New Bewdley mansion owners pledge to keep historic French connection | Worcester News

Check out what the Worcester News had to say about us keeping the historic French connection of our Bewdley mansion!

Property developers Russell and Samuel Leeds, who bought Ribbesford House in May, have assured relatives of the French cadets they will receive a warm welcome if they wish to visit the country house in future.

They have also put forward the idea of an annual wreath-laying ceremony on VE Day to commemorate the soldiers’ sacrifice during WWII.

The promise to preserve the connection has been made to the Free French association who represent former cadets and their descendants, and sought reassurances from the owners.

In a letter sent to the Leeds Brothers, ex-Free French cadet and president René Marbot said: “Several times since 1945 former cadets have come to pray and honour their colleagues in Ribbesford and Bewdley where they had been welcomed during the war.

“I believe that you will care for our wish to remain in close contact to protect the memory of L’Ecole des Cadets in Ribbesford and the glorious history of British and French friendship which was rewarded with victory against the Nazis.”

The brothers are planning to spend around £1m restoring the dilapidated Grade II listed house and converting it into luxury apartments.

CEO Russell Leeds said: “At the moment the roof is partially collapsed and we need to make it safe, but once that’s been done the members are more than welcome to stroll through the grounds and visit the plaque erected in memory of the cadets.

“The Free French obviously had an excellent relationship with the previous owners, the Howell family, and Samuel and I are very keen to build on that.

“The cadets showed huge courage and tragically one in four of them lost their lives in action.

“We have a great appreciation of history and will do everything we can to remember them and celebrate this very special connection with Ribbesford House.

“Obviously we have to consider the future residents before committing to any concrete proposal, but we would be happy to discuss having a ceremony where wreaths and flowers could be laid at the plaque each year.”

General Charles de Gaulle, who led the French Resistance against Nazi Germany in WWII, visited Ribbesford House several times to see cadets in training prior to D-Day in 1944.

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