2018 Day Outings

Wednesday 21 March - "PYRONAUT" & the CRANE, Bristol Harbourside - Own transport

Some of you may remember Clive Brain's highly entertaining talk in March 2017 about "Pyronaut", Bristol Harbour's firefighting ship on which he served as a fireman for a number of years. As its skipper, he still takes her out into the Harbour to give a practical demonstration of her water cannons to visitors on board. He has offered us the chance to join him on Wednesday 21 March.

In addition we will be able to go up to the top of the Stothert and Pitt crane next to M Shed, view the operating cab and watch a demonstration of it operating. Thankfully we don't have to climb all the steps as they will take us up in a "cherry picker" but you will need a head for heights! This promises to be a really fun event with a difference! Why not make a day of it and visit the M Shed as well if you haven't had the chance to explore it before? Entry is free. It holds a fascinating collection of exhibits about Bristol's trade and industrial heritage, everything from items to do with the 18th century slave trade, up to cigarette-making machinery owned by W.D. and H.O Wills and a 1960s bright green double-decker bus. They also have a very good cafe on site! 

Friday 11 May - TYNTESFIELD (NT) - Coach   

The Tyntesfield estate, near Wraxall, Bristol, was home to the Gibbs family, who built their fortune in the C19th in the fertiliser trade. In the 1860’s the family extended and extensively remodelled their original Georgian house in the then popular Victorian Gothic-Revival style, and added an adjoining chapel. The National Trust purchased Tyntesfield from the Gibbs family in 2002, following the death of Richard Gibbs, the previous year. The Trust then began its extensive and ongoing programme of conservation and restoration work on the buildings and on the collection of 50,000 objects within the house and estate.

The Grade 1 listed house is surrounded by terraced gardens and parkland, with a stableyard, summerhouses and an aviary nearby. The kitchen gardens, a restored Grade II* listed orangery and tearooms are a short stroll downhill from the house, and an estate bus is available to ferry you to and from the house to this area. Home Farm on the estate has been converted into a visitor reception centre and houses a café/restaurant, shop, plant stall and country craft demonstration area.

Wednesday 23 May - OXFORD AND ASCOTT HOUSE (NT)  -  Coach  

We will drive directly to Oxford, arriving in time for a leisurely lunch. We hope to park by the Ashmolean Museum, where you can visit some of the exhibition galleries and buy lunch in the basement café. After lunch we will continue to Ascott House, beyond Aylesbury.

Ascott House is one of the houses in the hunting shires owned or once owned by members of the Rothschild family and the family still lives there. It is not as grand as Waddesdon and is Jacobean in style, based around a Tudor core, with black and white timbering.

Inside it is a charming and comfortable house, with unostentatious signs of wealth and taste. There are some really good pieces of furniture and some delightful Dutch paintings, as well as examples of English portraitists – Reynolds, Gainsborough, Hogarth – and French examples of painting and sculpture. However the cream of the collection is an extensive display of Chinese pottery and porcelain, some C18th, but especially, rare, early examples of Han, Tang, Song etc with many in the strongly coloured glazes admired by Anthony de Rothschild, who made much of the collection.

The gardens mainly lie behind the house and include unusual features, such as the Madeira Walk, The Ascot Slate Circle by Richard Long and the Venus Fountain. There is also a tea room.

Thursday 7 June - MOTTISFONT (NT) near Romsey   -  Coach  

Mottisfont is an C18th house, built on the site of a medieval Augustinian abbey. Gardens, lawns and ancient trees surround it and the spring that gave the estate its name can be seen bubbling water into one of the many shallow streams that flow through the park.

The house is themed to reflect the life of Maud Russell, who lived at Mottisfont in the 1930’s and 1940’s and whose diaries of her time at Mottisfont have been published recently. She commissioned her friend, the artist Rex Whistler, to paint the drawing room in his unique style. The top floor of the house houses a permanent C20th art collection. The kitchen area, which includes a water-driven roasting spit and some vaulted rooms of the original abbey, over which the current house was built, can be visited.

The Mottisfont Rose Gardens contain a world-renowned collection of old-fashioned roses, in a series of walled gardens, close to the house. We have chosen to visit in June when the roses should be at their best. There is also a winter garden and a gazebo. Mottisfont has several café/restaurant areas and, within its new visitor reception centre, it has a shop and an extensive collection of plants for sale. Please note that some of floors in the basement area are uneven.

Tuesday 19 June - HIGHNAM GARDENS  -  Coach  

Highnam Court, a house built after the Civil War, has extensive gardens, first created in the mid 19th century and developed to become one of the finest gardens in England. However these were neglected in the 20th century and were completely overgrown until the present owner, Roger Head, bought the property in 1994 and began to restore and extend them until they are, again, some of finest in the country.

As we drive into the property you will be able to see one of the tree carvings, on one side of the drive, and on the right hand side, one of the lakes around which a lovely variety of lawns and bushes have been planted. We enter the garden, via the parterre, before descending the lawns towards a formal rose garden, planted with red, white and pink roses, and the second lake. To the west of the rose garden a variety of rare species of trees have been planted, leading to a narrow terrace with tall pyramids. Beyond this is a Monet garden, its lake crossed by a Japanese-inspired bridge, and filled with water lilies. We will have tea and cake (included) in the Orangery.

