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Visit to Packwood House and Canons Ashby (8th October 2013)

On 8th October a party of Ross DFAS members visited Packwood House, near Warwick, and Canons Ashby in Northamptonshire, two unusual National Trust properties.

Packwood House originated as a Tudor farmhouse and was owned by the Fetherston family for over 300 years. Then, in the early 20th C. it was acquired by the Birmingham industrialist, Alfred Ash, and in 1925 inherited by his son, Graham Baron Ash. Graham spent the following two decades modernising and extending the property but carefully retaining its essentially Tudor character, adding 16th and 17th C. furniture and tapestries. We toured the living areas and the impressive Great Hall he created from a venerable farm barn and connected to the house with an authentic "Tudor" Long Gallery of 20th C. origin. Fascinating, as were the Yew gardens created in the 17th C. and now sympathetically maintained by the National Trust.

After lunch at nearby Baddesley Clinton, the coach moved on to Canons Ashby, still the home of the Dryden family after over 400 years - though ownership passed to the National Trust in 1981. Sir Henry Dryden inherited his ancestral home (and massive debts) in 1837 and set about restoring and modernising the house and making the 5,000 acre estate financially viable again. It has many fine features and is preserved in much the way he left it, a homely memorial to a talented historian and collector. Members appreciated the enthusiastic explanations of the room guides, and some additionally visited the family (and Parish) church in the grounds, the remaining part of the Priory which was there until the Reformation. The tea-room was especially popular after a busy day out in the autumn sunshine at two unique and history-rich properties.

Philip Blunden

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