International star of stage, screen and television, writer, director and raconteur George Baker has been laid to rest in the churchyard at West Lavington, the village he had made his home for the past 22 years.

Mr Baker died at the age of 80 at the BUPA nursing home in Market Lavington on October 7.

All Saints Church was full for his funeral service on Monday, led by the vicar, the Rev James Campbell.

There were representatives of the many areas of his life, including his last major role, that of Chief Inspector Reg Wexford in Ruth Rendell’s TV series.

Christopher Ravenscroft, who played his sidekick Inspector Burden, was among the congregation, while Neil Zeiger, who directed all the episodes, paid a warm and emotional tribute.

Mr Zeiger said: “George Baker had a heart the size of an ox and brought the troubles of others on his own shoulders.”

He remembered that, while working on the TV adaptation of Robert Graves’s I, Claudius, he threw a dinner party for all the members of the cast whose characters had been bumped off, mostly by the treacherous empress Livia, played by Sian Phillips.

Other famous faces in the congregation included actress Stephanie Cole, actor Simon Shepherd and TV and radio presenter Henry Kelly.

Mr Baker’s daughter Ellie spoke for the whole family in her tribute, in which she remembered the great bear of a man who was as much her friend as her father.

She recalled when Rod Stewart and Britt Ekland were divorced and Miss Ekland enjoyed a huge financial settlement, she came in to see her father counting the coins, the family’s holiday fund, saved in jars.

She said: “It took him hours. Finally, in a very satisfied voice he said, I can afford 12.5 per cent of Britt Ekland.”

Mr Baker worked almost as hard raising money for charity as he did as actor, director and author.

Martin O’Grady, his landlord at the Jolly Farmer Inn in Warsash, Hampshire, while he was filming Wexford, worked with him raising money to provide an MRI scanner at Southampton General Hospital.

He said: “His wife then, Sally Home, was suffering from cancer and had to go to Wimbledon for a scan. To provide one for Southampton would cost £1million.

“George said, right, that’s our target, and got right onto it.”

Mr Baker was made an MBE for creating West Lavington Youth Club.

Those who worked with him on the project were well represented in the congregation.

There was a retiring collection in aid of the youth club and the Royal Theatrical Fund.