The Friends first visit in 2023 was to the wine merchants, Tanners, in Wyle Cop, Shrewsbury. We were taken for a tour of the cellars and back-room offices of the ancient buildings and shown many pieces of equipment and storage used over the preceding 3 centuries.
We were welcomed by staff with a glass of champagne and the three leaders Alix, Jo and Howard guided us through the labyrinth of cellars and spoke of the company’s development.
The building itself was fascinating with evidence of 15th century beams which themselves would have been ancient when first put in place. On some beams were carpenters marks and even ‘witches marks’ apparently burned in place centuries ago. Many thanks to Tanners and their staff for a truly interesting and eye-opening visit.
We were delighted to welcome Thomas, second Lord Berwick of Attingham, to Shropshire Archives to tell us about his ancestors, his life – and his descendants! Martin Jones took on the persona and regaled us with ‘tales and travails’ of his family and the history of Attingham Park. Facts, interpretations and stories were imparted with flair and humour giving us a very entertaining and enjoyable event.
Our visit to Acton Scott Hall was enthusiastically guided by our hosts, Francis and Alison Acton who each took three groups of us in turn round different parts of the interesting house which dates back to the late 16th Century. Friend and volunteer Tam guided us round the grounds where we were grateful for the shade of the trees on one of the hottest days of August! The walk included a wander through the rock garden created in the old quarry. Edward Acton Scott, son of the family, served a very welcome tea.
Our first Summer outing this year, 20 July 22, was to Acton Reynald Hall. This was originally a 17th century country house, which was part of the Corbet Estate. In the early 1800’s major alterations to the house were completed for the Corbet family in the Neo-Jacobean style. It became a School for Girls in 1919 until 1995 and is now a private home, which is not open to the general public. The Friends of Shropshire Archives were privileged to be guided by Chris Mackley the owner of this fantastic Grade II* listed building.
After a very interesting tour of both the outside and interior of the house, during which many points of interest were described, we were treated to afternoon tea prepared and served by the lady of the house, Judith Mackley, and committee member Vicky Embrey and her mother. During tea our host described to us some of the history of the house. Overall, a really fascinating tour and we are very grateful to the Mackleys for opening their home to us.
Following the Friends’ AGM at the Priory Hall, we split into two groups. The first was led by local historian Sue O’Dowd who took us on a walking tour of Much Wenlock’s nine former farms and shared her extensive knowledge of some of the town’s other fine buildings. Sue used the 1940s National Farm Survey to reveal the extent of farming and livestock husbandry being practised there during the War, and showed us photographs of some of the farm buildings, many now repurposed. We were also privileged to have access to the Guildhall by the kind permission of custodian Richard who gave us an overview of its history.
Another group of Friends was treated to a fascinating tour of the private house Wenlock Abbey gaining an insight into its restoration and the artistic life of Louis de Wet (1930-2018), whose vision for the house is evident in every room. The tour was an amazing mixture of medieval art and architecture, and de Wet’s own artwork including his studio. Gabrielle and Vivien provided a huge amount of information during the tour, combining both historical and personal insights. The tour concluded with excellent tea and cake, and we all left with much to digest and process.
Chair: Jill Ming Vice-Chair Ruth Campbell Secretary: Sue Cleaves Treasurer: Sheila Black Deputy Treasurer: Mary McKenzie Salopian Recorder Editor: Andrew Pattison Hugh Battersby Vicky Embrey Alison Healey John Ravenscroft
Paul Quartermaine (representing Shropshire Family History Society) Penny Ward (representing Victoria County History Shropshire) Sarah Davis, Shropshire Archives
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