Obituary: Land agent and country show president dies aged 93

Sponsors of Aylsham Show at Fakenham Races, May 23, 2010.
Michael Rogers, Jacinth Rogers.

Michael Rogers with his wife, Jacinth Rogers, at Fakenham Races in May 2010 - Credit: Bob Hobbs/JASON BYE

A quiet-spoken land agent Michael Rogers, who has died aged 93 at his Norfolk home, helped to transform the Aylsham Show into one of the country’s biggest one-day celebrations of food and farming.

As a former chairman of the Aylsham Agricultural Show Association, later elected president in 1989, he encouraged a more professional approach to running the highly-successful charitable event. For four decades, he was at the heart of the show and was especially delighted when his wife, Jacinth, became president in 2003.

Saxthorpe, pic of this years Aylsham Show President Jacinth Rogers, and her husband John. Pic for Iv

Michael and Jacinth Rogers pictured in 2003 - Credit: Sam Robbins

Michael James Rogers was born on May 5, 1928 in Kent. His parents had also welcomed a Jewish girl into their home, who had been sent to Britain on a kindertransport from Nazi Germany shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War. His schooling was interrupted by the war and when the family home, close to the RAF station, Biggin Hill, was strafed, he was sent to Taunton School, Somerset.

He did his two years’ National Service in the Army, mostly based in West Germany against the backdrop of the Berlin Airlift, which finally ended after 11 months in May 1949.

He qualified as a land agent, initially joining the long-established firm Sir Alfred Savill, in Dorset, where it had moved during the war.

In 1954, he joined the National Trust’s team of land agents, initially working in its headquarters, and then was promoted.

Based in Surrey, one of his first tasks was looking after historic houses in Surrey and Sussex including Polesden Lacey and the Flindon estate before becoming regional agent for the north home counties.

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In August 1978, he was promoted regional agent for Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, responsible for 20,794 acres and 19 historic houses – including 13 open to the public. At this time, these estates including Blickling, Felbrigg and Wimpole generated significant farming income for the trust. Later, he was the chief agent for all its properties, based in London, and then in 1986, he retired after 32 years’ service.

He was widely respected as a professional land agent, arguably of the old school, who understood the importance of balancing competing interests of landlord and tenants. Again, this aspect was invaluable when he became actively involved in running the Aylsham Show and working with the National Trust on Blickling Park, where the annual event has been staged for most of the past half-century.

He had a lifelong interest in country and field sports, which had started while at school in the West Country. Following the Quantock Staghounds on Exmoor for the first time aged 13, he was “blooded” and was given the deer “slot” as a keepsake. Later, he took up beagling and was a car follower with the Norfolk Beagles Hound Club until just a few weeks ago.

However, his driving passion was fishing and he first up took a rod on the River Barle in Exmoor when trout and even salmon were more abundant.

Having moved to Norfolk, in 1984 he joined Blickling Fishing Club, which had been founded in 1911 by a former agent to the Marquess of Lothian, who had left his estate to the trust. He always found time to encourage others to take up a rod and freely shared his great knowledge of the waters of the Bure. He probably took as much pleasure from watching others successfully land a fine trout.

He was chairman, then president in 2014 and became the club’s patron in 2019 when he could no longer fish. He was successful with a particular type of fly, the Grey Wullf.

He knew every yard of the Bure, which flowed through the Blickling estate, and would carefully select the right lure to tempt the elusive trout.

In 1997, he and a small group of members started a long-term project to “re-wild” the river, slow water flow and cut back over-hanging vegetation. A bridge over the river, partly funded by his donations, bears his name.

He was married to Jacinth for 52 years. He leaves one son and two daughters, nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. His sister predeceased.

A private funeral will be held later this month.