2014 Day Outings


8th March 2014 - MShed Bristol (own transport)        

MShed has just celebrated its second birthday as Bristol’s newest museum located on the waterfront on Wapping Wharf. It is at the heart of Bristol’s buzzing Harbourside area where you can also find The Watershed, The Arnolfini, Millennium Square and Explore@Bristol. Opened in June 2011, it covers the history of Bristol from mediaeval times to the present day by focusing on the stories of ordinary people who lived through its development into a major trading and industrial city and cosmopolitan multi-cultural centre. Films and recorded interviews are combined with an eclectic mix of objects displayed colourfully and imaginatively in themed zones covering everyday life in the city over the centuries ~ anything from shackles used in the Slave Trade to Trade Union banners to a Bristol green double decker bus from the 1960s! Even more intriguing are the upstairs Stores in the adjoining L Shed, and our trip includes a 1-hour “behind-the-scenes” guided tour of the 6,000 or so objects piled high in this Aladdin’s Cave where all the items in the collection are stored for which there isn’t space downstairs. Here you will find anything from an 18th century sedan chair to a cigarette-making machine from the heyday of WD and HO Wills, and a 19th century carriage to the landing gear of the Brabazon plane!

See website MShed

28th April 2014 - Portsmouth & the Mary Rose Exhibition (coach)       

Join us on an exciting visit to the new museum in Portsmouth dockyard built to house the hull of Henry VIII's prized ship the Mary Rose, saved from the Solvent where it sank laden with men and armaments. Raised 30 years ago it has undergone extensive restoration as the hull has had water removed from its timbers. Genuine artefacts from the ship may be seen in galleries which run the length of the ship. These cover three floors linked by stairs and lifts, and show examples of crew working on board at the time.  A boat tour of the harbour is included, subject to availability. You may also pay on the day to visit any of the other attractions, such as the Victory, if time allows.

See website Historic Portsmouth Dockyard

15th May 2014 - Forde Abbey  (coach)      

Forde Abbey in Dorset is another of the former religious houses which became a pleasant family home. Much history was preserved by the Prideaux family, and the present Kennard family follow their example. The house contains many treasures, the most notable being the Mortlake tapestries woven from cartoons painted by Raphael for the Sistine Chapel. However, the garden is perhaps the greatest glory of the place, as it has been voted among the top ten gardens in England, with its wide lawns, old walls, bright borders, pools, cascades and statues. There is a walled kitchen garden.

See the website Forde Abbey

21st May 2014 - Whittington Court near Cheltenham (coach)       

We will drive to Cheltenham first, where you will have time to look round and to have lunch before we drive to Whittington Court on the outskirts of Cheltenham. The Court is the heart of a small village, built on a Saxon site and later part of a great estate owned by the Earls of Gloucester. The present house was probably built in the mid 16th centuary, and is now owned by Mr and Mrs Stringer. We will have a tour of the house when its history and the ideas which have influenced its style will be explained. Mrs Stringer designs hand-blocked fabrics in her workshop at the top of the house. There are interesting items such as Roman, Venetian and continental glass, tapestries and Egyptian fossils to see. The 12th century church in the village is also worth a visit.

See website Whittington Court

5th June 2014 - Somerset Steam Railway & Dunster Castle(NT)  (coach)                      

We will begin the day by driving to Bishops Lydeard where we leave the coach and board the steam train for a ride, part being along the coast, to Dunster. The coach will meet us to take people who don't want to walk up to the town, or to the castle. Lunch may be obtained in one of several cafés in the town. After lunch you are free to visit the castle and explore the grounds. The castle was home for 600 years to the Luttrell family, though the present building was remodelled in the 1870's. The plaster work and the magnificent carved staircase were retained. The gardens on the terraced wooded slopes which get the sun, contain tender citrus trees (one is 100 years old) and camellias, magnolias and arbutus. There is a conservatory, a flower garden near the town gate, a medieval gatehouse and a shop in the 17th century stables.

See websites West Somerset Railway  and Dunster Castle

11th June 2014 - Upton House & Gardens(NT), Warwickshire (coach)      

Upton House in the 1930's was owned by Lord Bearsted, inheritor of a fortune as his father founded Shell. He bought Upton in 1927, improved the estate and made the house a pleasant home, which he filled with an outstanding collection of pictures and porcelain. Most notable are an El Greco, an Hieronymus Bosch, and a van der Weyden as well as famous English painters such as Stubbs, Gainsborough and Reynolds. There is a large collection of Chelsea porcelain, as well as Sevres and Meissen. There is also a collection of Shell posters. The house is arranged as for a 1938 weekend party, with restored Art Deco bathroom well worth seeing. The National Trust has done much to restore the gardens, where the house terrace leads on to a large lawn which then drops to a mirror pool past flower and vegetable beds.

