THE talented and adventurous owner of one of the oldest 'real country inns' in England has died but has set a strong example for her family to follow.

Jean Clift, who helped lay the foundations of a successful family business at The Talbot Inn in Knightwick, west of Worcester, died at home on Wednesday at the age of 97.

Seven months older than the Queen, it is perhaps a measure of Mrs Clift's success that the inn, nestled by the banks of the River Teme, is still prospering and still owned by the family after 40 years.

Worcester News: TRADITION: Talbot Inn, Knightwick. Photo: James ConnellTRADITION: Talbot Inn, Knightwick. Photo: James Connell (Image: TRADITION: Talbot Inn, Knightwick. Photo: James Connell)

Her daughter Annie Clift, who was the primary carer for her mother, now runs the traditional inn, which has roots stretching back to the 15th century.

Her late mother was involved in the running of the inn until she could no longer get there from her home in Lulsley in 2020 due to poor mobility. 

Her family referred to the great-grandmother as the last of 'the Teme Valley Ladies', a group of strong local women who were very active in the community, describing her death as 'the end of an era'.

Worcester News: Talbot Inn, Knightwick. Photo: James ConnellTalbot Inn, Knightwick. Photo: James Connell (Image: Talbot Inn, Knightwick. Photo: James Connell)

She was involved in expanding and improving Teme Valley Market, held on the second Sunday of every month on the riverside beside the inn.

Worcester News: FAMILY: L-R: The late Jean Clift, her daughter Annie Clift and granddaughter Kate CliftFAMILY: L-R: The late Jean Clift, her daughter Annie Clift and granddaughter Kate Clift (Image: FAMILY: L-R: The late Jean Clift, her daughter Annie Clift and granddaughter Kate Clift)

Annie Clift said: "She set the standard. There are still aspects of the business we adhere to. She set an example for us to follow. She put the foundations down for a successful business."

She also spoke of the great rapport she had with her mother who was noted for her very dry sense of humour.

Known as 'Mrs C' and Flossie to very close family, her daughters and niece described her as entrepreneurial with a natural business acumen, musical, cultured and well-read with an extensive library and a passion for history, including church recording.

She was traditional in her manners with a taste for formality, preferring to be called Mrs Clift or 'Mrs C' rather than by her first name.

Her spirit of adventure meant she travelled on her own on the Trans-Siberian Railway at the age of 80

Born in Hull in Yorkshire, nee Hawkins, Mrs Clift came to Worcestershire with her parents at the age of 15 in 1940.

Her father, Eric, took on the tenancy of the Fox and Hounds in Lulsley.

She married John Francis Pope Clift, known as Jack, in 1950.

Son Philip Clift noticed the Talbot was on sale and the family bought it in 1983 following the death of Mrs Clift's youngest son, 'musical and artistic' William.

Wiz Clift, another of Mrs Clift's daughters, said: "It was devastating. She needed something that was really going to take her mind off that."

The district nurses who came to visit Mrs Clift 'adored her' said her niece, Kate Clift.

"She never complained. She was always thankful, always grateful for what they did for her," said Wiz Clift.  

The funeral service is to take place at the church in Leigh at 2pm on October 23 followed by the burial in Lulsley churchyard and the wake at the Talbot Inn.

All are welcome to attend but the family has asked people not to bring flowers.