What People Say: Anne & Phillip Hastings

Marilyn originally wrote on 19th July 2004. This version includes later updates:

It was mentioned on the Roding Arts site in June, that two attendees Phillip and Anne Hastings were about to embark on a three-month tour of Phillip’s native South Africa, starting on 8th July. They visited most years, bringing back local handmade artefacts to sell in support of Namibian charities. This particular trip, planned with much excitement over the past year, was to be longer than usual and, with them being intrepid travellers, was to cover several neighbouring countries on the continent.

With great sadness I relay the news that on July 13th they both died instantly in a head-on car crash. Phillip and Anne had driven to Eastern Cape on an unscheduled visit to an ailing life-long friend of Phillip's. Sadly Dennis Thomas died a few hours before their arrival. The accident happened in torrential rain on their return journey to Cape Town. The other driver was hospitalised with minor chest injuries.

Someone once described death as a stunning mystery. It seems all the more so when it is sudden and unexpected. Many in the small Hazle world, including ourselves, feel shock and disbelief at the loss of Phillip and Anne. As some have remarked, at least they died together without suffering in a place they both loved. The memorial service takes place in Cape Town on Friday 23rd July.

Anne and Phillip first came across Hazle Ceramics at a craft fair in the grounds of Hatfield House, Hertfordshire about nine years ago. It was a story Phillip always enjoyed telling - and re-telling! They were both immediately smitten and went on to become the world’s leading collectors, befriending Hazle and Stephen, Len and Lesley, the painters, the stockists, other collectors and just about anyone else along the way.

On a glorious summer’s day in 2002, Chris and I met up with them for lunch at a tearoom in the beautiful village of Beaulieu within the New Forest National Park. We were doing a ceramic swap and the venue was chosen for its proximity to the ferry at Lymington, which they were catching that afternoon to stay with Anne’s sister who had just moved to the Isle of Wight. When I gave Phillip directions and hoped that they would find the place easily, he wryly commented that having just navigated 6000 kilometers round Namibia, Hampshire shouldn’t present too much of a challenge!

Like Hazle, Anne and Phillip also had a passion for tearooms and told us they scoured guidebooks to find ones that were near Hazle stockists! This was one of the many ways they built up their extensive collection, travelling up and down the country in search of retired pieces. We all love a bargain and they delighted in sometimes finding older Hazles at the original retail price.

Although not of the computer generation, Phillip and Anne wanted to be part of the group. A friend and neighbour, also called Lesley, joined on their behalf with the help of a daughter and printed out the postings for them. In early June Anne phoned me with some comments to a particular message and we ended up, as ever, having a long conversation. Having taken advice from a relative, they were due to buy a computer on their return in the autumn. Lesley’s same daughter was going to set things up and they seemed undaunted by the task of getting to grips with it.

In May last year we visited their small Victorian cottage in St Mary Cray, a residential area in Orpington, Kent, to view The Collection. Every single piece of the hundreds they owned was on display and they always enjoyed the opportunity to show them off. Neighbours were often invited to view new acquisitions. A few ceramics had migrated to the capacious brick workshop in the garden, complete with its own cellar. So of course we had to see that too. Built by Philip, with His and Her sections, it was clearly another source of pride and joy! Unsurprisingly they were eager to help in any way with my research for the Hazle book and we had hoped to return with our new digital camera.

The Hastings were well-known and regular visitors at Hazle events and having missed a couple last year for family reasons, they persuaded Hazle to change the date of a Signing so they could get to it! It is often the case that one partner in collector couples is more keen. But with Phillip and Anne it was impossible to tell who was most enthusiastic. At the Harvey Weston event in March, Phillip stayed at home to get on with his unfinished garage, while Anne limited their ceramics to a carefully chosen few. But when Phillip accompanied her to collect the order he couldn’t resist adding four more...

In addition to Signing Specials, they also commissioned many ceramics reflecting their life’s work and interests past and present. Phillip’s nickname in his native land was Honger meaning hungry. The Honger Hastings' Mountain Club ceramic reminded him of earlier days and P W Hastings Plumber Extraordinaire of more recent times.

