The Benson link with Pepys

Dr Richard Luckett in 1978

In Rye News’ last edition of 2020 we published an obituary illustrated with a portrait of Samuel Pepys (diarist and founder of the Royal Navy) as Dr Luckett had been the librarian of the Pepys Library in Magdalene College in Cambridge for many years, and we did not have a photo of Dr Luckett who had retired to the Rye area.

However the photo shown above and now received from Magdalene College, Cambridge of Dr Richard Luckett was taken in 1978 in the Magdalene College Fellows’ Gardens. But why did he retire to this area?

A previous article in Rye News possibly provides a clue, as a room in Magdalene (used for talks on Pepys) is called the Benson Room after a former Master of the College, and that Benson was a brother of EF Benson who was Mayor of Rye, lived in Lamb House, and wrote the “Mapp and Lucia” books. So Magdalene College has a very strong link to Rye, and that was possibly why Dr Luckett retired here.

Image Credits: Magdalene College, Cambridge .


  1. Richard was full of stories about his connections with famous people from East Sussex like Vita Sackville-West and Rye characters such as genius painter Edward Burra and Vita Sackville West and Joseph Conrad. His knowledge of art was extensive and we shared a passion for c18 performers and English Theatre music. He was was kind, generous and happy to share his knowledge over a glass or two of good wine! He will be greatly missed.

    Julian Day
    Curator – Rye Art Gallery

  2. The E.F.Benson Society was very grateful to Dr Luckett for allowing our early visits to Magdalene College to see A.C.Benson’s voluminous diary. Arthur Benson’s references to his brother, Fred Benson, were seen and it was touching to note that only as he recovered from his last great depression, partly at Lamb House, did he come to appreciate Fred’s kindness. Before, he had usually seen him as a bit snobbish and trivial. The Society visited Cambridge several times over the years, but Dr Luckett’s original welcome made us decide a couple of years ago to donate the only surviving diary by Fred Benson to the College. It is more a common place book that covers his last year at Marlborough College and early years at King’s. It had been given to the Society in the early 1980’s by Kenneth Rose, and had been used by the first biographer of the Benson family, Betty Askwith. She was one of our Vice-Presidents and she allowed us to reprint her Benson biography from Two Victorian Families, as Magdalene allowed us to publish Arthur Benson’s unpublished biography of his mother, Mary Benson. The College has always been most welcoming to Benson enthusiasts and this started with Dr. Luckett and continues to this day.


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