IF you ever find yourself strolling about the arboretum at Queenswood, spare a thought for the remarkable man whose vision led to the creation of this leafy beauty spot halfway between Hereford and Leominster.

Beloved by families, dog walkers and visitors in general, Dinmore Hill’s leafy domain continues to enchant people of all ages from the youngest, pursuing the Gruffalo trail with zeal, to those seeking serenity among the splendour of the trees.

County land agent and valuer, the late Grevile H. Philips was the architect of Queenswood, and stood beside Queen Mary when she planted a ceremonial tree in 1937.

Over 80 years later his step-daughter, historian and food writer Helen Simpson remembers him with great affection and tells the story of a man who was at the heart of county life in Herefordshire.

“My father used to take us up to Queenswood, in fact we used to call it ‘Grevile’s Wood’,” said Mrs Simpson, who lives with her husband, Commander Robert Simpson at Burton Court. She recalled how her family grew oak saplings in the greenhouse at home in preparation for a ceremonial tree-planting by the Queen and Prince Philip in 1954.

“My father saw it as a ‘people’s park’,” she said.

Mr Phillips, son of Major W.J. Phillips, an hereditary freeman of Hereford, was chief executive officer of Herefordshire War Agricultural Committee during the two world wars, a role which earned him the OBE in 1946.

Between the two wars he was responsible for the acquisition and development of Queenswood as a country park.

The setting was bought by a county committee under the chairmanship of Lord Somers as a memorial to the jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary.

Mr Phillips was also a gifted water diviner and succeeded in finding sources for many county council smallholders. As part of the emergency war effort, he supplied animal food supply coupons to smallholders during the Second World War. When he died, many of those farmers doffed their caps in recognition as Mr Phillip’s large funeral procession made its way to St Peter’s Church where he had been vicar’s warden for 40 years.

He left the church a series of local paintings, and even more importantly left the city of Hereford the noted 1815 painting, Butcher’s Row by David Cox, which includes the only surviving building in the row, Hereford’s Old House.

“Grevile was a very kind, patient and generous father to us, leaving us five daughters, famous paintings in his will,” said Mrs Simpson. She despairs of the fact the picture he gave to Hereford is now never shown to the public. “How we need a public art gallery museum,” she said, suggesting that Hereford Town Hall could house the Cox masterpiece.

Earlier in her step-father’s career, he was in court at Hereford Shirehall for the 1922 murder trial of Major Herbert Rowse Armstrong, the only solicitor in UK history to be hanged as a convicted murderer. Mrs Simpson remembers her step-father talking about the trial.

“He had an office in the Shirehall and crept in at the back,” she said. “Apparently Major Armstrong would suddenly grip the dock every time there was a difficult question.”

Mr Phillips married her mother, Mrs Mary Norton who had been widowed, and the family, including her five daughters, lived happily at the Friars House in Hereford, reputed to be the city’s oldest family building. Indeed there were said to be ancient passages once used by the monks, which led down to the river.

Mrs Simpson clearly recalls when bombs fell on Hereford’s munitions’ factory at Rotherwas. “I can remember running for the shelter at the back of Eign Street.”

She continued: “As children, we would visit Queenswood with my father to see how the new arboretum was developing, and in the 1950s to see the American redwood trees. He was very happy with all the progress.

“In the 1970s after my marriage I had three American maple trees planted in my name which are glorious in the autumn colours now.”

With spring around the corner, Mrs Simpson advocates a visit to Queen’s Wood.

“It is nearly time for the bluebell show, delighting all who pass through on the A49!”

She makes one plea: “Spare a thought, then, for my wonderful, creative step-father.”