YORK Minster will next week host the funeral of an eccentric peer who has died, aged 82.

Lord Bicester, who spent many years of his life in psychiatric hospitals, was known by many people in York for approaching them in pubs and trying to sell them his abstract drawings.

He also hit the headlines in the 1990s when he fought to resume his place in the House of Lords after 31 years in compulsory psychiatric care.

He took the matter to a tribunal hearing held at The Retreat, a private, Quaker-run psychiatric hospital in York where he lived for many years from 1988.

He won the tribunal but never got round to taking his seat in the Lords, said Countess Ilona Esterhazy, a close friend of many decades.

In 2001, he also became patron of theYork branch of the Monster Raving Loony Party , when he told The Press: "I don't you think you have to be a loony to join the party, just relaxed."

He also pledged to give financial support to the party's campaign by donating 50 of his pictures and drawings for the party to sell.

Born Angus Edward Vivian Smith, son of a Coldstream Guards colonel and a mother from New York, the peer was sectioned under the Mental Health Act at the age of 33.

He stayed for many years at the Retreat but lived in recent years in two nursing homes in the York area, Blair Atholl and Charles Court, said the Countess, who added that he died at York Hospital after suffering a fall while visiting the dentist.

She said he had been locked away in mental hospitals when he was young because his family had not been able to cope. "They used to lock such people up and throw away the keys in those days," she said. "It wouldn't happen like that nowadays.

"He was diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia but I don't think that was right. He was slightly manic at times but he was very kind and very caring, an intellectually very bright man, who was brilliant at maths."

She said people had reacted differently to being approached by him and being offered one of his drawings. "He had a booming voice and some felt they were being accosted and were afraid of him, and didn't like it, but others thought he was charming."

*Lord Bicester's funeral will be held at the Minster at 1.30 pm on Thursday.