In 1963 the British Establishment was rocked by the Profumo Affair.
Britain’s Secretary of State for War John Profumo resigned following the affair with 21 year Old Christine Keeler – and it led to the fall of the Conservative McMillan government.
Of course it was a national scandal but it caused controversy in Shrewsbury too.
In October 1962 Mr Profumo came to Shrewsbury and laid the foundation stone for the new Territorial Army barracks on Sundorne Road. The new building cost £150,000.
At the time rumours about Keeler and Profumo were only just starting to emerge in the gossip columns of some newspapers.
The affair had actually happened in July 1961 – some saying it only lasted a few weeks, others say until December.
The full scandal came to light in 1963 and profumo resigned in October that year.
But in August there was debate over what to do with the foundations stone at the new barracks in Sundorne. His full name had been inscribed on it.
” This stone was laid by the Secretary of State for War, the Rt. Hon. John Profumo, O.B.E., M.P., 19th October 1962″
The headline in the Birmingham Daily – “NAME THAT MAY BE EXPUNGED”
Some thought it would be a good idea to recast the stone and remove his name.
The association’s vice chairman, Lt.-Col. Guy Thorneycroft, said: ” The matter has not yet come before the General Purposes Committee, but it could be on the agenda for the next meeting. Some may think It would be a happier way to leave the name out of the inscription. Personally. I have no view one way or the other.”
The meeting was held in October and by unanimous decision it was decided that the name should remain.
So what happened to the foundation stone that bares John Profumo’s name? In short – I don’t know but I’d love to.
The building was demolished in 2015 as recorded in the Shropshire Star to make way for a care home.
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So far I have found no record of Christine Keeler having visited Shropshire.
There is a story that during their affair they stayed at a cottage in the grounds of Hawkstone Hall – this was suggested in the sales literature (Hawkstone Hall for Sale) when the Hall when it was sold a number of years ago.
By the time of the affair in 1961, the hall was a Roman Catholic religious retreat – so cottages being rented or loaned for illicit affairs seems unlikely. Although stranger things have happened.