Members of the FSMAG Committee celebrating the purchase of the Gold Angel.


Visit to Ashmolean Museum


A long journey, but well worth it.




FSMAG Summer Party.

This was held in the Orangery at Attingham Park. It is not open to the public but the use of it was arranged by one of our committee, John, who volunteers at Attingham. The staff at Attingham very kindly made no charge for the use the 18th century immensely high ceilinged room. We are very grateful to John  and Attingham for arranging this.

After several lovely sunny days the weather let us down, some of those arriving early to prepare were trapped in their cars until the downpour stopped!  However as the evening progressed the rain eased and the sky lightened.

Despite the grey skies outside with the room dressed with coloured table cloths and flowers the superb building with it very long windows looked bright and welcoming as the guests arrived. Soon the buzz of conversations rose and the period music playing quietly in the background was  drowned out.

Attingham had requested that no red wine or food that could stain the flagged floor were served but everyone enjoyed the light summer white wine and a white wine sangria.  The canapé provided by committee members, or their spouses,  were much enjoyed.

At the end of the allotted time people were reluctant to leave and many said how much they enjoyed the evening. Several have contacted the Friends committee to say thank you for a very lovely evening.



The eastern colonnade at Attingham leads to the orangery, designed in the late 18th century for overwintering citrus bushes and trees. This beautiful room has large windows facing south and originally was paved with large sandstone flags from rock quarried at Grinshill. As well as an orangery, this space has been used as a store, a cinema for estate workers and accommodation for the warden when the hall was a further education college in the middle of the 20th century. At that time a concrete screed was laid and a false floor added.

In the 1980s the National Trust decided to renovate this room so that it could be used for events. The false floor and concrete screed were removed to reveal the damaged flagged floor beneath. Some flags could be repaired, but about twenty needed to be replaced. Luckily the Grinshill Quarry is still open and undertook to quarry and cut the necessary flags, which weighed up to 200Kg each.

Beneath the room is a brick vault and originally this was overlain with sand. When the new flags were inserted a lime mortar was used instead.  This proved to be a good matrix for levelling the stones as they were tapped into place, with only 2mm allowed for joints.

The whole project was filmed and it can be viewed on YouTube, including the quarrying and cutting of the stone at Grinshill. Shrewsbury has many Grinshill stone buildings and we are fortunate to have a working quarry close at hand so that stone can be provided for repairs. This is, of course, an expensive business and the National Trust is intent on keeping the floor in good condition.

Search for “From Quarry to Orangery; repairs to the historic floor at Attingham Park”.



Visit to the Hurd Library and Hartlebury Castle





The Open Art competition/exhibition

The last day of the exhibition was Wednesday 23rd February and the winning entries are below


First prize –

“Pro patria mori” by Diane Purser


ist small


Second and Peoples Prize winner  –

“In their eyes shall shine the holy glimmer of goodbyes” by Andrew Sylvester

2nd+ ppsmall








Visit to Pitchford Hall

We passed a very enjoyable afternoon at Pitchford Hall, made very welcome by Rowena Colthurst and her husband James Nason and their young family. The 35 of us were divided into five smaller groups each with a guide. Our time was spent partly in the garden, partly in the semi-restored house.

Pitchford (3)

The estate was acquired in 1473 by Thomas Ottley, a Shrewsbury merchant who probably built the west wing as a three-bay hall. It was extended into a full E-plan building in the 16th century. John Sandford of Shrewsbury, with his distinctive style, was responsible for this massive extension during the 1550s and 60s.

The hall and garden are currently being restored by Rowena and James. Rowena is a direct descendant of Thomas Ottley and the hall has been in the family for more than five centuries, except for the 24 years from 1992, when it was in the hands of a Qatari Princess.


Pitchford (5)

The Pitch Pit and Ford

Pitchford (1)
Pitchford (4)


The name Pitchford comes from the bitumen or pitch well in the grounds of the hall which is near to a ford across the Row Brook. We examined the well and observed the old drive leading to the south frontage of the house. We visited the stables, the pigeon house, the orangery and the tree house in an ancient lime tree, where Princess (later Queen) Victoria sat to admire the view and listen to a harp. Many of us also visited the church of St Michael and All Angels in the grounds of the Hall.


Pitchford (2)

The oldest tree house in the world?



Visit to Waddesdon Manor including the Silver Caesars exhibition

Waddesdon Exterior

FSMAG Waddesden (3)

FSMAG Waddesdon (5)


FSMAG Waddesdon (1)

FSMAG Waddesden (3)


FSMAG Waddesden (6)

FSMAG Waddesden (1)









Visit to Brampton Bryan Hall,  home of the Harley family for over 700 years

Combined with Friends of  Ludlow Assembly Rooms a group of over 50 of us visited Brampton Bryan Hall. Finding the Hall was easy once you realised that the hedge you were instructed to follow was not just on ordinary one!

We were first given a very warm and informative welcome by Edward and Victoria Harley whose family married into the Brampton family in 1309 and has lived in the house ever since!

This was followed by a tour of the house, led by either Edward or Victoria, with an amazing amount of family, historical and architectural information to hear about and see, including a ruined castle in the grounds.

After this we were all treated to a delicious tea of sandwiches, sausages, cake and scones in the Old Dairy building before dispersing  home.

Edward and Victoria made the visit tremendously interesting and have very generously donated the entire proceeds to Brampton Bryan church restoration.

A very successful and enjoyable visit.

B Bryan P (8)

The imposing entrance portico, with Edward Harley centre


Powys look to your laurels (or should I say yews)