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  • Writer's pictureJames McGee

Robert Hardy...historian

Sad to learn that Robert Hardy passed away today, at the grand age of 91.

He was certainly one of our most recognizable actors and greatly admired by both the older and the younger generations.

I'm of an age where I knew him originally as Siegfried Farnon in the TV adaptation of James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small and for the many Shakespearean roles he inhabited on the small screen.

Those who love the Harry Potter films will know him as the Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge.

Hardy was also greatly revered for his portrayal of Churchill, most memorably in the series Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years., Bomber Harris and War and Remembrance.

For the history buffs among us, however, he was also known as the world's greatest authority on the English longbow.

His interest in medieval warfare began when he was playing Henry V and in 1963 he wrote and presented an acclaimed television documentary about the Battle of Agincourt.

He was the author of two books on the subject of the longbow: Longbow: A Social and Military History (which, incidentally, has never been out of print) and The Great Warbow: from Hastings to the Mary Rose, which he co-wrote with Matthew Strickland.

So respected was he that he was one of the experts consulted by the archaeologist responsible for raising the Mary Rose, Doctor Margaret Rule. He subsequently became a trustee and consultant to the Mary Rose Trust.

He was also a trustee for 11 years of the Royal Armouries at the Tower of London as well as Master of the Worshipful Company of Bowyers of the City of London from 1988 to 1990. In 1996 he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

If anyone is interested, here are links to a couple of excellent You Tube videos: Robert Hardy - Two Lives and Two Ships and Robert Hardy -Churchill in My Life, in which he talks to the lecturers and students of Hillsdale College, Michigan about his long career in theatre and film, and as an historian.

Robert Hardy 1925 - 2017

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