting history having been acquired by James Edward Colleton (1710-1790), son of Sir John Colleton 1st Baronet of Exeter (1608-1666) in 1736. Sir John was a Royalist whose support of Charles I had cost a considerable part of the family fortune and much more was lost when the Parliamentarians took over his property.
After the King’s defeat Sir John retired to his estates in Barbados until after the Restoration in 1660 when Charles II created him a baronet. Three years later the King appointed him one of the eight lord proprietors to whom he awarded vast tracts of land in Carolina, America. Colleton County in South Carolina is named after Sir John who introduced a species of flowering shrub to England from South Carolina. The shrub was named Magnolia Grandiflora Exmouthiensis and was adopted as the flower for Exmouth.
In her leisure hours, which must be very few, Lady Elizabeth listens to opera and takes her two Labradors for walks. She admits to being not being very successful at sports mainly because of her lack of co-ordination. In her earlier years she used to dread having to accept invitations to weekend tennis parties.
Lady Elizabeth takes her position as High Steward very seriously designing her uniform and badge of office which depicts her personal coat of arms. She has also created the High Steward of Wokingham Award, an inscribed glass bowl, the first of which she awarded in 2009 to Philip Ellis, principal conductor of the West Forest Sinfonia for his years of dedication.
In 2018 Lady Elizabeth stood down as High Steward owing to health issues, feeling she was no longer capable of carrying out her duties adequately, and was replaced by her daughter Lucy Zeal.
During her years as High Steward she has been involved in many voluntary organisations as a Trustee, President or Patron in Wokingham, including Wokingham Cancer Care; The Wokingham Society; Wokingham Crisis House; W.A.D.E. (Wokingham & District Association for the Elderly); Wokingham and Bracknell Mencap; West Forest Sinfonia, as well as being President of Berkshire Girl Guiding; Governor of Reading Blue Coat School; trustee of Reading Municipal Charities; President of Twyford Age Concern, and President of Twyford Together.
Still very active she attended over 80 events in 2009. She is the National Vice-President of retired members of St. John Ambulance; patron of the West Forest Sinfonia; president of Twyford Age Concern; patron of Wokingham Crisis House; trustee of Reading Municipal Charities; patron of W.A.D.E. (Wokingham & District Association for the Elderly) and president of Wokingham and Bracknell Mencap; West Forest Sinfonia, s well as being President of Berkshire Girl Guiding; Governor of Reading Blue Coat School; trustee of Reading Municipal Charities; President of Twyford Age Concern, and President of Twyford Together.
SourceNotes from Jim Bell.
“Lady Elizabeth Godsal MBE,” Wokingham's Virtual Museum, accessed July 9, 2020, https://wokingham-tc.gov.uk/museum/document/WTH0328.