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Visit to Highclere Castle
and the South of England 17 - 19 July 2018

Visit Highclere Castle
 (1) Highclere Castle (2) Royal Derby Museum and Factory  

We plan to make it a two night stay at the 3-star Donnington Grove Hotel & Country Club (or similar). Tickets will be limited, first come first served.

Tuesday 17 July 2018 The Royal Derby Museum and Factory
We depart from our local area this morning and journey south towards Derby, stopping en-route for refreshments (not included), before arriving at our first visit. Here we will enjoy a guided tour of the working factory, with the opportunity to try your hand at some of the key skills in the Demonstration Studio. We will then visit the museum which houses the most comprehensive collection of Crown Derby Porcelain to be seen anywhere in the world and includes pieces from all three of the factories in the company’s history. We will also have an opportunity to browse in the shop where visitors to Royal Crown Derby are able to purchase the exclusive Derby Ram paperweight, which is only available from the factory shop. Lunch is available here today (not included).

Wednesday 18 July 2018 Sandham Memorial Chapel and Highclere Castle
Following breakfast this morning, we begin our day with a visit to nearby Sandham Memorial Chapel (NT). Sandham Memorial Chapel houses what is arguably the most important series of paintings by the Modern British artist, Sir Stanley Spencer (1891-1959). The chapel is a temple to the genius of Spencer, who wanted to express in paint his military experience during the Great War. His nineteen canvases, which took six years to complete, are unique in that they depict everyday routine rather than the horror of combat. His initial posting as a medical orderly at Beaufort Hospital in Bristol instilled in him a sense that the everyday and the menial could bring him closer to God. His wartime service took him to Macedonia where he continued service as a medical orderly and later as an infantryman. Lunch is available here today (not included).

We then continue for a visit to Highclere Castle - the main filming location for the award-winning period drama Downton Abbey. Highclere Castle is not only a stunning building, it is also the very welcoming home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. Built on an ancient site, the original house was recorded in the Domesday Book. The present day Castle was designed in 1842 by Sir Charles Barry, the architect also responsible for building the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. The Castle’s history includes a fascinating connection with ancient Egypt - the 5th Earl, along with Howard Carter, discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings in 1922. The Castle now houses an exhibition that commemorates this historic event, including some rare antiquities from the 5th Earl's earlier Egyptian excavations. The distinctive gardens and park designed by Capability Brown, also provides much interest and enjoyment for visitors. We return to our hotel where dinner will be served this evening.

Thursday 19 July 2018 Waddesdon Manor and return home
Sadly we have reached the last day of our trip and after breakfast, we must check out of our hotel. This morning we will have time for one final visit to the house and gardens of Waddesdon Manor (NT) – which featured as the exterior of the fictional ‘Haxby Park’ in the second series of ‘Downton Abbey’. Situated on top of a knoll with fantastic views over the Vale of Aylesbury, the house was built in the Neo-Renaissance style of a French château between 1874 and 1885 for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild as a weekend residence for grand entertaining, and to display his outstanding collection of arts to the fashionable world. The manor also features a splendid Rococo ironwork aviary housing exotic birds overlooking the garden designed by Lanning Roper in the 1960s. Lunch is available here (not included). Following our visit we will begin our journey home, stopping en-route for refreshments (not included) before returning back to our original departure point early evening.

from £355.00 per person (based on 30 persons)

Included in the price
• Two nights’ hotel accommodation on a dinner, bed and full breakfast basis at the 3-star Donnington Grove Hotel & Country Club (or similar). All rooms have private facilities.
• Comfortable coaching throughout
• Entrance to the Royal Derby Museum including a factory tour, the Sandham Memorial Chapel (NT), Highclere Castle (castle, gardens & exhibition) and Waddesdon Manor (NT)

Not included (per person)
• Single room supplement - £80.00
• National Trust non-member supplement - £25.00
• Insurance - £TBA (under 65); £TBA (65-74); £TBA (75-90)

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Reports on Visits and Tours during 2017

Visit to Castle Howard to see the house decorated for Christmas
Thursday 23 November 2017

Castle Howard
Castle Howard Christmas
 (1) Castle Howard   (2) Christmas Decorations at Castle Howard 

We travelled by coach to the popular Crown and Cushion Inn at Welburn for a two course lunch, followed by a visit to Castle Howard to see the house decorated for Christmas. The whole day was a roaring success.

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Visit to Bantock House Museum, Highgrove Garden,
Berkeley Castle and the Cotswolds 27 - 29 June 2017

Report on the Trip - By Christine Goodall

Visit Highgrove
 (1) HRH Prince Charles, Highgrove House and Gardens   (2) Highgrove Gardens  

At the end of June 2017 a group of 26 of our members had a very enjoyable visit to The Cotswolds. En route to our comfortable 4 star hotel near Malmesbury we stopped at Bantok House, a beautifully preserved Arts and Crafts house near Birmingham.The next day after a leisurely breakfast we spent the morning exploring Tetbury. In the afternoon our coach picked us up for our visit to Berkeley Castle where we had a conducted tour of the castle, the keep of which was dates from the 12th century, the castle is fully intact and still lived in by the Berkeley family which gave it a lovely ambience.

