One of the West Midlands' prominent aristocrats, the Earl of Aylesford, has died at the age of 89.
Former war hero and magistrate Charles Ian Finch-Knightley lived at Packington Old Hall, near Meriden, and owned a 5,000-acre estate including 11 tenanted farms, a golf course, deer park and trout and coarse fishery.
His land was said to be worth over £30 million and his other assets, including an extensive art collection, reportedly took the family wealth past £40 million.
In 1979, he and his family suffered a major setback when fire destroyed part of Packington Hall. Repairs cost about £1 million, but the cause of the blaze was never established, although it was thought it could have been started by a workman's blowtorch.
Born in November 1918, the earl was educated at Oundle in Northamptonshire and served in the Black Watch in the Second World War, gaining the rank of captain, and was wounded by friendly fire while in service in Sicily.
Described by close friends as a true gentleman and with no airs or graces who knew the real meaning of a hard day's work, he was concerned with the development of the community in and around Meriden throughout his life. He also introduced the many enterprises on his estate and oversaw the construction of a leading environmental land-fill site at Little Packington.
Appointed a Justice of the Peace, sitting on the Coleshill bench, in 1948, he succeeded to the title of the 11th Earl of Aylesford on March 20 1958 and at the same time the title of 11th Baron of Guernsey.
Lord Aylesford served as Vice-Lord Lieutenant for the West Midlands between 1964-74 and then as Lord Lieutenant from 1974-93, only standing down when he reached the age of 75. It was a role that he considered extremely important and entailed accompanying royals during their visits to the West Midlands.
A former member of the then Meriden Rural District Council, he was also closely involved with the scouting movement in the area, holding the position of County Commissioner.
He married Margaret Rosemary Tyler, the daughter of Major Austin Arnold Tyler, in March 1946 who died in 1989. They had three children - Charles Heneage Finch-Knightley Lord Guernsey, 60, who has succeeded to the Earldom of Aylesbury; Lady Sarah Elizabeth Jane Finch-Knightley who died in September 2005 and Lady Clare Charlotte Rosemary Finch-Knightley.
The earl died at Heartlands Hospital last month after being taken ill the previous day. A private funeral took place in the family chapel on the Packington Estate and a memorial service will be held at the chapel on May 9 which is expected to attract more than 200 guests.