Programme of Visits 2017 – 2018
Thursday September 14th 2017: Baddesley Clinton and Packwood House (Warwickshire)
The site of Baddesley Clinton was settled in Saxon times and it has progressed from a remote medieval moated manor house in the heart of the forest of Arden to a fine Georgian gentleman’s house and a secret Roman Catholic sanctuary before finally falling into disrepair. The visitor approaches over the Queen Anne brick bridge where a perfect moated medieval manor house comes into view. The entrance is through a 15th century gatehouse. The exterior of the house however has received numerous alterations and additions at different periods of its history. This was the home of the Ferrers family for five hundred years over twelve generations, until it was handed over to the National Trust in 1980. The house is set in parkland with a lakeside walk, stew ponds, a wild flower meadow and a walled garden. In September the vibrant colours of the dahlia border should be at their best.
The name Packwood possibly derives from the Saxon’ Pacca’s Wood’ which first appears in documents in 1190.The land belonged to Benedictine monks from Coventry until Henry VIII’s programme of Dissolution, after which it changed hands many times. It was bought by John Fetherston in 1598 and was known after that as Fetherston House. John Fetherston went on to build the heart of the present house and his sons added extensions and improvements. The Fetherstons planted the first yew trees, for which Packwood is now famous, in the period following the Restoration. From 1851 the house was in the hands of tenants and was eventually sold because of financial problems. The house was neglected until its purchase in 1905 by a Birmingham metal industrialist, Alfred Ash. His son Graham Baron Ash wanted to restore the original character of the house and planned to create his ideal of a Tudor house. So he embarked on a programme of remodelling Packwood, removing all the additions and reconstructing the interior. At the end of the Second World War Graham Baron Ash presented his fulfilled dream to the National Trust.
Packwood is well known for its beautiful gardens. They are Jacobean in layout, with a Fountain Court, a sunken garden and a wilderness beyond. Above all it is known for its yew trees, which Simon Jenkins describes as ‘a horticultural Karnak’, comparing them to the columns of the Egyptian temple. They are called the Sermon on the Mount, like listeners paying attention to the preacher, as they rise up to the distant mound where a single mighty yew tree stands.
Priority booking is given to members of the Friends of Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, but non-members are welcome if there are spare places. The costs of the visits reflect the travel distance, entrance fees and your choice of refreshments. The Visits’ programme is self-financing and does not impinge on the Friends’ financial support of the Museum and Art Gallery.
For more information please contact Margaret Thorpe, Vice-Chair and Visit Organiser:
By email at: FriendsSMAG@gmail.com
By mail at: FSMAG, c/o Visitor Information Centre, The Music Hall, The Square, Shrewsbury, SY1 1LH
Archive of past visits
June 2017: Aberystwyth and The National Library of Wales
November 2016: Worcester Cathedral and two Georgian churches.
September 2016: Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire.
May 2016: Coughton Court, Warwickshire.
November 2015: Tewkesbury Abbey and two Norman churches.