Lunch at The Star, Leather Road, Chessington - January
|Lunch at the Cricketers, Epsom Common - March|
|Lunch at The Star, Leather Road, Chessington - 20 May|
|Lunch at the William Bourne, Chessington - 24 June|
|Lunch at The North Star, Hook Road - 1st October|
On Friday 26th April, 28 members and guests set off on a journey to Hereford for a 4 day long weekend away.Our first stop was the National Trust's Snowshill Manor and gardens, where we looked around the amazing collection of items that the artist and architect Mr Wade had collected during his life.
There were many unlikely treasures alongside beautiful and interesting objects. Afterwards we travelled on to the Three Counties Hotel in Hereford, which was to be our home for the next three nights.
On the Saturday, we travelled to Ludlow where we had time to explore at leisure.
Ludlow is a thriving medieval market town. The historic town centre and the 11th century castle
are situated on a cliff above the River Teme
and are surrounded by beautiful countryside. In the afternoon, we went to Berrington Hall,
another National Trust gem. It's a fine Georgian Mansion situated within "Capability" Brown's final garden and landscape.
Sunday saw us visiting Hereford city centre with the Norman cathedral being the main attraction.
The cathedral houses the famous Mappa Mundi, the map of the "world" dating from the thirteen century. We then drove on to the beautiful viewpoint of Symonds Yat,
which overlooks the picturesque winding River Wye. From there, we made our way to Gloucester quayside, and many of us took a boat trip on "Queen Boadicea II" along the Gloucester canal. It was a very interesting trip, with the captain telling us the history of the canal and pointing out some of the local wildlife.
Our journey home on Monday was via Hidcote, a world famous garden in the north Cotswolds. Wandering along the narrow pathways, we came across secret gardens, unexpected views and plants bursting with colour.
Everyone said what a wonderful hotel we had stayed in, with very comfortable rooms and great food. Many thanks to Keith Waller for yet again organising such an enjoyable trip.
Trip to Torquay - Autumn 2018
On Friday 7th September 2018, 26 of our members, partners and friends boarded a coach that took us to Torquay for four days. On the way, we stopped at the National Trust's Stourhead estate, a country house near Stourton. It was one of the first grand Palladian-style villas to be built in England, designed for its owner, Henry Hoare, and was finished in 1725. The House has changed somewhat over the years, with different members of the family altering the appearance to suit their own tastes and fashions of the time. The additions of the wings and of the portico to the front of the house were made by Sir Richard Colt Hoare and Sir Henry Hugh Hoare during their ownership. Over the years, the shape, size and functions of the rooms have also changed for best use of the members of the family living there at the time.
The world-famous landscape garden has at its centrepiece a magnificent lake reflecting classical temples, mystical grottoes, and rare and exotic trees. After lunch, we continued to the Toorak Hotel in Torquay, where we stayed for the rest of our time away. On Saturday, we went to Brixham, which brought back memories for many of the members.
We then travelled to Paignton railway station where we boarded a steam train on the Paignton and Dartmouth steam railway
to Kingswear. There, we took the ferry across the River Dart to Dartmouth.
From there we travelled to Totnes. Totnes has a long recorded history, dating back to 907, when its first castle was built. By the twelfth century it was already an important market town, and its former wealth and importance may be seen from the number of merchants' houses built in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
On Sunday, we visited the Moreton Hampstead Motor Museum which is home to a collection of over 130 historic vehicles, including pre-1920s to the 1990s. Run by local motoring enthusiast Frank Loft, the museum is housed in a newly refurbished bus depot. The collection is complemented by motoring artefacts and automobilia, and the viewable restoration workshop makes it more than just a museum.
We then had a tour of parts of Dartmoor, via Two Bridges and Princetown, stopping at Tavistock for lunch. In the afternoon we visited Buckfast Abbey. The first abbey at Buckfast was founded as a Benedictine monastery in 1018. It is unknown where exactly it was located. Around 1135 the abbey was established in its current position and later became a Cistercian monastery. By the 16th century, the abbey was in decline. Only 22 new monks were tonsured between 1500 and 1539, and at the time of the abbey's dissolution in 1539, there were only 10 monks in residence. During the Dissolution, 1.5 tons of gold, gilt and silver, from the treasures of the abbey, were delivered to the Tower of London. The abbey then became privately owned.
