The Trust’s History

The early history of the The Ivor Gurney Trust has been documented by Anthony Boden in his excellent essay, ‘Gerald and Joy Finzi – Striving for Ivor Gurney’ (IGS Journal, Vol 15, 2009). However, it might be helpful for the purpose of this article, if I were to provide a brief summary of the Trust’s history up to the present day.

Following Gurney’s death in 1937, Marion Scott, with the agreement of Gurney’s family, became the administrator of his estate and the custodian of his artistic legacy. Upon her death in December 1953, Marion Scott left instructions in her will that expressed the hope that Gerald Finzi should become the next administrator of Gurney’s estate. Her will stated:

“… At the date of his death…Ivor Bertie Gurney was indebted to me in a sum of One hundred and forty three pounds nineteen shillings and eight pence and Letters of Administration of [his] Estate were duly granted to me…(Florence Gurney the mother of the deceased and the person primarily entitled to such grant having renounced Letters of Administration) NOW I HEREBY Give and Bequeath the said debt or so much thereof as shall still be owing to me at the date of my death to Gerald Finzi of Ashmansworth near Newbury Berks for his own use absolutely free of all death duties”.

However, the legal claims to Gurney’s estate resided with his family and as a consequence Gurney’s brother, Ronald decided to exercise his legal rights and obtain a Grant of Administration of Gurney’s estate. This he obtained on the 5th April 1954. For the next 17 years Ronald Gurney remained the sole administrator of Gurney’s literary and musical works. As far as royalties were concerned, these were divided equally between Ronald and his two sisters Winifred and Dorothy. On the 21st January 1971, Ronald Gurney died and his estate was left to his surviving siblings. However, the issue of who should succeed Ronald as the administrator of Gurney’s estate was to prove to be rather more troublesome. Here is Anthony Boden’s description of what happened next: ‘On Ronald’s death, a new Trustee of Ivor’s Estate had to be appointed. His widow, Ethel, although not a blood relative of Ivor, became entitled to Ronald’s one third share and also a voice in the choice of Trustee’ An agreement , as to who should take over this important role. could not be reached. Winifred, favoured the appointment of a Public Trustee.

The matter was finally resolved when a public Grant of Administration was taken out by Lloyds Bank Ltd. The Bank appointed Mr John R Haines (son of John Haines, poet and friend of Ivor Gurney) as the new Trustee on 12th March 1974. Shortly before Mr Haines’s death in 1988, he appointed Mrs Penelope Ann Ely to succeed him. In 2001, Mrs Ely made it known that she wished to relinquish the position as the sole Trustee in favour of a new arrangement that would increase the number of Trustees to three. This arrangement was formalised in a new Deed of Trust, on the 5th December 2001 drawn up by Dee and Griffin – the solicitors who act on behalf of the Ivor Gurney Estate. The newly appointed Trustees were Mr Anthony Boden, as lead Trustee, together with Mr John Phillips and Mr Ian Venables. Following Anthony Boden’s retirement in 2009, Professor Tim Kendall was appointed as a Trustee and Ian Venables became the lead Trustee.

The current trustees are: Mr Ian Venables (Lead) and Professor Tim Kendall

About the trustees:

Ian Venables is regarded as one of Britain’s foremost composers of art-song having been described as ‘a song composer as fine as Finzi and Gurney’ (BBC Music Magazine). Writing tonal music in a warm lyrical vein he has composed over 60 works in this genre, including seven large-scale song cycles. In 2002, he became the chairman the Ivor Gurney Society – a post he held until 2012. He was also appointed a trustee of the Ivor Gurney Trust in 2001. His continuing work on the music of Gurney has led to orchestrations of two of his songs (2003) – counterparts to the two that were orchestrated by Herbert Howells – and newly edited versions of Gurney’s War Elegy (1919) and A Gloucestershire Rhapsody (1921), with Philip Lancaster. He is President of The Arthur Bliss Society and a Vice-President of The Gloucester Music Society.

Professor Tim Kendall is the Head of the department of English at the University of Exeter. He has published a volume of poetry Strange Land (Carcanet, 2005) and authored and edited books on Sylvia Plath, Paul Muldoon, and British war poetry. His most recent publication was The Art of Robert Frost (Yale UP, 2012), and his next will be an anthology of First World War poetry (Oxford World’s Classics, 2013). With Philip Lancaster, he is working on a 3-volume variorum edition of Ivor Gurney’s complete poetry and prose for Oxford English Texts. The first of these volumes, covering the period up to September 1922, will appear in 2014. For further information please visit He was appointed as a trustee of the Ivor Gurney Trust in 2009.