Founders and Trustees

The foundation of the Trust on 3rd December 2004 Tessa Roynon Griselda Garner Richard Morris Patsy Roynon Alan Garner Elizabeth Garner


Founding Trustees

Garry Prior, Tessa Roynon, Michael Peach, Griselda Garner, Richard Morris
Elizabeth Garner


Alan Garner, Patsy Roynon

at the foundation of
The Blackden Trust - 3rd December 2004


Alan Garner has lived and worked in Toad Hall all his adult life. He is best known for his novels.  (Links to his websites: the 'unofficial' site, Curtis Brown, HarperCollins.)

Alan recalls: 

The back of Toad Hall

... the line of the roof appeared ...

There was a torn piece of hardboard lodged in the hedge. On it was daubed in whitewash: 17th. CENTURY COTTAGE FOR SALE. I opened the wicket gate and pushed my bicycle down the overgrown path, across the brook and up the field.

The line of the roof appeared and, with each step, the house stood up from the land. I began to shake. This was no seventeenth century cottage. I was looking at a timber-frame medieval hall. I lifted the doorknocker at 7.20. p.m., 19th. April 1957. Good Friday.

The price was £510, and I had 8s. 3d. and no prospects. I rode back to Alderley.

"And what's up with you, then'" said my father.

"I've seen the only place I can ever live."

"And where's that'"


Patsy Roynon is the daughter of the architect, John Stanley Beard, and has inherited his interest in buildings, and in particular, timber-frame houses. Now retired, she has been a teacher, a Brown Owl and a Justice of the Peace. In 1983 she safeguarded Alan Garner's occupation of Toad Hall, by becoming a joint owner of the whole property, and in 2007 she donated The Old Medicine House to The Blackden Trust.

Patsy recalls:

It was August 1981; we were visiting Griselda and Alan at Blackden. Griselda and I were sitting at her kitchen table late at night when she mentioned that she was hoping to get someone to buy into the Medicine House project, and that if she couldn't they would have to sell the whole site. I decided on impulse that I wanted to contribute, although I didn't say anything straight away. I rationalised the decision later on, and wrote a letter afterwards to offer help.

The Medicine House had bowled me over as a building - the chimney and the spiral staircase. Walking and smelling and feeling the house had got me hooked before Griselda and I ever held that conversation. This house had something different. Something coming through every pore of my skin. It was something about the smell of the Medicine House and the way the sun came in through those old mullioned windows.

I was aware that Alan could only write at Blackden. If he'd had to write in a little house on the edge of Macclesfield, he couldn't have written the books that he wanted to write. His was special and different writing - and it needed to be done in a special and a different place.



Professor Richard Morris (Chairman) is Professor of Conflict and Culture at the University of Huddersfield. During the 1990s he was Director of the Council for British Archaeology, having earlier worked as a university teacher and archaeological excavator.  His interests in aerial reconnaissance, aviation, settlement, religious and cultural history are reflected in publications that include his seminal book Churches in the Landscape.  From 2003-2010 he directed the Institute for Medieval Studies at the University of Leeds.

A former Trustee of the National Coal Mining Museum for England, he is today a Trustee of the York Archaeological Trust, the Landscape Research Centre, and the National Heritage Memorial Fund.  He is working on a new biography of Barnes Wallis, and a social history of 20th century Britain from the air.   (Link to his website)

Elizabeth Garner has worked in the film industry, initially as a reader, script editor and then as Head of Development for Gorgeous Enterprises. Her first novel, Nightdancing, won a Betty Trask Award in 2004; her second, The Ingenious Edgar Jones, was published in 2007.  (Link to her website)

Griselda Garner has spent most of her professional life in the classroom, teaching English and running school libraries. She devises and develops learning resources to encourage independent research. Since 2004, Griselda has been organising activities and developing educational programmes for The Blackden Trust.

Tessa Roynon has a PhD in American Literature from the University of Warwick.  She is a stipendiary lecturer in English at St Peter's College, University of Oxford, where she primarily teaches American literature.  She has also worked as both a secondary-level English teacher and a youth worker.  While volunteering for a London settlement she gained experience in voluntary sector fundraising and management.  

Malcolm Brown worked for seven years at Esso Petroleum before starting an eighteen year career with IBM as a manager in sales. He then formed his own consultancy in management and training for commercial companies which he ran for sixteen years and has recently taken retirement. In the Arts world, Malcolm has spent sixteen years working with various arts organisations including M6 Theatre, of which he was Chair, the Arts Council, and the Cheshire and Warrington Cultural Consortium, as Chair. He won several awards for his work including National Consultant of the Year for his work with M6. 

Retired trustees

Michael Peach and Garry Prior have retired as Trustees.

Printed on: 30 Sep 2020

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