In place of our postponed visit to Weston Park in August 2020, we enjoyed an excellent virtual tour by award winning Pepe Martinez, a London Blue Badge Guide and tutor, on one of London’s most fascinating districts.
This told us the story of wave after wave of people coming to London to seek refuge, looking for a better life. Using powerful images, video and google street views we saw the arrival of French Huguenots and the 1680’s through to the more than 10.000 Jewish Kindertransport children who arrived at Liverpool Street station in 1939.
This Christmas special live online virtual day visit will be celebrating all things Christmassy.
We recommend a mince pie and glass of Christmas cheer to hand as you enjoy this extra treat.
Presented by Tourist Guides Pepe Martinez, an award- winning London Blue badge Tourist Guide and accredited Institute of Tourist Guide Trainer who is currently tutoring on the London Blue badge training course, and Simon Whitehouse, also an award- winning Blue badge Guide and Lecturer at the Ithaca College London Centre.
This extra special Christmas extravaganza will be in two parts. Part one will explore the history of all those Christmas traditions we now take for granted such as Christmas crackers, mince pies, Christmas cards and the Christmas tree.
After a short interval, part two will be a virtual Version of “Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol” which will be presented jointly by Pepe and Simon.
This event will be streamed online on Friday 18th December 2020 at 11:00am via a link sent to members only and available by this link to YouTube for 48 hours only.
Our visit to Belvoir Castle was a fascinating excursion into the history of the Duke of Rutland’s family since 1067. We saw one of the finest examples of Regency architecture in the world in the castle today which was built in the early 1800s for the 5th Duke and is the fourth castle to stand on this site. The numerous paintings and treasures, which have been collected by the family for nearly 1,000 years, were wonderful.
The weather was against a full exploration of the gardens but a few intrepid members ventured to see how the lost plans of Capability Brown had come to fruition. Some also did the walks through formal gardens, woodland, Japanese, Duchess’s and Hermit’s gardens.
We also had very tasty food, drink, some retail therapy and good company. In all a most enjoyable day.
After delays due to traffic and a very wet start to the day we had a most interesting visit to Stonor Manor. This is one of England’s oldest manor houses housing outstanding displays of portraits, tapestries, bronzes and ceramics.
It has been the family’s residence for over 850 years making it one of the oldest family residences still lived in. The guides brought the most interesting family history to life while we toured the house before lunch in the restaurant in the manor.
After lunch we visited Hughenden Manor which is the handsome home of Benjamin Disraeli, set in a Chiltern valley where the sun made a brief appearance. It houses a fascinating collection of personal memorabilia of this colourful statesman. Disraeli’s hillside retreat later became the headquarters for a top secret Second world war operation that put Hughenden high on Hitler’s target list. The basement exhibition, 1940s living-room and ice house bunker was fascinating bringing wartime Britain to life.
In all a most interesting day visiting two of England’s famous Manor houses.
Blenheim Palace was built in the 18th century as a gift to the 1st Duke of Marlborough who won the battle of Blenheim on 13th August 1704. From 1764 the grounds were transformed by Capability Brown. Today it is most notably known as the birthplace of Winston Churchill.
We had a most enjoyable visit learning about the history of the Palace with the new audio guides, while marvelling at the beauty of the Palace dressed Christmas. This was a magical experience.
The weather was kind allowing us to wander round the Capability Brown gardens and lakes.
The final treat was to visit the “Living Crafts for Christmas fair” which showcased over 150 British designer-makers of contemporary crafts. This was a most enjoyable way to buy some of our Christmas gifts!
The visit to Woburn Abbey, grade 1 listed, was most enjoyable. It is the family seat of the Duke of Bedford and is still the family home to the current Duke with extensive landscape gardens and a deer park.
We had a private tour of the Abbey viewing the art collection, amongst the finest in private hands, which was wonderful including some 250 paintings, with works by Rubens, Van Dyck, Canaletto and Velasquez. One room holds 22 Canaletto paintings which is the most you can see in a private collection apart from the Queen’s. Moreover, we also saw the collection of the most impressive manufactures of furniture, French and English in many periods, and a diverse and amazing collection of porcelain and silverware.
The staff were charming and helpful and the weather was kind which helped to make a most successful visit.
Forty eight members had a successful trip to Oxford in beautiful sunshine. The itinerary included a walking tour of central Oxford with a visit to New College. Here we saw the wonderful “Harry Potteresque” dining room, beautiful stain glass windows, wood carvings, brasses and gardens.
After lunch there was a lecture by the director of Education at the Ashmolean Museum on the history and highlights of the collections. We ended the day with free time to further explore the Museum and Oxford.
Members enjoyed an excellent visit to Hellens Manor in Herefordshire. This is one of the oldest buildings in England with some 12th Century foundations and Tudor, Jacobean and Georgian architecture. After an informative guided tour, the day concluded with afternoon tea and cake in the sunshine.
The day also included morning coffee, a guided tour and lunch at Weston’s Cider Museum.
This excursion was to Renishaw Hall, a grade 1 listed country house in Derbyshire. It was built in 1627 by George Sitwell but has been altered over the centuries. It has remained in the Sitwell family and in 2009 the 7th baronet, the nephew of Edith and Osbert, bequeathed it to his daughter, Alexandra.
It featured in the 1980 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and is said to have been Lawrence’s inspiration for Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
The house is only open to groups by private arrangement but the gardens, including a highly regarded Italianate garden, are open to the public.
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