See website Upton House

17th June 2014 - Dorchester & Athelhampton Manor & Gardens (coach)        

Athelhampton Manor, built in 1485, is an excellent example of an English medieval manor. It has been lovingly maintained and is still a family home. Its charming exterior shows many windows which illuminate the Tudor great hall with its heraldic glass, carved roof beams and linenfold   panelling. The house contains an outstanding collection of furniture from Jacobean to late Victorian. Surrounding the house are Grade 1 listed gardens. The formal gardens have Elizabethan style Ham stone courts with many pools and fountains, and the Great Court is notable for 30 foot high topiary pyramids. The river Piddle runs through the grounds with a special walkway with seating and plant information. Before we go to Athelhampton, lunch time will be spent in Dorchester.

See website Athelhampton Manor

16th July 2014 - Berkeley Castle (coach)                            


Built in 1117 and lived in by the same family for nearly 900 years, Berkeley Castle lies in the remains of an estate which once stretched all the way to London. The Norman keep contains the cell where Edward II was murdered, the medieval kitchen (used into the 20th century) and the Great Hall. Later buildings contain the less austere state rooms, with magnificent furniture, English and Dutch paintings, tapestries and silver. Outside the lovely gardens stretch from the terraces to sweeping lawns with scented borders, shrubs and a large rose collection. There is also a butterfly house and the church to see.

See website Berkeley Castle

5th Aug 2014 - Woburn Abbey  (coach)       

One of the great treasure houses of Britain, Woburn became the seat of the Russell family when they moved from Chenies Manor. Parts of the original Abbey form the oldest rooms in the palace where we go in, before moving on to the newer State rooms. These are approached up a staircase and corridor lined with Russell family portraits, including that of the present Duke. The first rooms are of family interest, such as the Chinese room, the Flying Duchess' room and the racing room followed by a suite of charming rooms used by Queen Victoria which contain several drawings made by the queen. State rooms with magnificent furniture follow. We hope the rooms with Canaletto paintings, used by the family when in residence, will be open. A superb silver and porcelain collection in the vaults ends the tour. Outside there are extensive lawns, an antiques centre and a Chinese dairy.

See website Woburn Abbey

19th Aug 2014 - Chiswick House & Hogarth's House(London)   (coach)    

Chiswick contains two contrasting important 18th century houses, the neo-Palladian Chiswick House, one of the most notable in England and the intimate house lived in by Hogarth the famed satirist. Chiswick House is mainly prized for its architectural interest as it has limited furniture but an interesting Old Masters art collection. It was built between 1726 and 1729 to house the collection made by Earl of Burlington on his Grand Tour. It lies amid 66 acres of gardens and parkland designed by William Kent, and now regarded as the birthplace of the English Landscape Garden movement There is a very good introductory video, then you are free to explore the house and formal gardens. Hogarth's house is a level 10 minutes walk away, and houses a large collection of his work.

See their websites Chiswick House and Hogarth's House

12th Sept 2014 - Lydiard House, Swindon   (coach)     

This will be an afternoon trip to Lydiard House on the edge of Swindon. Originally it was the family seat of the Bolingbroke family and was the heart of a great estate but declined from its zenith in the 18th century to a small estate and a prisoner of war camp in the 1940's, after which it bought by the local authority which has done much to restore the house and garden features such as the lake, the listed coach house, ice house and ornamental fruit and flower garden. The present house on the site is in the Palladian style replacing an earlier Elizabethan building. The state rooms now show the original plaster works, furnishings and family portraits. The nearby Church also merits a visit, with a golden Cavalier statue and unique triptych.

See their website Lydiard House

4th October - Bristol Cathedral  (own transport)      

Bristol Cathedral was founded as an Augustinian Abbey in 1140. There were several building stages with the last incomplete at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539. The Chapter House, completed about 1160, has superbly carved arches and vaulting. The Elder lady Chapel, completed about 1220, has a number of carved animals plus medieval tombs and icons. In the South Transept is a fine example of Anglo-Saxon stonework, the Harrowing of Hell. The South Choir Aisle has a very modern and arresting stained glass window and modern soapstone sculpture of The Madonna and Child with Joseph. This is a morning trip.

See their website Bristol Cathedral

5th November 2014 - Mansion House Bristol (own transport)     

The Mansion House is the official residence of the Lord Mayor of Bristol and houses much of interest. We will be offered tea and biscuits followed by a tour giving an explanation of the history and contents of the house. There is also a small museum showing some of Bristol's regalia and past history. This is an afternoon trip.

See their website Mansion House