Day Outings 2015

8th May - Birmingham Back To Backs(NT) & Sarehole Mill (coach)            

The Back to Backs in Birmingham give an atmospheric glimpse into the lives of the ordinary artisans who helped to make the city great. On a fascinating tour you step back in time on a visit to the last surviving group of back to backs built around a communal courtyard, where you discover something of the lives of the former residents who crammed into these small houses. There are several steep flights of winding stairs in the course of the tour of the Back-to-Backs. See their website  Back To Backs

In the afternoon we visit Sarehole Mill, one of the two surviving watermills in Birmingham. The cobbled courtyard and mill pool are a tranquil haven away from the 21st century whilst the buildings and impressive machinery give an insight into the lives of the millers. The mill was the childhood haunt of J.R.R. Tolkien who lived with his parents in a house overlooking the mill pond, and later on he used the Mill and nearby Moseley Bog as inspiration when writing parts of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.
See their website  Sarehole Mill

19th May - Exbury Gardens (coach)                                                           

Exbury gardens, near Beaulieu in Hampshire, were created by the Rothschild family. They are well worth a visit at any time of the year but especially when the camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas are in bloom. In addition the hydrangea walk, rock garden and sundial garden are worth venturing into. There are several well marked routes around the gardens which provide views across the Beaulieu river. The paths are mainly reasonably flat but uneven in some areas. In the north-east part of the gardens there is a narrow gauge steam railway (not included). There are two places where you can buy snacks and lunches, but little inside cover elsewhere. See their website Exbury Gardens

28th May - Frampton On Severn, Manor Garden & Court (coach)                        

A visit has been arranged to the village of Frampton-on-Severn, the setting for the estate owned since the 11th century by the Clifford family. The Manor Farm, Wool Barn and Frampton Court are only open for a limited period each year and for private visits only. A tour of Frampton Court has been arranged in the morning. It is set in Grade 1 listed parkland created in the style of ‘Capability Brown‘. We will then have a light lunch (included) in the impressive Grade 1 listed Wool Barn, which was built in 1550.

After lunch we will see the walled garden which surrounds the historic medieval Manor Farm at the heart of the village, once the home of ‘Fair Rosamund’, mistress of Henry II. There should then be an opportunity to visit a specialist plant nursery, Pan Global Plants, situated in the 19th Century walled garden to the rear of the Orangery near the Court. See their website Frampton Manor and Court

2nd June - Greys Court(NT), Henley-On-Thames (coach)                                       

Greys Court was listed in the Domesday Book, and grew to be a large manor in the14th century. The remnants became a comfortable family home in 20th century. In its long history only 5 families have lived there, the most recent being the Brunner family who gave it to the National Trust in 2003. There is evidence of a variety of styles in the house as different owners have altered it. There are well laid out gardens inspired by Lady Brunner who wanted them to be a tranquil haven. They consist of a series of secluded areas, each with its own character, such as the white garden, the wisteria garden, and the maze. The roses are a speciality, with examples from early damask roses to modern hybrids: they should be in bloom in June.

The house is open after 1pm and there is free flow through the rooms. The car park is about 250 metres from the house area, and there is an incline to reach both the house and café area, where there is also a gift shop. There are well marked walks around the estate, but care needs to be taken on some paths if wet. See their website Greys Court

18th June - Coton Manor Garden & Cottesbrooke Hall (coach)                               

The garden surrounding Coton Manor, Northants, is most beautifully planned and executed. Starting near the house there is a flower decked terrace leading to a small formal garden and then on to a pool, lawn and rose beds. From there you enter the water and bog garden areas, (take care on the steps and paths), and you can either go into the woodland or between magnificent herbaceous borders and down a sloping lawn where flamingos, ducks and bantams stroll. There is a kitchen garden, a yard with plant sales, and a café. See their website Coton Manor

At Cottesbrooke Hall we will have a guided tour of the house, with its close association with horse racing. There is an initial steep staircase lined with family portraits before reaching the main rooms with their furniture, porcelain and portraits of famous people. The final gallery (down less steep stairs) is lined with paintings of famous horses. There is an area of formal gardens, parkland, and a tea room. See their website Cottesbrooke Hall

17th July - Buscot Park(NT)  (coach)                                           

