My experience of Pitchford only goes back to 1955, when as a student I drove over from Oxford, and saw my Father’s family home for the very first time across the small park, absolutely magical. My purpose is to share that with you. After that first visit I got to know Pitchford well, and always as a guest. The latest family owners, James Nason and Rowena Colthurst, are restoring the house specifically for guests. That indeed has always been the main purpose of families who built country houses – so that they could entertain guests..
All the more so in holy places, Pitchford among them. Because yes, it is a house but more than a house, a holy place. Where ever you get spring water, a hill above, and water below, people have gathered to fill their buckets and bowls and jugs – because there wasn’t good clean water anywhere else. Pitchford is just below the parish church of St Michael and All Angels, and water from the lake filled by springs, flows down into the small river below. Pagan carving is built into the church. And ancient holy places are often dedicated to St Michael, think of St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, and Mont St Michel in France.
Below the house too is the Pitch Well, where a creosote like substance oozes up from below, into a small muddy pond.
James and Rowena trace ownership of Pitchford right back to the Ottleys who built the Hall in the 16th century, This continuity of human experience is very rare in the modern world, and it is something all who come to Pitchford are invited to step into, as guests. At Pitchford we step right out the hassle of daily life, and experience continuity with the past. With all our own different family pasts, whether rich or poor, whether servants, employers, or employees, in industry, on the land, in the city, in government service. People from every category we can imagine have lived and loved and worked and died here, in these walls, by this church between lake and river and well.
You are invited to meet the people who lived at Pitchford and left their mark here. Ottleys, Shrewsbury merchants, who built it, as they established themselves as a county family.
Earl of Liverpool, brother of the Prime Minister during the Napoleonic wars, who doubled the size of the house - the West Wing. Guests included the young Princess Victoria and her mother the Duchess of Kent. Cotes family, long established at Woodcote, not far away.
The Grant family, General Sir Charles Grant, the perfect gentleman and his wife Lady Sybil, colourful daughter of 5th Earl of Rosebery and his wife Hannah Rothschild. Pitchford was designated as a refuge for the Royal Family if the country was invaded during world war 2. Their son, my father Robin Grant, whom they disinherited, but got the house back. Robin, a fast car enthusiast, and his wife Barbara, were highly hospitable; she was Rowena’s grand-mother. People say they can smell Robin’s cigar smoke in the passages. Rev Antony Grant