Born to Welsh parents at her grandmother’s home in Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil, Laura Ashley spent her childhood between Merthyr Tydfil and Croydon, before returning to Aberdare as an evacuee in the Second World War, where she attended secretarial school. While working as a secretary and raising her first two children in London, she undertook some development work for the Women’s Institute on quilting, and began designing headscarves, napkins, table mats and tea-towels which her husband, Bernard Ashley, printed at home on a machine he had designed. The couple built a profitable business selling their products to department stores and by mail order, before the first Laura Ashley shop opened in Machynlleth in 1961. The family, including the Ashleys’ four children, lived directly above it. Ashley died, aged 60, in 1985, and is buried in the churchyard of St John the Baptist, in Carno, Wales. The company bearing her name made an £8 million profit in 2017.