We will drive first through the Cotswolds to Cirencester where you will have time to buy lunch. Buscot Park, the home of the Hendersons, the family of Lord Faringdon, is now owned by the National Trust, but managed for the Trust by the family. The heart of the estate is a Georgian house filled with the Faringdon collection of pictures, furniture, ceramics and objects d’art. Pleasure gardens surround the house, with a walled garden one side and the dramatic Peto Water garden leading to a lake, and glades with sculptural features the other side. The Peto garden consists of a series of stairways, lawns, fountains, rills and cascades. There is a tea shop and plants for sale. Please note there are steep steps up to the house entrance, and gravel paths and steps, some steep, in the garden. See their website Buscot Park

10th Aug - Dyrham Park private roof top tour (own transport)     

Just what is going on underneath all these acres of polythene sheeting at DYRHAM PARK? Our members have been offered the opportunity to have a private rooftop viewing exclusively for us and our guests on the evening of Monday 10 August. Dyrham Park staff have kindly agreed to open it up specially, with car parking (weather permitting) on the East Front, refreshments in the tearoom and the rare chance to enjoy the quiet of the gardens without the hustle and bustle of tourists and the general public.

16th Aug - Kew Gardens (coach)                                                     

The world famous Kew Gardens offer a fascinating diversity of botanic species to enjoy at all times of the year and in all weathers. With over 14,000 trees and the famous Pagoda, the gardens include several indoor areas – the Palm House, the Princess of Wales Conservatory, the Waterlily House, and the Davies Alpine House. There is also the Marianne North Botanical Paintings pavilion which is well worth a visit. Included in the entrance ticket is entrance to Kew palace, recently restored to its Georgian splendour. If you have a head for heights you can try the new treetops walkway, or have a more sedate tour of the grounds by Land Rover train. The entire day will be spent at Kew giving you plenty of time to explore, and relax in the cafes for lunch and tea, and visit the souvenir shop. See their website Kew Gardens

3rd Sept - Chedworth Roman Villa(NT) & Bourton On The Hill Garden (coach)           

In recent years much has been done to reinterpret the meaning of the remains of this Roman villa, and excavation still continues. The main mosaics have been enclosed so that they can be seen at leisure, with explanatory boards as well as a study/teaching room. Outside, the sacred well is a feature, and rooms now thought to be elaborate areas for entertaining and for the families who once lived there. There is a Victorian museum, and a shop and café where you may buy a simple lunch. At Chedworth care needs to be taken on the uneven paths and steps. There are areas outside where you may picnic. See their website Chedworth Roman Villa

After lunch we will drive to Bourton-on-the-Hill, and its lovely garden. This is entered through an impressive tithe barn, where there is sometimes an exhibition and where tea and delicious cakes are available. In a compact area are lawns and terraces, beautiful herbaceous borders, a parterre, and more; always a delight. See their website Bourton House Garden

16th Sept - Merchant's House & Marlborough (coach)               

The House of Thomas Bayly was built following the Great Fire of Marlborough in 1653. Over the next half century the fine timber and brick building was constructed with it's interior panelled walls, brilliant wall paintings and commanding oak staircase. It's position on Marlborough's high street is a reminder that it was both a shop and a family home of a prosperous Puritan Family.

By careful conservation of the building and use of appropriate furnishings, the Merchants House has been brought back to life as the home of the Bayly family, who lived through the English Civil War and the republican Commonwealth. We have become familiar with the homes of the aristrocracy but here is an opportunity to view the 17th century family home of a middle class silk merchant. See their website Merchants House

We will have plenty of time in Marlborough to explore the many fine shops and have refreshments.

19th October - Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol (own transport)       

Arnos Vale was the main cemetery for Bristol from 1839 until its closure in 1988 and, with the aid of Heritage Lottery funding, a major restoration project was completed in 2010. It contains thousands of tombs and monuments, many of considerable sculptural and historic interest and two architecturally imposing chapels. The 45 acre site is also now a haven for wildlife as some areas have been deliberately allowed to remain natural and overgrown.

We will go on a guided walk entitled "Makers of Bristol" that covers some of the well-known and some of the lesser-known men and women whose inventions, businesses and philanthropic work from the Victorian era to the First World War transformed Bristol into the modern industrial city we know today. Sturdy footwear is essential.

After our tour you might like to visit the Cafe or explore the rest of the cemetery. In the vaults of the Anglican Chapel, for example, there is a special exhibition running this year entitled "For Our Tomorrow" dedicated to the First World War soldiers who were buried at Arnos Vale having been repatriated with serious injuries, and there is a special war memorial elsewhere on the site and section of the cemetery devoted to them.