The following day we were to return home but spent a pleasant morning in Malmesbury a charming market town which is England's oldest borough with a stunning 12th century Abbey, also still in use today. However the afternoon was the highlight of our trip when we visited the garden at Highgrove, the home of H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, members had a conducted tour of the garden with a very informative guide and had the opportunity to have their photograph taken in the garden by a professional photographer (a member of the Prince's Trust who now photographs most of the Prince's official engagements.) Before leaving for our return journey our members had time to get a meal in the garden restaurant and visit the Highgrove gift shop, the profits of which all go to the Prince's charitable trusts. We had a smooth journey home and members thanked our driver for his safe and considerate driving and everyone agreed it had been a very enjoyable trip and our chairman said he hoped everyone would join our trip next year to Highclere Castle.

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Wentworth Woodhouse 26 April 2017
Report on the Trip
- By Christine Goodall

Wentworth Woodhouse
Wentworth-Woodhouse Intreior
              (1) Wentworth Woodhouse Exterior   (2) Wentworth Woodhouse Interior     

Forty one of our members enjoyed a great trip to Wentworth Woodhouse one of the finest Georgian houses in England, 'Grade 1' listed it ranks as one of Britain's largest and most important country houses. The estate has recently been acquired by the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust who are applying for and obtaining grants to make essential repairs to the building and to restore the gardens to their former glory. After a comfortable coach journey we enjoyed a very nice lunch at Le Bistro restaurant in the picturesque village of Wentworth (recommended by the staff at Wentworth estate.) Suitably sustained we were met at the grand house by our guides for the Strafford Tour seeing 15 of the most important rooms in the building. The guides were very knowledgeable, passionate about Wentworth and enthusiastic about the plans for the future. They told us the house is often used by film crews making period drama programmes, which we will look out for from now on. On our return journey our members said they had had a great day and expressed a wish to visit again in a few years time to see what progress has been made with the restoration.

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Reports on Visits and Tours during 2016

Visit to Littlethorpe Manor Ripon and Free afternoon in Harrogate
Wednesday May 25 2016

We met at the Downe Arms early in the morning in order to arrive at Littlethorpe Manor at approximately 10.30 am. We enjoyed coffee and biscuits on arrival, with introductory talk. Garden maps were provided for members to explore the gardens at leisure. The gardens exceeded our expectations. (NB. The owners of Littlethorpe Manor are related directly to the family who founded The Thackray Medical Museum, Leeds, which we will be visiting in September). In the afternoon we travelled to Harrogate with free time for lunch, shopping and gallery visits etc. Everyone had a thoroughly enjoyable day.

Visit to Shropshire and Ironbridge 5 - 7 June 2016

An interesting break was enjoyed by all with an overnight stay (dinner, bed and breakfast) nights 5 and 6 June at the Telford Golf and Spa Resort (4*).

Sunday 5 June:- Visited Attingham Park, near Shrewsbury (National Trust).

Monday 6 June:- Visited the Ironbridge Gorge complex;  the Coalport China Museum; and the Jackfield Tile Museum.

Tuesday 7 June:- Visited Benthall Hall near Broseley (National Trust).

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Visit to Lincoln Castle (including "Poppies wave")
Lincoln Cathedral Wednesday 29 June 2016

(A review of the day by Jessica Cathcart)

After a sunny start and gloriously panoramic journey over the Yorkshire Wolds, Humber Bridge and along Watling Street, the rain set in just as the coach carrying 43 of our members reached Lincoln.

Undaunted, our intrepid members made the most of this popular trip. It gave us all a wonderful opportunity to see the touring wave of ceramic poppies at Lincoln Castle just as we are about to honour the centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme.

Sadly the heavy rain necessitated that we bypass the famous battlements walk with its spectacular views but the newly renovated castle was a dry haven of great interest. This former men's and women's claustrophobic prison accommodation of the 1840-1870s was restored for us to view. The untouched chapel arrangements with areas for debtors and the condemned, the remainder given narrow sealed blinkered pews were shocking to us today.

Although we were disappointed that Lincoln's copy of the Magna Carta had been so recently removed because of a humidity issue, the film about it was engaging and enlightening. After our visit to the castle we walked across to the cathedral where we enjoyed an excellent buffet lunch in a cathedral reception room.

After lunch we were free to explore the Cathedral itself, and marvel at the intricate stone and wood carvings, the choir, the impressive chapter house, find the Lincoln Imp and view the 1958 Duncan Grant murals in the St Blaise Chapel, on the theme shepherds and wool.

The time just flew, and all too soon it was 4pm and time to depart. All in all we had a superb day, well worth the early 8 am start.

Our grateful thanks to Pauline Latham who well deserved our three cheers for her thoughtful and careful organisation which ensured another highly enjoyable outing.

Thank you Pauline.

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Click links for Visits in 2018:-
 Highclere Castle

Click links for
reports on Visits in 2017:-

 Castle Howard
 The Cotswolds
 Wentworth Woodhouse

Click links for
reports on Visits in 2016:-

 Littlethorpe Manor
 Shropshire and Ironbridge
 Lincoln Cathedral