Society Visit to Beaudesert

The Society's visit to Beaudesert, arranged at short notice by our programme secretary Brian Smith on 28th June, was a great success. We were welcomed at the Scout and Guide Camp by Mrs Mary Mayo, Secretary of the Beaudesert Trust, who introduced our guide, Mr Bernard Richards, who as a boy had lived in one of the lodges. There was a time when one could leave Castle Ring and, wandering in a northerly direction, stray into the site from the Forestry Commission plantation. The contrast between the regimented ranks of conifers and nature's own indisciplined recapture of what had been a carefully ordered estate was always striking. Although now fenced, the wild growth continues but one still sees some surviving Rhododendron among the fallen masonry which, in the warmth of a humid summer evening, conjures up visions of the days of the Raj when "the Colonel's Lady and June O'Grady" were "sisters under their skins".

The owners and visitors to Beaudesert thread a human chain through history from 1189, when Richard I sold Cannock Forest to finance the Third Crusade, until 1920 when the Marquess of Anglesey went to live at Plas Newydd. The Hall had been built, restored and extended many times until, by the time of the 1932 sale, it contained a Gothic Banqueting Hall 65 ft long, in addition to a 42 by 28 ft Dining Room, the State Bedroom 32 by 22 ft and a Study of the same size. After conducting us past the site of the former stables and coach houses Bernard was able to point out among the undergrowth the position of that Study. Little is now left, as demolition began after the sale of contents. The staircase, panelling and fireplaces were taken to Adelaide in Australia where they are now part of a Tudor style mansion that has been bequeathed to the State of South Australia.

This is a visit which we should repeat at some future date when more members would be able to attend.

Ivor Mitchell
June 1994