On the way to Highnam we plan to stop at a Toby Carvery, where you may purchase lunch.

Cancelled owing to lack of support


We will travel by coach to Cheltenham Race Course where we will take a Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway train to Broadway Station. The line travels through quiet villages and has outstanding views towards the Malvern Hills. Arriving at Broadway Station, we will re-board our coach for the short journey to Snowshill Manor.

Snowshill Manor is a typical C16th Cotswold country house, owned by the National Trust. Formerly the property of Winchcombe Abbey, it was given by Henry VIII to Queen Catherine Parr. It is famous for its C20th owner, the architect Charles Paget Wade, who was an eccentric man who amassed an enormous and diverse collection of over 22,000 objects that interested him. The objects he bequeathed to the National Trust with Snowshill Manor include his collection of 26 suits of Japanese samurai armour, bicycles, toys, musical instruments and much more. Wade laid out the Snowshill garden as a series of outside rooms.

Monday 6 August - UGBROOKE HOUSE AND TEIGNMOUTH   -  Coach   

This trip combines a visit to a fascinating “stately home” with a few hours’ relaxation at the seaside on the Devon coast. We will be arriving late morning in Teignmouth, with time for us to walk along the promenade or beach, explore the shopping areas and purchase lunch in one of the cafés or restaurants along the sea front.

Early afternoon, we will drive 10 miles up the road to Ugbrooke House and Gardens for an exclusive, private guided tour of the house of about an hour and a half, with home-made shortbread and hot drinks included in the price, along with some time to explore the gardens and park independently. Ugbrooke has been the Clifford family seat since 1604 and its Catholic owners included Charles II’s Lord High Treasurer. Originally a modest Tudor house, it was rebuilt and enlarged in Georgian times, and in the Second World War was requisitioned as a house for Polish refugees. Rescued in 1957 by the 13th Lord Clifford after a decade of neglect, it has been beautifully restored over the last 60 years to its former glory, with impressive state rooms designed by Robert Adam, valuable paintings and antiques, a lavish Catholic chapel, formal gardens and acres of Capability Brown parkland, complete with lakes.

Thursday 23 August -  ARUNDELLS, CATHEDRAL CLOSE, SALISBURY  -  Coach  

Arundells in Cathedral Close, Salisbury, was the former home of Prime Minister, Sir Edward Heath and is now managed by a charitable foundation. It was originally a medieval canonry and is considered to be one of the finest houses in the Close, bringing together six distinct architectural styles.

The peaceful garden extends to around two acres in total, with lawns, mature trees, shrubbery and borders. It was redesigned in 1985 to Sir Edward's wishes. We will be divided into groups of about 12 for the guided tour of the house, which lasts about 75 minutes.

The remainder of our time in Salisbury is free time for you to visit other places of interest or explore the city.

There is plenty to see within the Close. The Rifles Museum is next door to Arundells, Salisbury Museum is also in the Close, as is Mompesson House, a National Trust property, Salisbury Cathedral is nearby and the city has numerous places available for refreshments and lunch.


Tuesday 25 September - BRISTOL AEROSPACE MUSEUM & CONCORDE - Coach 

This fabulous museum and exhibition will take you through the history of powered flight, starting with the earliest days with those 'magnificent men in their flying machines', through the courageous men & women who fought in the two World Wars to the supersonic flight of "Concorde".

The stunning centrepiece of the exhibition is "Concorde Alpha Foxtrot", the last iconic supersonic passenger jet to be built and fly. How did the engineers of the 1960's create an aircraft capable of carrying over 100 people at over twice the speed of sound flying from London to New York in under 3 hours?

Our visit, which will include a guided tour and a look inside "Concorde", will give us some idea of what it was like to work and fly on "Concorde" alongside royalty & film stars.

Thursday 11 October - BATSFORD ARBORETUM - Coach  

Award-winning Batsford Arboretum is home to the country’s largest private collection of trees and shrubs and famous for plants collected from China and Japan. It houses many plants that are now extinct in the wild. The Arboretum covers 56 acres of land that was landscaped by Lord Redesdale, grandfather of the famous Mitford sisters. He lived at Batsford during the First World War. The Batsford Foundation, a charity set up in 1983 to promote the conservation of arboreta, gardens and historic landscapes, now manages Batsford Arboretum.

Our visit in October is a chance to see the arboretum in its riot of autumn colours. There is every hue of seasonal colour from flame pink to sunshine yellow, from deep purple to pale gold. This is definitely the place to visit for an autumn treat.

We will arrive in time for you to purchase lunch at the Arboretum’s Garden Terrace Cafe (lunch not included), should you wish to. After lunch we will take a guided walking tour (included in the tour cost and lasting an hour and a half) to see some of the highlights of the arboretum, so stout shoes and a good level of personal mobility are essential.

There is a well-stocked plant centre and garden shop and a gift shop for souvenirs and gift ideas, or you can visit The Applestore for shabby chic and vintage goods. The Cotswold Falconry Centre (additional charge) is based on the same site.