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Real epic love story - the impoverished Welsh farmer and the privileged Dutch beauty

Fields of Orange is the story of an unlikely but epic relationship. A relationship which had no right to even exist in the first place - let alone to develop into a love affair for the ages and a devoted marriage.

Born in 1936, Johanna ‘Hanny’ Dooyeweerd was a beautiful Dutch girl born into privilege. Her late father, Herman Dooyeweerd, is still considered one of Europe’s foremost philosophers. The large family lived in splendour in a six-storey house in Amsterdam.

The family lived through Holland’s oppressive occupation by the Nazis, including the savage Hunger Winter (1944-45). The family took incredible risks to support the Dutch resistance and hide Jewish friends from the Gestapo.

However, this is not the most remarkable part of the story. By outrageous fortune, and a serendipitous meeting while visiting her sister in south Wales, Hanny met Robert Francis, an impoverished farmer from Monmouthshire. Robert lived in a tumbledown farm building which lacked even curtains. Within hours of meeting, they fell in love and within days, to the utter consternation of her family, they became engaged.

Following a high-profile society wedding in Amsterdam, Hanny and Bob settled down in Wales. Despite the fact that Hanny was terrified of animals, the couple were determined to try to make a success of farming and eventually family life. 

It was never easy; life remained a battle against the elements and fortune. However it was all underpinned by graft, humour and the unbreakable bond which became stronger as decades passed, and tided them through adversities and hardships.

In private over the years, and unknown to her family, Hanny wrote about her life. She passed away in 2021, but not before she had completed her remarkable story – Fields of Orange.