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Irene Prestwich

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This week's 'Footprint on the Ridge' relates to Irene Prestwich who lived at Tirley Garth on the Cheshire Sandstone Ridge. Tirley Garth is recognised as a high status residence on the Ridge and receives mention in LCT2 (Landscape Character Type 2, Cheshire Sandstone Ridge).

Irene was born in 1884 and moved to Tirley Garth with her family shortly before The Great War. In fact, three Belgian officers, having escaped to Britain, were housed at Tirley Garth. Irene's father also provided them with clothes and they became firm family friends.

In 1970 Irene wrote her Memoirs which documented her life as a daughter of a local industrialist and her commitment to the Moral Re-Armament (MRA) movement; turning her home (Tirley Garth) into a Convention Centre.

Tirley Garth, an imposing Edwardian house built in 1911, became home of the Moral Rearmament Movement started by American educationalist Dr. Frank Buchan in the 1920s under the original name of the Oxford Group; an international organisation for the reformation of character of Christian principles.

Tirley Garth attracted individuals from all walks of life and from many overseas countries who came to talk, to discuss and to take up the absolute standards that she found through MRA.

The grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, for example, was a visitor and leading political figures from many emergent nations also called. Groups who had been sworn enemies in their own countries found peace and friendship and a will to work together after staying at Tirley Garth.

Trade unionists and management sat down together at weekend conferences and civic leaders joined in pledging themselves to working for the betterment of all. Delegations went to Northern Ireland, South Africa and other countries (where bitterness and strife had caused deep divisions among people) to give the message that Miss Prestwich had herself found in the 1930s.

Irene Prestwich was a tiny and delicate woman, of immense charm and engaging courtesy. Yet deep inside was a giant with steel-like convictions and a determination and desire to help others that brought her wealth and home into full play in the greater nature of life itself.

CLICK HERE to read Irene's full Memoir and which contains some excellent photographs of Tirley Garth on the Cheshire Sandstone Ridge.

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