AN actress who used to entertain stars of the screen at her home in the district died suddenly last week.

Patricia Watling, who died aged 92 of kidney failure, appeared in films and plays on Broadway before giving up acting in favour of raising her family and entertaining guests at her home, Alderton Hall in Alderton Hill, Loughton.

Her son, Giles Watling, 58, said: “It's the end of an era. During my childhood, on a Sunday during summer, we could have 20 or 30 people for lunch. I used to think it was normal, but it was extraordinary.

“Sean Connery might be there and Patrick McGoohan (star of 1960s series The Prisoner) might be around the corner.

“Many people turned up over the years and they were friends of the family.”

During her career, she appeared in The Dark Road, which was first screened in 1948, a film version of A Midsummer Night's Dream and the Broadway show Edward My Son, which was her last job as an actress.

Mr Watling, who is an actor and has appeared in the TV drama Upstairs Downstairs, encouraged his mother to take to the stage again in 1977 for a production by the family's theatre company, Frinton Summer Theatre, but she vowed never to do it again.

“She was terrified,” said Mr Watling. “She hadn't done it for so long and we as a family said give it a go. She didn't like it much, but I don't think the audience would have noticed.”

Mrs Watling was the daughter of greengrocer William Hicks, who had a shop in Epping High Street, opposite what used to be the Cock inn.

She grew up in Kendal Avenue, Epping, and attended Loughton School for Girls and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in central London, graduating during the Second World War.

She married a bomber pilot, Rhys Jones, who was killed in a crash as his Lancaster took off in 1943.

Shortly after marrying her second husband, Jack Watling, her first son, Adam, was killed by a snow drift sliding off the roof of their first house in Epping.

Her first daughter, Dilys, who is now a dancer, was born in 1947 and Mrs Watling decided to give up acting and concentrate on raising her family.

She also ran a shop, the Pink Clock fashion boutique, on Queen's Road, Buckhurst Hill, during the 1960s.

She leaves two other children, Debbie Watling, an actress, and Nicky Matthews, a sculptor and playwright.