Shropshire, Staffs Event - June 22



On Wednesday 22nd June, twelve Guild members from Shropshire, Staffordshire and further afield visited The Dorothy Clive Garden at Willoughbridge, which is located in the woodland quarter of Staffordshire and close to the borders of Shropshire and Cheshire.  The previous day sixteen of us were scheduled to meet but the effects of Covid and family issues meant that the numbers fell.

It was a glorious sunny day and upon arrival we met at the tearoom and enjoyed coffee together sitting outside in the sunshine. We then met Zdenek Valkoun, the Head Gardener, who gave us a fascinating tour of the gardens, telling us the names of plants and explaining the planting, the colours chosen and the reasons for planting and changing the plants which was so interesting. He was so articulate and easy to listen to. After the tour we enjoyed a lively and delicious lunch in the tearoom and then wandered through the gardens again before leaving for home.  It was a super day and we learnt so much from Zdenek.

Just after I had arranged the visit Jean Livingston (Ramage, 1948-1954, St Austin’s) told me that Dorothy Clive had gone to CLC. 

We contacted the College Archivist and Rachel tells us that Dorothy Clive was admitted to College in September 1897, aged 14 years and 8 months, after an education with a German governess. She was placed in Class II 4 and boarded with Mrs Walter at Farnley Lodge. Her mother, Mrs Clive, lived at Wootton, Berkswell, near Coventry. In September 1898 she moved into Class II 3A and probably left College in July 1899. The College magazines have been checked there is only one reference to her in 1899, 39 p.62 when as a boarder at Farnley Lodge, she submitted a cushion and photo frame to the Hand-Work Exhibition. There are no references to her passing exams or participating in any sports and, unfortunately, there are no photographs of her either.

Dorothy Clive’s son Harry wrote a reminiscence, “Hello Dolly”, of his Mother and we learn that Dolly grew up to be an athlete.  She was a competent horsewoman, a more than competent golfer with a handicap of two, representing Warwickshire.  Dolly was also one of the earliest car drivers.

Sadly, Dolly was struck by Parkinson’s Disease and this was the reason that her husband Colonel Harry Clive extended the garden, into the old quarry, so that she had a series of interesting walks, walking having been recommended by her doctor.  Although Dolly died in 1942, Colonel Harry Clive continued to extend the garden in the 1940’s and 1950’s and in 1958, Colonel Harry Clive entrusted the management of the garden to a small independent charity, The Willoughbridge Garden Trust.

The garden is stunningly beautiful and clearly is of interest year-round and well worth a visit.

Elizabeth Birch (1968-1975, Glenlee/Fauconberg)
Shropshire, Staffordshire Area Rep