The younger son of the sixth Earl of Rosse, and half-brother of Lord Snowdon, Martin began his working life with a mining company in Australia and subsequently with Qantas. He returned to the UK in the mid-1970s with his wife, Aline, and their two sons, Rupert and Richard. Their home was Womersley Hall in North Yorkshire, an Elizabethan residence where the Parsons family lived for generations.
Martin and Aline founded Womersley Foods in 1979, when they first began to create their famous range of fruit and herb vinegars and jellies. Using fresh fruit and herbs from their own walled garden, they revived the production of traditional British condiments that had not been widely available or used for many years. At a time when no other company was doing anything quite like it, Womersley Foods blazed a trail that other companies have since attempted to follow, but never quite matched.
Martin’s instinctive abilities and expert horticultural knowledge combined into a skill which allowed him to blend herbs and fruits into the most sublime concoctions. Together, Aline and Martin built up a unique range of award-winning condiments which is now stocked in high-class food emporia such as Fortnum & Mason and used by countless top chefs. Takeover offers were made from time to time by larger companies, but Martin always resisted the temptation to sell out, preferring to keep control over the quality and manufacture of his beloved products.
A flamboyant, larger-than-life character, Martin’s natural exuberance and charm made a great impression on all those who came into contact with him. His (literally) colourful persona was matched by the intense passion and flavour he poured into all his culinary creations, and his last wish was that his passing should be marked by a “jolly good party”. He will be sorely missed by family, friends, colleagues and customers.
Womersley Foods was taken over in 2009 by Martin and Aline’s elder son, Rupert, who has continued his parents’ legacy by retaining their ethos and heritage, whilst taking the company forward.