Newsletter – March 2008

March 5th, 2008 by JCope

Joan Ryder opened the Society’s 4th March meeting by reminding everyone of the April outing and the forthcoming ramble.  She then introduced Mike Miles who was to talk on Graham Baron Ash – his life and the restoration of Packwood House.

Mike began his fascinating talk by explaining how Baron’s grandfather had started the family business and how his father, Alfred, had made a fortune in galvanising.  Baron persuaded his father to buy Packwood at auction in 1904 and for £4500 he acquired the house and 103 acres.  In 1914 Baron joined the Red Cross and in 1917 the RFC.  Alfred Ash died in 1925 and Baron then set about removing Packwood’s Georgian and Victorian alterations: he added the long gallery and transformed a barn into a magnificent Tudor hall, using materials rescued from other houses.  Mike illustrated his talk with photographs, including the gardens and Queen Mary’s visit of 1927.  Baron’s year as High Sheriff of Warwickshire in 1938 was to be his high spot: in 1939 he joined the RAF and in 1940 the gardens were turned over to growing vegetables.  He gave the house to the National Trust in 1941.  Meanwhile, Baron had moved to East Anglia, where he continued to make substantial donations to local organisations.  He never married and died in 1980, being buried in the churchyard adjacent to Packwood.

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