The survival instinct is keen

Her Majesty acceded to the throne sixty years ago, so a business operating since the thirty-third year of her reign has had a good quarter-century run and then some.

Wait, what? It was the 33rd year of the reign of Elizabeth I? Yes indeed:

R Durtnell & Sons Limited is Britain’s oldest building company and has earned an enviable reputation for quality work, fine craftsmanship and business integrity. As a family, the Durtnells themselves are no less remarkable and can trace their ancestry back to the Norman Conquest.

The first recorded mention of building, as opposed to property, in the family — and hence the year from which Durtnell dates its existence — is 22 July 1591, when John Dartnall married Ann Hearst, registering his profession as ‘carpenter’, synonymous with ‘builder’ at a time when most houses were of timber-framed construction.

Durtnell have operated continuously from offices in Brasted, Westerham, Kent since 1591, easily qualifying them for Britain’s Tercentarian Club. Says Lynn Durtnell today:

[S]he knew what she was taking on when she married John, but casts a protective eye at her son Alexander, in his early thirties, who has partly taken over the day-to-day running of the company. “There is enormous pressure on the children at these companies,” she says. “They don’t want to be the generation that mucks it up.”

In the case of young Alexander, the thirteenth generation.

(Suggested by Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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