Shropshire Star

Tributes to matriarch of Shropshire stately home

Tribute has been paid to the matriarch of a Shropshire stately home who has died, aged 87.


Elizabeth Parish, known to friends and family as Billa, lived at Walcot Hall in Lydbury North, near Bishop's Castle, today a prestigious hotel and wedding venue.

The great-granddaughter of the founder of Boots the Chemist, she lived at the hall from 1947 until about 12 years ago when she moved into the village, leaving Walcot in the hands of her son Robin.

She passed away at her home on April 28.

Daughter Emma Houston, who lives in Neen Sollars near Cleobury Mortimer, said: "My parents came to live in Lydbury North when my mother was 30, and she has lived there ever since.

"She was rather proud of being the oldest resident in the village. I know she would have been very happy to have died in her own home, peacefully in her sleep.

"She had suffered for many years from ill health but rarely complained, however much pain she was in. She was very stoical."

Mrs Parish leaves behind four children, Suzanne, Robin, Caroline and Emma as well as 14 grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.

She married Major Michael Parish in 1947, and not long after moved to Shropshire. The couple went to look at Walcot Hall when it was for sale and facing an uncertain future shortly after the war.

"They took one look and that was that," said Mrs Houston.

They started renting out holiday flats at the hall and in the stable yard, which developed into the business today, run by Robin and his wife Lucinda, as a wedding venue. Major Parish died in 1994.

Mrs Houston said: "My mother was a devoted wife, mother and granny. She felt that they were roles that are often under-valued today, but she did them to perfection and was very family orientated. She was always ready to help, running the house smoothly and with the door wide open.

"My parents were very hospitable and loved all our friends and wider family coming to stay.

"She loved Lydbury North and the Shropshire countryside.

"She was a proper country lady and in her younger years enjoyed hunting with the United Pack."

Mrs Parish was born Elizabeth Boot in Nottinghamshire in 1927, the youngest of four daughters of the second Lord Trent.

Mrs Houston said her mother was very proud of her family, past and present, including her Boots roots. She was one of the last people to remember her grandfather Jesse Boot, who left school aged 10 to work in his parent's little herbalist shop when his father died.

Jesse revolutionised retailing, taking on all the established firms of the day to fulfil his dream of bringing affordable medicine to the poor and eventually making it the most trusted name on the High Street.

Mrs Parish's funeral will be at St Michael and All Angel's, Lydbury North at 3pm on Tuesday, May 20. Bright colours and flowers have been requested. Donations are to Arthritis Research UK.

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