Farewell to a born countryman who became a renowned bookseller

A memorial service will be held  near  Garstang next month to celebrate the life of a countryman who turned his passion for rare books into a business.

David Grayling
David Grayling

David Grayling developed a successful and renowned antiquarian business, David A. H. Grayling Rare and Fine Sporting Books, which was based at Shap in Cumbria.

Following his recent death at the age of 82 family and friends will gather at All Saints church at Barnacre on May 29 at 11am to pay tribute to him.

His sister Diana Emsden said: “He was a true countryman who loved the moors, his dogs and his books. He loved walking on the fells in Lancashire and Cumbria.”

David Astley Hosier Grayling was brought up in Barnacre with Bonds, near Garstang with his older brother and sister, attending Red House prep school in Yorkshire and St Edward’s school, Oxford, before later studying at Harper Adams agricultural college following national service in the army. He was the grandson of Henry Astley-Bell, Guild Mayor of Preston in 1922 and his parents were Colin and Enid Grayling.

After college he worked in agricultural sales and following redundancy from BOCM (British Oil and Cake Mills) in 1971 he decided to turn his interest in books into a business

Specialising in sporting and country books Grayling Books soon moved from Lancashire to Crosby Ravensworth in what David continued to call Westmorland and then to the brass-plated Shap premises of David A. H. Grayling Rare and Fine Sporting Books.

Creating catalogues, valuation and stocking of libraries, attending game and book fairs, giving insurance advice, personal purchase of sporting books and complete collections were all part and parcel of a well establishedrural enterprise.

David never stopped sending out his quarterly catalogues to his distinguished customer list but he also sold via the internet.Throughout his life contributed to a variety of conservation and local groups, ranging from the village show committee to red squirrel preservation and running the beagle section of the world-renowned Vale of Rydal Sheepdog Trials and Hound Show.

His p.a. Georgina Perkins recalled: “The success and joy of the business was David’s love of books and a the relationships he built with some of the extraordinary characters he met through his books - for example the Australian outback-dweller who once or twice a year would get to a post office, pick up a book catalogue and request a parcel to collect the following year. “The name Grayling was synonymous with fine sporting and natural history titles, and with a personal service second to none."

David was a former Master of the now Cumbria based Bleasdale Beagles, formerly called Oakenclough Beagles, which was set up locally by his father and two other enthusiasts.He was also a former Joint Master of the Cumbria Beagles and a keen fisherman.

David had Parkinson’s disease and had spent the last four years living with Diana at her home near Cambridge, before moving to a care home six month ago.

Donations in memory of David may be made to the Countryside Restoration Trust via Funeral Director Jeremy Rule of Royston on 01763 242560.