Swinfen Broun

Swinfen Broun Charitable Trust

Helping Organisations and Individuals in the City of Lichfield


Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Alexander Wilsone Swinfen Broun

Plaque Col. Swinfen Broun was born at Castle Wemyss, Renfrewshire, Scotland on 9th July, 1857. He was the second son of Charles Wilsone Broun and Annie Rowland, who died in 1858. The family moved to Lichfield when he was about four years old, when his father Mr. Broun married Patience Swinfen, the widow of the previous owner of the Swinfen Estates. Following the marriage of his father, the Colonel, his brother and one sister adopted the name Swinfen Broun although one of his sisters was known by the original family name of Broun.

The Colonel was educated at Rugby School and, as a young man, commissioned into the King's Own Staffordshire Militia, rising to be the Commanding Officer of the 3rd Battalion of the South Staffords in 1892. He took the Battalion to South Africa in 1901 and had the reputation of being an efficient and popular Commanding Officer. He retired from his command in 1905 and was Honorary Colonel of the 3rd Battalion until his death in 1948.

In 1891 he married Mrs. Laura Fleming, a member of the Eno family of fruit salts fame, a widow when they were married and a very wealthy woman. They had one daughter, Elsie Farnham, who died in 1935 before both of her parents and had no surviving children.

Both Colonel and Mrs. Swinfen Broun were very generous patrons and benefactors of good causes in the Lichfield and Weeford areas. He was the President of the Lichfield Victoria Hospital for fourteen years and both he and his wife gave major donations to the hospital.

The Colonel was also a generous supporter of many other charitable organisations and of numerous sporting associations in Lichfield and Weeford.

From all accounts, the Colonel was a typical Victorian squire. He appears to have been autocratic, strict, but very courteous to everyone, interested in the welfare of his tenants and very generous, often in an unobtrusive way. He was a keen countryman with a great interest in trees and gardens and he had a great passion for shooting, having as a young man been interested in big game hunting and later in the sports of shooting and hunting as commonly practised by country gentlemen of his day.

Colonel Swinfen Broun served the county in the office of High Sheriff and Deputy Lieutenant and was senior Justice of the Peace for Lichfield County Petty Sessional division.

Amongst the many gifts Swinfen Broun gave to the City of Lichfield was a valuable collection of silver and the public clock situated on the wall of Guildhall. Undoubtedly the most valuable gift of all though was when he gave the City twelve acres of land at Beacon Park in 1943 to extend the recreation grounds and to be used as a public pleasure park and rest garden.

In 1938 the City Council conferred the Freemanship of the City of Lichfield upon the Colonel as a token of gratitude for his great generosity. He died on 8th June, 1948.

Colonel Swinfen Broun survived his wife and daughter and left no close relatives. On his death, after various legacies to friends and charities, he left the residue of his estate to be divided equally between the cathedral authorities and the City of Lichfield. He was buried at Weeford and following his death the Executors sold the farms to the sitting tenants and Swinfen Hall to the Regional Hospital Board. They in turn sold it to the Home Office who applied to demolish the Hall as a consequence of which it became a listed building in 1982. It was then sold and following extensive renovation opened as a Hotel in 1987. It continues to this day to be a Hotel and as such is one of only 200 red star hotels across the British Isles.


Swinfen Broun Charitable Trust
Registered Charity No: 503515

Last updated: January 21st, 2024
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