Have you noticed this sign in our Orangery Restaurant? It is right by the door and you’ll probably see it on your way out of the main door.
But what is the story behind it? Who is this elusive lady, Joan Hill?
One of our team, Rebecca was intrigued and has been doing some digging with the help of volunteer Ted…
“…So who was Joan Hill? I’m sorry to disappoint you, but she was not related to Octavia, but that does not mean she is any less important. What was her connection to Charlecote?
When Joan passed away, she left her estate to Charlecote, and her connection to the property was that she was one of the earliest members of the Coventry Centre, which is an association consisting of National Trust members living in the Coventry area. They meet monthly for meetings, outings and for events to raise money to support properties belonging to the National Trust in the area.
But I still hear you asking why Charlecote? Why not Baddesley or Packwood which are closer to Coventry? Well Joan volunteered here for at least 30 years on and off.
During the 1960’s the Coventry Centre was asked if they could help with a few events by manning the Gatehouse and welcoming guests. You could say they were our first Welcome Host volunteers, which we have welcomed back this season.
This was not only Joan’s first time volunteering at Charlecote, but the beginning of our involvement with the Coventry Centre members as volunteers, many of whom who still volunteer here and are possibly reading this today!
But like many of our volunteers, Joan went above and beyond – she was the first of the Centre’s members to organise the rotas of those members who were giving up their time to volunteer at Charlecote. Joan continued doing this until 15 years ago in 1999, when it began being combined with the property rotas.
Unfortunately all we know about Joan’s personal life was that she had a brother, who died of a fever during the battle of El Alamain in 1942. After her parents’ death she became the sole heir of their estate and having no intimate family of her own she left the entire estate to Charlecote
So why is the plaque in the restaurant and not anywhere else?
We used the money Joan left to update the restaurant, to make it the much more functional space you see today.
I hope you will now feel you know a little bit more about an unknown name, to whom Charlecote owes many thanks and maybe you’ll make a little nod to the plaque next time you’re in the Orangery.”
Rebecca, Retail Assistant