Gallery: The day Prince Philip came to stay - age 6

DELVING into the history of one well-known Saxmundham family has unearthed photographs of a visit from a young prince.

Lizzie Parry

DELVING into the history of one well-known Saxmundham family has unearthed photographs of a visit from a young prince.

For more than 100 years three generations of the Ryder-Richardson family have cared for the local community as GPs at the town's medical practice.

But it was only when a local history project researched the family's heritage that a fascinating royal link was discovered.

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Sue Rusack, the daughter of Dr John Ryder-Richardson, who died several years ago, said: “I was absolutely stunned when I heard the interest in the story. I had lent the family album to somebody to do a church history project on Saxmundham and that is how it all came about.”

It has emerged that sometime in the early months of 1927, the Ryder-Richardsons received a special royal guest, Prince Philip of Greece, as he was then. Little did they know they had in fact welcomed England's future Prince Consort and Duke of Edinburgh, who still regularly visits Suffolk making trips with the Queen to Helmingham Hall.

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The six-year-old prince was travelling with his companion Emily Roose, from his home in Paris and was believed to be heading for Somerleyton Hall near Lowestoft.

Miss Roose, a nurse trained at St Thomas's Hospital in London, stopped off to visit an old nursing friend, Mary Elizabeth Ryder-Richardson who she trained with in the 1880s.

Today John's sister, Helen Ryder-Richardson, 85, of Church Close, Kelsale, who was three years old at the time, said she remembers Prince Philip and his visit fondly.

“I remember we had this very nice nursery with window seats and big windows, which we used to look out of,” she said.

“I think one of my brothers let the window down onto the back of my head and Philip got very cross with him and told him off for treating his sister like that.

“He really enjoyed playing around, we would always be doing things, playing with trains, building bricks, going out for walks, we always had a walk in the afternoons.

“His mother would send me clothes from his sisters and his sister Sophie sent me a doll, which is still in the family. She was called Sophie after Philip's sister.”

Her niece Sue, who lives in Sweffling, added: “My father used to tell us the story of how he and Philip used to play fight and scrap on the lawns. Philip always won because he was bigger my father used to say.

“They used to fight about who was more important, doctors or kings. It was a lovely story, Kings always won because although he was only three months older than my father Philip was bigger.”

During their stay at the Ryder-Richardson's family home, The Beeches in Saxmundham, Prince Philip's companion Miss Roose was taken ill and required an operation, organised for her by John Charles Ryder-Richardson, the doctor in Saxmundham, who was also called to the scene of the legendary Peasenhall murder.

Writing to thank the Ryder-Richardson's for their care, Prince Philip's mother Princess Alice of Greece said she was grateful her son's companion was looked after so well.

The EADT is thankful to the parish magazine for the Alde Valley, 'Ebb and Flow' for letting us know about the pictures' existence.

Princess Alice of Greece, Prince Philip's mother to the Dr John Charles Ryder-Richardson:

I have been very busy lately and only today am I able to write and thank you for your letter telling me about Miss Roose's operation which was much severer than I thought it would be.

I am only too thankful that she was staying with you at the time and that she could be properly taken in hand immediately.

I hear she is making a very good recovery but of course once up she will not realise how long it takes till one's full strength come back.

I am writing to her tomorrow to tell her how my little Philip has enjoyed his Easter egg hunt. She will want to hear all about it.

May I add all my sincere thanks for all your care for which I am most grateful.

Sincerely yours

Alice, Princess of Greece.

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