In 1882 the whole site was purchased by French Benedictine monks and in 1937, the present abbey was completed.
On Monday, we checked out of our hotel to drive home, stopping at the National Trust's Montacute House. A late Elizabethan mansion, it was built in about 1598 by Sir Edward Phelips. His descendants owned the house until the early twentieth century but was acquired by the National Trust in 1927.
We then made our way back home. A brilliant mini-break and well done to our social secretary Keith Waller for organising it.
Trip to North Wales - Spring 2018
On Monday 9th April 2018, 32 of our members, partners and friends boarded a coach that took us to the North Wales area for five days. On the way up there, we stopped at Shugborough Hall, a National Trust property near Milford in Staffordshire. The estate was owned by the Bishops of Lichfield until the Dissolution of the Monasteries, upon which it passed through several hands before being purchased in 1624 by William Anson, a local lawyer and ancestor of the Earls of Lichfield.
The estate remained in the Anson family for three centuries. Following the death of the 4th Earl of Lichfield in 1960, the estate was allocated to the National Trust in lieu of death duties, and then immediately leased to Staffordshire County Council. Management of the estate was returned to the National Trust in 2016. It comprises the hall, museum, kitchen garden and a farm.
After a lunch, we then travelled on to Mold, where we stayed for the next 4 nights at the Beaufort Park Hotel.
On the Tuesday we boarded the coach and travelled to that famous station with the longest name in Britain - shortened at various times to Llanfair PG, for a photo-opportunity.
We then went on to Plas Newydd - a National Trust house set in gardens, parkland and woodland on the north bank of the Menai Strait. It is home to one of the most famous and largest landscape murals in Britain, painted by the renowned artist Rex Whistler, who rather "fancied" the daughter at the time and made great effort to visit at every opportunity.
After lunch, we visited Beaumaris castle. It was built as part of Edward I's campaign to conquer the north of Wales. Plans were made to construct the castle, but this was delayed due to lack of funds and work only began in 1295. A substantial workforce was employed in the initial years under the direction of James of St George. Edward's invasion of Scotland soon diverted funding from the project, however, and work stopped, only recommencing after an invasion scare in 1306. When work finally ceased around 1330 a total of £15,000 had been spent, a huge sum for the period, but the castle remained incomplete.
On the Wednesday, we spent part of the morning at the market in Mold followed by a trip to Portmeirion, a tourist village in Gwynedd, North Wales for lunch and an afternoon visit. It was designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975 in the style of an Italian village, and is now owned by a charitable trust.
It is located on the estuary of the River Dwyryd and has served as the location for numerous films and television shows, and was 'The Village' in the 1960s television show The Prisoner.
On Thursday, we took a trip on the Llangollen Railway, a preserved railway that is a charitable trust, to Corwen. In the afternoon we travelled to Erddig, a National Trust property on the outskirts of Wrexham. The building was sold to the master of the Chancery, John Meller in 1714. John Meller added two wings in the 1720s, and, on his death in 1733 unmarried and childless, passed it to his nephew, Simon Yorke. The house was passed down through the Yorke family until March 1973, when the last squire Philip Scott Yorke gave it to the National Trust.
Coal mining under the house caused subsidence of 5 feet, which seriously affected the structural security of the house. It was strengthened using the compensation of £120,000 from the National Coal Board. The restoration was completed on 27 June 1977 when Charles, Prince of Wales officially opened Erddig to the public, joking that it was the first time in his, albeit short, life that he had opened something that was already 300 years old.
On Thursday evening, at the hotel, we were entertained by a local chapel Welsh male voice choir. A dozen choir members with excellent voices sang a selection of songs and hymns, most known by the members and many of us joined in the singing.
On Friday, we left Mold and made our way home. Although the weather was a tad cool and a bit damp, everyone agreed that it was a successful, interesting and most enjoyable trip.
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