Brigadier General Richard Mildmay Foot (1865-1933) was a decorated British Army officer from Berkhamsted. Mostly known for his heroic service in the First World War, Foot also played an important part in the preservation of Berkhamsted Castle.
Foot served in the Boer War with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, and in the First World War with the 47th (2nd London) Division, the 62nd Division and the 2nd Army Corps. For his service in the Great War he received a Distinguished Service Order, a Belgian Croix de Guerre and Order of Leopold, a French Croix de Guerre and was made a Companion of the Bath and a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George.
In 1902, Foot married his second wife, Miss Lucy Anne Cooper, in Cape Town, South Africa. They returned to the UK and lived at Whitehill, a large house near Berkhamsted Castle which has since been demolished. Lucy Anne was the eldest daughter of Sir Richard Powell Cooper of Shenstone Court, Lichfield. Foot was appointed Estates Manager of the family firm, the agricultural chemicals company William Cooper and Nephews that once dominated Berkhamsted, eventually rising to become vice-chairman of Cooper, McDougall and Robertson Ltd.
Coopers was later absorbed into the pharmaceuticals company Wellcome.
In 1924, Richard Mildmay Foot and his wife, Lucy Ann, decided to purchase the land immediately around the Castle from the trustees of Lord Brownlow’s estate to protect it from development and to use as pasture for their animals. In an era when the town was expanding rapidly and tracts of land were being sold off by the country estate owners, Foot’s acquisition was instrumental in safeguarding the Berkhamsted Castle site from development.
After the land passed to Cooper, McDougall and Robertson Limited on the death of Mrs Foot, Coopers used the strip of land to the east of the Castle for grazing sheep. The land remained in the possession of successor companies until it was generously donated to Berkhamsted Castle Trust for maintenance as a national asset.
Richard Mildmay Foot bred Irish Setters, and named his dogs’ blood line Beorcham (an ancient bame for Berkhamsted), a name that is still listed in the Kennel Club Directory. When he died in 1933, his devoted wife Lucy Anne erected a memorial bench next to his grave in Rectory Lane Cemetery, Berkhamsted, with the two arms sculpted in the form of a pair of Irish Setters.