2017 Day Outings

Tuesday 4 April -  Corsham Court, Corsham Almshouses and Schoolroom (own transport)

Corsham, only about 10 miles from Bath, is a very attractive historic market town dating back to Saxon times and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. It reached the height of its fortunes in the 16th and 17th centuries with the wool trade and many of its buildings still date from that period. The expansion of Bath, the Kennet and Avon Canal and the construction of Brunel's Great Western Railway also provided an impetus for the local stone quarrying industry in the 18th and 19th centuries.

There is much to see there on any occasion, but we have arranged two guided tours of the major sights. The very picturesque Almshouses at the roundabout at the far end of the town were built in the 1660s by Lady Margaret Hungerford for six poor people, with an attached Free School for ten "needy scholars". We will be taken on an hour-long guided tour.

Following a break for lunch  we have a guided tour of the local "stately home", Corsham Court, with its opulent state rooms and magnificent Renaissance and Baroque art collection. There will also be time at the end to visit its very pretty gardens.

Please note that the Almshouses have uneven stone-flagged floors and steep staircases, so this trip would not be advisable for anyone either unsteady on their feet or unable to climb stairs.

Thursday 13 April - Kelmscott Manor near Lechlade (coach)  

Kelmscott Manor in Gloucestershire was originally built around 1600 for Thomas Turner, a successful yeoman farmer. His family and descendants owned it for over 200 years. In 1871 it was leased to William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the pre-Raphaelite artists. Morris described it as “heaven on earth” and, as his country retreat, it was a source of pleasure and inspiration for the rest of his life.

The house has been owned and cared for by The Society of Antiquaries of London since 1962 and contains a fine collection of early furniture from the Turner family and items from each of William Morris’s other homes, many of which show his iconic designs.

We shall stop at Lechlade Garden Centre with an opportunity to explore and buy lunch. On arrival at Kelmscott we will be given an introductory talk, after which you are free to explore the house and gardens before tea and biscuits (included) prior to our departure.

Please note that some of the stairs within the house are narrow and steep, and are not recommended for the less agile.

Thursday 4 May - Wilton House and Gardens (coach)

Wilton House, near Salisbury, has been the home of the Earls of Pembroke since the 1540’s. The house contains a world famous art collection featuring works by Van Dyck, Brueghel, Van Rijn and Richard Wilson, as well as a large collection of sculpture and furniture by Chippendale. The 17th century interiors and state rooms include the Double Cube Room, designed by Inigo Jones to house paintings of the family. The house is set in 22 acres of gardens and parkland that include a recently restored Palladian bridge and Oriental Garden.

Entry to Lord Pembroke’s Classic and Supercar Collection in the Old Riding School (down steps) and the ‘Cecil Beaton at Wilton’ exhibition of photographs is included.

There is a cafeteria in the grounds where meals and refreshments may be purchased and a gift shop. The coach park is located a short, level distance from the house.

Monday 12 June - Hidcote and Kiftsgate Gardens (coach)     

Hidcote(NT), the Cotswold Art and Craft garden created by the American horticulturist Major Lawrence Johnston, was one of the first to be laid out in garden ‘rooms’, each with a different theme. As one wanders around, it unfolds from parterre to rose garden, to lawns and to pools in a series of pleasurable surprises. Over the years the garden has grown to include a conservatory, lily pool and more extensive kitchen gardens, as well as the Long Walk, wilderness and specialised areas like the White Garden and the fuchsia garden.

There will be a short coffee stop in Cirencester. Hidcote has a snack bar by the entrance, and a restaurant next to the main house which serves salads, soups and other light meals. There is a large plant sale area by the entrance.

Kiftsgate, a short distance away, is spread out along the top of the Cotswold scarp, and the lower garden overlooks the Vale of Evesham. The main garden is famous for its roses, including the Kiftsgate rose. There is an extensive herbaceous border with imaginative colour schemes and unusual plants. This leads eventually to the newest feature, the Water Garden. From these top terraces, paths lead down to a level lawn with half moon pool and a wonderful view over the Vale below. However great care needs to be taken in this region, as the paths are steep and rocky and mostly unfenced, with uneven steps. There is a pleasant tea room in a wing of the house and a small plant sale area as one leaves.

Tuesday 20 June - Hughenden         (coach)        

Hughenden(NT) is an imposing and extensive red brick house, set in a beautiful Buckinghamshire Chiltern valley, surrounded by rolling hills and ancient woodlands. It was the much-loved home of Benjamin Disraeli and it still contains much personal memorabilia of a charismatic Victorian politician and writer. It is surrounded by formal gardens and lawns.

In the 1940’s it became the headquarters for a secret Second World War operation. Eventually it was placed high on Hitler’s target list. There is an exhibition to illustrate these years in the basement and there is a 1940’s living room and wartime bunker in the old ice house.

There are walks in the grounds, a gift shop and a café where you may obtain lunch. There will be a coffee stop en route.

