A few comments from previous guests:
‘One of the most beautiful houses I have stayed in.’
‘I feel this weekend will prove to be a turning point . . .’
‘Beautiful venue and wonderful food.’
The house was once owned by William Provis (chief engineer to Thomas Telford) and parts of it date to pre-1800.The name ‘The Grange’ was normally applied to farms that served a local abbey or monastery (in this case it was probably Shrewsbury). When the Provis family owned the Grange it was a 100-acre farm. In the 1920s it was bought by the Needham family (who kindly provided some of the black and white photos you see here), and then, in 1976, Phyliss and Peter Hutton, Rose’s aunt and uncle, bought the house and turned it into a much loved country house hotel.
In 1986 Sheila and Alec Ward, Rose’s parents, were looking for somewhere to run retreats from (in their retirement) and were delighted to find that the Grange was on the market and, having bought it, set about establishing it as a retreat centre that would focus on women’s experiences in the second half of life. During their thirteen years at the Grange, Sheila and Alec made many improvements to the house and grounds including the planting of many trees, two of which were a Mothers for Peace tree and a Peace in Northern Ireland tree. Together, Alec and Sheila started annual weekends, still ongoing, and now aptly named ‘working weekends’, in which they invited friends and family to help work on the house and in the gardens. It was during one of these weekends that the labyrinth (a meditational walk) was created. Not only did they run courses for women, they hosted many other courses such as Mothers for Peace, the Creative Arts Retreat Movement (run by Canon Shells and his wife Ann), Yoga, Tai-Chi, Circle Dance, Meditation, Counselling training and Flower Painting. During their time at The Grange, Sheila started a Natural Therapy Centre in the old stable buildings where therapist Hilary Wells still works.
We - Rose and Jon - had enjoyed many weekends at the Grange whilst working in London and when, in 1995, we decided to move out of London, taking our newly formed publishing company, the Medlar Press, with us, we came up to Shropshire to live. Then, in early 2000, we bought the Grange from Sheila and Alec (when they retired for a second time) and have been here ever since. We continued to run our publishing company, as well as many of the residential courses that were already established, but over the years Jon began collecting old printing presses and, with the help of many people, the outbuildings were developed as a print shop and then a bindery; and as soon as we'd met the right people to be tutors, we were able to start offering courses in paper marbling, bookbinding and letterpress printing (as well as some associated skills like linocut printmaking and calligraphy).
The Grange is a lovely place to call home, and we have been very fortunate to have met many other people who also feel that it is an important place for them. Of course, its upkeep involves a huge amount of work but we've enjoyed bringing up our family here (now all grown up!) and continue to enjoy making improvements to the house and grounds to provide a comfortable and welcoming place for people to come and stay.
The earliest picture we have of the Grange, circa 1927
The stable yard in 1933
Sadly, Sheila died on 14th February 2015. Her book Towards Wisdom is still available. It describes some of her work in the field of women exploring the second half of life and her beliefs about love and its role in human evolution, as well as including a brief autobiography. The book is priced at £5 and can be ordered from the Grange. She also wrote a biography of Lucy Behenna, founder of Mothers for Peace, and that book is also available from the Grange for £5.