Our September lecture was a double header, both halves delivered by Chris Hobson. In the first part of the evening we looked at Fairford Park, the fine house built by Valentine Strong in the mid 17th century. We were given the context of who had been lords of the manor and how the office came into the hands of Andrew Barker. We also had the valuable context of other buildings by the same architect. Fairford Park evolved with time with notable changes made by Sir John Soane. The last part of the talk was the sorry tale of the demolition of the great house. Like other fine houses that disappeared in the 1950s a combination of war-time damage, economic change, the limits on National Trust funding all contributed to decisions owners had to make on the survival of their property. There were some vivid photographs of the dismantling and destruction of Fairford Park. But there were also illustration of the survival of some items from the estate such as the orangery now to be found in Yorkshire.
After a pause for coffee and chat we reassembled for a session on the Tame family. Chris has been working on a book about the Tames. In the course of his remarkably thorough researches he has uncovered many new facts. Most notably the phrase in Leland asserting the Tames came out of the house of Stowell was shown to be a confusion and that John Tame’s forbears had actually lived in Fairford. Most helpfully Chris had been able to frame a family tree of the Tames. We were given a portrait of an upwardly mobile family living against the background of Tudor England with all its glories and uncertainties. Clearly the Tames made themselves useful to the powerful men of the period, having enough money to lend to the mighty and reap the rewards. We intend to publish the results of Chris’s labours.