The name on their Family History Centre was of course “Hastings 1066” (the place and date when William the Conqueror defeated King Harold for our overseas members). St Mary Cray Village Hall speaks for itself - with a Christmas version too. Given the size of their house, the P & A Hastings Bed & Breakfast must have been a bit of a fantasy but isn’t that what Hazle Ceramics are for?! Anne was a nurse who still worked on an occasional basis and their Hazle Nursing Agency was naturally run by her.

In High Street News Issue 17, the front page shows a photo of Hazle and Phillip holding the Collectors Club Gift for 2001, the Builders’ Yard Gate. As it was based on Phillip’s idea each one carried his name: P W Hastings - Builder.

And last but certainly not least, Mrs Hastings' Jam Factory tells the story of Anne’s love of jam making (jelly to our US contingent). Painted as an alternative to Mrs Thomas' China Shop on the Burford model, this was a special gift from Hazle in gratitude for all the jam and in recognition of Philip and Anne being such ardent fans. The Mayor of Brentwood presented it to Anne at Hazle's local Christmas charity event in 2001. If you knew the Hastings it was only a matter of time before you were given a pot of jam - or two! Hazle and some stockists got theirs by the box load... For Anne, jam was a calling card and a thank-you present rolled into one and what a lovely thing that was.

A story goes that a wise man, when asked how to deal with the death of loved ones, replied, “Kind thoughts will reach them wherever they are”.


From Janie on 19th July:

Such a sad accident. Such a lovely tribute.

From Clay on 20th July:

Oh my, what sad news this is. Having lost my Dianne recently I can only wish their family to have the strength to deal with such a sudden loss. My heart goes out to them. And Marilyn, your tribute was wonderful.

From Stephen on 23rd July:

Marilyn, on behalf of Hazle and myself can I thank you for the tribute you posted on the group to Anne and Phillip. It was beautifully done.

It is still hard for us to think that we will not see them again and even though we have just been on a short holiday, memories of them kept popping up. We have written privately to the family via Anne and Philip's home address and we hope that we might hear from them in due course.

Philip's daughter Juliette Hastings later sent a letter out to people who had written.

From Yorkshire Karen on the same day:

I have just returned from 2 weeks holiday in France, and whilst wading through my emails I was really shocked and sad to come across this one. Your tribute is lovely; as you know I don’t attend signings but the only one I went to, at Bright Ideas in Scarborough, I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting this lovely couple. In fact, Phillip had then just come up with the idea for the builders yard and eagerly told us to watch out for his picture in the forthcoming collectors club magazine! They were lovely people, and your tribute portrayed them beautifully.

Please send my love and prayers to their family.

A year later in August 2005, Philip and Anne's friend and neighbour Lesley wrote:

I feel it is time for me to unsubscribe, because I only joined so that my friends PHILLIP and ANNE HASTINGS could keep up to date with Hazle Ceramics. It has been some time now since their sad accident and I feel it's time for me to leave (I couldn't bring myself to do it before). Best regards to you all.

From Marilyn:

Thanks for letting us know. It was nice to talk to you and your daughter last year after Phillip and Anne’s accident. I know they were very grateful for your family’s services.

Hazle emailed Lesley privately to thank her.

From Marilyn on 3rd November 2006:

Juliette, a member of our group, briefly attended the Collectors' Day in January 2005 and kindly donated a few ceramics for the charity auction. Having obtained special permission and after waiting for her cat 'sweetie pie' to recover from a car accident, early in 2006 she scattered Phillip and Anne's ashes on Table Mountain. This overlooks Cape Town and Table Bay in SW South Africa.

From Marilyn on 24 August 2017:

Jannine, the daughter of Phillip's sister in South Africa, has recently read this thread with interest. She kindly sent us a photo of the Honger Hastings ceramic mentioned in the tribute above:

One of the personalised ceramics created for Phillip by Hazle Ceramics in 2001

Last modified on 18 January, 2022
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