Monday 17 July - Tredegar House and Dyffrin Gardens (coach) 

Dyffryn Gardens(NT) feature a stunning collection of intimate garden rooms, formal lawns, an extensive arboretum and a reinstated glasshouse, housing an impressive collection of cacti and orchids. Designed by an eminent landscape architect, Thomas Mawson, the gardens are the early 20th century vision of industrialist John Cory and his son Reginald. In the afternoon we will move on to Tredegar House.

Tredegar House(NT) is one of the architectural wonders of Wales and one of the most significant late seventeenth century houses in the whole of the British Isles. For over five hundred years it was home to the Morgan family, later Lord Tredegar. Whilst parts of the house date back to medieval times, most of what you see today was built between 1664 and 1672, when most of the house was completely rebuilt and an additional wing was designed as the principal façade.

We will not be stopping en route for coffee but both properties have cafes serving refreshments, They both have gift shops.

Wednesday 26 July - New Forest and Hampshire County Show   (coach)        

This delightfully traditional county show celebrates the best of the English countryside. Less commercialised than the Bath & West Show, but similarly based on a permanent showground, with tarmac paths and ample seating for everyone, there are steam driven vintage farm machines, prize cows and sheep, rare breeds, WI baking tents and flower, floristry and vegetable marquees. There are demonstrations and exhibitions from bee keeping to falconry, woodturning to farriery and cookery to wildlife photography.

There are 2 large and 3 small arenas for non-stop entertainment such as show jumping, scurry driving, sheep shearing, parades of hounds, plus a major entertainment feature (still to be announced) e.g. The Household Cavalry or The Metropolitan Police. There are scores of stalls and trade stands selling a huge variety of goods from local foodstuffs, clothes, and jewellery to combine harvesters.

Book by June 24th please as discounted group entrance has to be bought in advance.

Wednesday 9 August - Broughton Castle     (coach)      

Broughton Castle, the home of the Fiennes family, has been described as “about the most beautiful castle in all England”. It lies on an island of green lawns, surrounded by a broad moat. The original mediaeval castle was badly damaged in the Civil War, and was remodelled in the Tudor style with large windows.

Inside, the ground floor retains some mediaeval features such as the Great Hall, and the dark groyned passage (step down) leading to the dining room. The first floor, reached by an easily climbed staircase, consists of formal reception and bedrooms, notably the Queen's Room and the King's Room, with both antique and modern furniture, some Chinese wallpapers and porcelain arranged in cabinets and in the light bay window embrasures. There are formal rooms and rooms with comfortable chairs and family memorabilia and a glimpse into the family chapel.

Three floors up the west stairs there is access onto the roof and a good view over the surrounding country. The exit from the west stairs leads into the parterre and thence to the wide lawns, and a delightful herbaceous border.

There is a very pleasant tearoom in the range of buildings opposite the castle entrance, and a small gift shop. The parish church just outside the castle grounds is also open to visitors.

Wednesday 23 August - Sherborne Castle and Gardens (coach) 

Sherborne Castle was built for Sir Walter Raleigh in 1594 and, after his imprisonment for treason, was sold to the Digby family who have been in residence since 1617. The castle’s staterooms reflect a glorious variety of decorative styles from the great periods of history. A self-guided tour of the castle is included.

The gardens and pleasure grounds surrounding the 50 acre lake form a magnificent Capability Brown landscape, with sweeping lawns, borders and majestic specimen trees.

We will not be stopping en route for coffee but there is a tea room serving morning coffee, light lunches and delicious afternoon tea. There is a designated picnic area and gift shop.

Thursday 7 September - Badminton House (own transport outing) 

Badminton House is a Grade 1 Listed Building in Gloucestershire and has been the principal seat of the Duke of Beaufort since the late 17th Century, when the family moved there from Raglan Castle. The house gave its name to the sport of Badminton and, each May, hosts the world famous Badminton Horse Trials in its grounds. It was the home of Queen Mary for much of World War II.

The House is not normally open to the public, so this is a rare opportunity to visit on the afternoon of 7 September. We have arranged a tour of the ground floor of the house, including the private rooms of the Duke and Duchess, to view the artwork and antiques they contain. The tour lasts about one hour. We will then visit the South Garden, before having afternoon tea (included).

Limited places available.

Tuesday 19 September - Hanbury Hall    (coach)       

Hanbury Hall(NT) near Droitwich is a gracious William and Mary-style house of beautiful proportions, set in pleasant Worcestershire countryside, with views over to the Malvern Hills. It has large windows in the façade below a steeply pitched roof and is surrounded by formal gardens. Originally a setting for summer parties, it provides a glimpse into early 18th century lifestyles. Inside there are original wall paintings by Sir James Thornhill showing the drama and politics of Georgian lifestyle.

The gardens around the house have areas like the Knot Garden, which has recently had new plantings with bright plants, and the walled garden, bowls green and play area, but extend also to flower meadows and further parkland. There may also be an exhibition in the Orangery.

We will stop for coffee en route. At Hanbury Hall there is a gift shop and a café where you may buy lunch.