It is with much sadness that the Wilton family announce the death of Jane Wilton, known to her pupils as Miss Bateman, beloved wife, mother and grandmother, who died on Monday 4 December at her home in Sandy Lane, Limpsfield after a short battle with cancer. She leaves behind her husband Michael and children, Richard, Victoria and Robert.
Augusta Caroline “Jane” Wilton, née Bateman, was born on 17 February 1936 in Birmingham. Her father, Dr Hugh Bateman was a Cambridge graduate with a double first in Maths and Engineering and became a university lecturer. He was also involved in early work on the design of Concorde. Her mother, Jill, was a pioneer in women’s education, being one of the first women in the UK to graduate from University in French.
In 1940, the Bateman family moved to Leamington Spa and then further south to Sevenoaks, where Jane attended Walthamstow Hall School for Girls. She was an exceptionally and naturally gifted pianist and cellist, who in 1952 (at the age of 16) won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London, achieving not one, but three degrees in Music and earning herself the treasured letters, LRAM, ARCM and GRSM.
In 1958, Jane joined St Michael’s School, Limpsfield as a Music teacher of piano and cello. She became a house mistress in 1963 and was much respected by both pupils and staff alike and although a believer in discipline, she liked to be regarded as “firm but fair”
An adventurous sort, with a love of travel, Jane developed a keen interest in Archaeology in her twenties and took part in many digs at Selborne Priory in Hampshire.
While her love for archaeology continued, Jane met and married Michael, who was a former pupil at Oxted County School, on 2 April 1965 at St Peter’s Church, Limpsfield. Their first son, Richard was born in 1967, followed by Victoria in 1971 and Robert in 1973.
The couple bought Fir Tree Cottage in Sandy Lane (then a pair of cottages) in 1972 and set about renovating it and creating a beautiful home with a lovely garden, vegetable plots and fruit trees.
Independent and self-reliant, Jane was a keen gardener (both in Limpsfield and at her cottage in Norfolk), bird-watcher and animal lover. She and Michael had a menagerie of pets over the years, including their dogs and cats, goats (that she took out in the car every now and then), a gaggle of geese (that every postman dreaded), a duck (that thought it was a goose) and many chickens.
Limpsfield locals and friends referred to their self-sufficient Sandy Lane “smallholding” as ‘The Good Life’. In fact, the family even featured in a 1970s issue of Woman’s Own, in an article by renowned journalist and broadcaster, Olga Franklin, a former neighbour, who used them as a poster couple for the real-life Tom and Barbara!
That wasn’t her only claim to fame, though. Jane was very keen on antiques and she and Michael also appeared in episodes of The Antiques Roadshow and Flog It.
Aside from her years with St Michael’s School, Jane was a well-known and much-loved member of the Limpsfield community. She was an energetic parent at Limpsfield CofE Infants School, which all three of her children attended; an active member of the choir at St Peter’s for many years and was one of the first supervisors of Memorial Stores when it was taken over by the community.
As a friend and neighbour of the late Valerie Darkin, who lived in Hookwood Park, Jane also administered the Val Darkin Flower Fund for St Peter’s Church for 21 years from 1995 and is still run to this day, currently administered by local resident and friend, Helen Ireland.
While she was indeed respected for her firmness, Jane actually had a very soft centre; a fun-loving nature, a wicked sense of humour and a love of fast driving! She was easy to spot bombing around the village and local lanes in her canary yellow, ancient Micra, which she loved dearly and which still starts first time!
Known for her practical and can-do attitude, thoughtfulness and compassion, Jane was a true friend to everyone she liked and could always be relied upon for help and support. Exceptionally generous and dedicated to music, she donated her beloved black piano to the St Peter’s Church Millennium Room.
Jane will be greatly missed in Limpsfield and by everyone who had the pleasure of truly knowing her.
The funeral will be held at St Peter’s Church, Limpsfield at 11am on Monday 18th December.
The family request that rather than flowers, friends make donations in Jane’s memory to St. Catherine’s Hospice, or to St. Luke’s Cancer Fund in Guildford c/o Ebbutts Funeral Services, High Street, Limpsfield, RH8 0DR.