Robert Brown, co-founder of The Winchester Bookshop and former Major in the British Army, died suddenly and unexpectedly at home on Monday 4th April 2022. He was 74 years old.

Robert was a kind, gentle and occasionally stubborn man, with an eclectic array of interests including literature, family and local history, birding, industrial heritage, vintage transport, music and art, crosswords, and sudoku.  He enjoyed visiting Pre-Raphaelite art exhibitions and Victorian pumping stations, listened to everything from opera to Nepalese folk music, kept the drinks cabinet well stocked with chartreuse, sherry and icewine, and loved to share a bad pun or his latest auction find. His homemade sourdough and crepes Suzette were legendary.  An avid collector of books and lover of the obscure and unusual, he has left such an extensive library behind that the family aren’t quite sure what to do with it all!

The youngest of three, Robert was born in Harlington, Hayes in 1947.  One of his earliest memories was running away on the day the King died, when he was only four years old, and this early escapade set the tone for a lifetime of travel.  His boyhood was filled with adventures riding to the ends of the bus and train lines, and a later career in the army took him all over the world. Robert read English at the University of Kent, and it was in Canterbury he developed a love of horses and riding, and where he started his lifelong passion for collecting books. After university he briefly worked in the transport office at Nestles, a job he hated, before signing up for his Officer Training at Mons Officer Cadet School in Aldershot. Robert initially served in the 36 Heavy Air Defence Regiment, which took him to Germany, Sweden, and Northern Ireland, followed by a transfer to the Pay Corps and travel to Nepal and Hong Kong.  Robert married Lynn-Amanda in 1980 and two daughters followed, Harriet and Eleanor.  

In the mid 80s Robert left the army and began a new career in the NHS.  He continued to pursue his interests from his university days, purchasing a horse, Charlie, and founding the Winchester Bookshop in 1991. He worked at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital for a few years, before moving across to the North & Mid Hampshire Health Authority in Basingstoke. It was there, after his divorce, that he met Becky in the late 1990s, and the new travel adventures began – this time, annual book buying adventures to America, which doubled up as holidays visiting his much loved sister Lisa in Pittsburgh. Robert retired on ill health grounds from the NHS at the beginning of this century, and it was then the books and the bookshop became the day to day focus of his life. He and Becky married in 2006, and the two of them were fortunately able to take the time to enjoy together his part time retirement (a bookseller never really retires.)  The two shared a love of birds, which for the past eight years had taken them to southern Portugal every winter where they enjoyed months of birding adventures, hikes and delicious Portuguese food.

This ‘verray, parfit gentil knyght’ will be sorely missed by his wife Becky, daughters Harriet and Eleanor, brother Peter, granddaughter Tabitha and first wife Lynn-Amanda. He will also be mourned by a wide circle of friends and acquaintances throughout Winchester and beyond.  The family would love to hear your memories of Robert – if anyone has a story to share or would like details of the memorial service then please email them at OldBookPerson @ gmail.com

73 thoughts

  1. I’m so sorry to read of your loss Becky, I’ve only just found this through Jo. What a lovely tribute to someone who was obviously a remarkable man and a wonderful and loving husband who will be very much missed by a lot of people. Sending hugs to you and hoping you’re doing okay xx

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  2. You and your ‘verray, parfit gentil knyght’ are often in my thoughts. Like Marilyn, your sweet, loving tribute makes me feel I would have liked to have known him.

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    1. There are good moments and bad since I lost him. Today though I am able to focus on wonderful memories, and much appreciate all the messages of support. So thank you

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  3. I was just thinking I hadn’t seen a lot from you lately and then I saw this post. Very sad! I’m sorry for your loss. What a lovely photo to capture your husband’s memory. ❤️

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  4. Oh, Becky, I feel so privileged to be able to read this beautiful tribute to Mr B. It leaves tears in my eyes and a huge lump in my throat. Still sending you lots of love and countless hugs.

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  5. You’ve definitely been on my this past couple of days. I know how much you adored and loved Robert. Tie another knot and hold on. His love for you and your love for him will help guide you through this sad time. Sending lots of hugs and prayers.

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    1. Thank you so much Cee, and also for all your lovely messages every week. It is helping me lots. Sending you and Chris lots of love too xx

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      1. I keep thinking of messaging you, but I don’t want to intrude. I know this must be so hard for you. But do know that I think of you often and sending you my love.

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  6. Thank you for sharing, Becky. Like you I found my special person later in life. All the best things in life are worth waiting for and they will always be treasured x

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  7. Dear Becky. I lack the right words – because there are no right words for this very wrong loss. I ache at the thought of the depths of his absence in your world. What a lovely and loving tribute you have penned. I’m sure your husband would feel touched at feeling the love you describe. My condolences to you and his family and all who knew and loved him.

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  8. This leaves a huge lump in my throat, Becky. It’s very brave of you to share this. Your mind must have wandered in so many directions as you reminisced. I’m glad for the times you shared together, and glad to know a little more about a man whom I was privileged to meet but never to know well. I need to read back through his amazing life. God bless! Sending hugs and much love.

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    1. There are good moments and bad, but I am functioning thanks to all the amazing support around me and I include you in that network, so thank you

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  9. So privileged to have had the chance to read this already. He does seem so much to be a man whom very many people would have cause to mourn and miss. Sending love and positive thoughts, as ever.

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    1. Thanks Margaret for your lovely words, and for all your messages and email. Means so much. Hope you are having a marvellous time on your travels. Look forward to catching up with you in person in July xx

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