Decanter consultant editor Steven Spurrier remembers Daphne Broadbent, wife of veteran Decanter columnist Michael Broadbent, who has died aged 84.

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Daphne Broadbent died at home over the weekend, just two weeks after her 84th birthday.

Many Decanter readers might not have met Daphne, but will be familiar with her as a regular fixture in the articles of long-standing columnist Michael Broadbent, himself 88 and now retired. The two were married for 61 years.

From Michael’s early days at Christie’s, I seldom saw one without the other, for they were always together, totally complementary in their sense of humour, often shown by a harmonious bickering.

Daphne was critical of Michael, condemning his soft-spoken manner as the prime lecturer at the Christie’s Wine Course, which he and I founded in October 1982 and to which Daphne accompanied him as ‘note taker’ from then to our final appearance together in October 2012, as “mind over mutter.’

But then she was refreshingly critical of everybody, even her children Emma and Bartholomew, never allowing them to watch television as they were growing up. The forthrightness of her opinions was founded in intelligent observation and were expressed candidly to amuse rather than to harm.

She was also a great organiser not only of Michael’s life, but of that of others. In the mid-1980s, when I told her that my wife planned a move to the country and that I would have to find a flat in London, she immediately said ‘Dorset and Baron’s Court’ and that was precisely where we ended up.

At a large party at the Vintners’ Hall to celebrate Michael’s 80th birthday, Daphne considered lapel badges as unsuitable and solved the problem of many guests not knowing each other’s names by fixing the badges to their backs.

Decanter readers fortunate enough to meet Daphne Broadbent at tastings or book signings will know that she was a joy to be with. She will be very deeply missed.

Alongside Michael, Daphne Broadbent leaves behind her son, Bartholomew, who runs the Broadbent Selections wine import business in the US, and also her daughter Emma, a judge who is married to former Member of Parliament James Arbuthnot.

(Additional reporting by Chris Mercer)

 

 

  • Stephen Brook

    Very sad news, Daphne was irreverent and thus great fun, always up for a quick gossip or an impish putdown. I can only begin to imagine how much her family will miss her.

  • David S. Eley

    Very sad for Michael – Daphne was remarkable.

  • John Davis

    If ever there was someone who epitomised the “power behind the throne” it was Daphne. Always a steadying influence, and a perfect relaxing partner with whom to share that end-of-day glass. Michael, our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with you and your family.
    John Davis – proud to have warehoused Christies wines from when the Wine Department was reformed.