I made an interesting discovery yesterday that relates to my previous blog post about W.G. Grace in Ashley Down in Bristol.
During the 1890s Grace lived in a large house just off Ashley Down Road, called Ashley Grange. From early maps it looks as though the house was previously Ashley Farm.
The house was demolished in 1936, but the map below shows where it was when Grace lived there.
One of the sources of information for my previous blog post was a book called W.G. Grace – In The Steps Of A Legend by Anthony Meredith. A line from the book about Ashley Grange seemed to throw down a challenge:
“A local historian has written of one small relic, the name of the house ‘on a block of stone near the base of a silver birch tree’, but, if it still survives, it frustratingly eluded us.”
Where was this block of stone?
I thought I’d seen a silver birch in the grounds of Ashley House, which still stands and is now used as a school. But I couldn’t find any trace of the stone there. I searched around the garages that now stand where Ashley Grange once stood. Still no sign of the elusive stone.
Then yesterday I was walking down a lane on the other side of Ashley Down Road, when I noticed a large block of stone, newly revealed by some enthusiastic cutting back of the undergrowth.
There seemed to be some writing on it. I wonder…
So I hopped up onto the wall to take a closer look…
And there it was. Fading letters spelling the name of Grace’s house, ASHLEY GRANGE. The last remaining connection between the great man and Ashley Down, gathering moss in a local garden.
I wonder what will happen to the stone. It seems a bit sad to let it lie there. 500 metres from its original site and 500 metres in the other direction to the County Ground, home to Gloucestershire Cricket and spiritual home of WG Grace.
Maybe Gloucestershire CCC could move it inside the County Ground to preserve the link with the club’s founding father?