10th May 2018
There is so much to do at this magnificent palace that it is difficult to fit everything into a full day’s visit. Our members had the opportunity to explore the many walks in beautiful grounds, join guided tours of the lavish staterooms, discover the detailed history of Sir Winston Churchill or enjoy the formal and informal gardens. There are also buggy rides available and a train from the house to the pleasure gardens.
Blenheim is famous for its huge tapestries. The Duke of Marlborough commissioned the tapestries from weavers in Brussels to commemorate his success at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704 and other victories in the campaign. They were all designed to fit each state room exactly. Our guide, Norman, a very dapper gentleman, gave us a full and entertaining history, laced with humour, of the Dukes of Marlborough.
The train ride took us to the pleasure gardens where a visit to the butterfly house was an unexpected delight. Thank you David for arranging a memorable visit
St Fagans and Cardiff Waterfront
13th June 2018
On Wednesday 13th June in fine weather we set off to visit one of Wales’s top attractions, the Open Air Museum of St. Fagans. The Museum is located in the grounds of St. Fagans castle and gardens. The land and castle had been donated to the people of Wales in 1948 by the Earl of Plymouth. The buildings in the museum had been collected from all over Wales where they had been dismantled and then reassembled in the museum. The resultant exhibits range from the Celtic period to the present. Along with traditional crafts and activities on display there is enough to engage your attention for many days, however we left the site late afternoon to see the revamped waterfront at Cardiff Bay. The waterfront is an attractive location and contains the homes of the Millennium Centre, the National opera, Orchestra, Theatre and dance companies. We enjoyed a meal here and enjoyed walking around absorbing the sites and eventually reboarded the coach for our return to Walsall.
25th July 2018
Waddesdon Manor never fails to impress with its long drive and its fantastic French Renaissance architecture. The journey, on a comfortable coach, was excellent and the weather very sunny and warm. Forty-seven of us enjoyed coffee or tea with biscuits in a private part of the Manor Restaurant. Timed entrances to the house had been organised for us. The exquisite interiors filled with porcelain, art, and furniture, are internationally famous and admired by thousands of visitors every year. The parterre, terrace and fountains, beautifully maintained gardens, together with the aviary were all explored and enjoyed by everyone. A wonderful day’s outing.
Speke Hall and Liverpool
18th August 2018
Fifty-three people completely filled the coach to Speke Hall on a lovely warm sunny day. The journey was slow due to a 50mph speed restriction for nearly all the length of the motorway.
Once there, all went well! Someone came on to the coach to welcome us and explain where we would find the main places. From then on the time available could be spent as we wished. The restaurant managed to accommodate everyone. We all found the hall beautiful and very interesting. Some managed the gardens and woodland as well.
We spent about an hour and a half at the Albert Dock as the cathedral could not have us in the end. It gave us time for tea and cake.
Welshpool and Bryngwyn Hall
September 11th 2018
After a very warm and sunny summer we got up to rain for our trip to Welshpool and Bryngwyn Hall. Fortunately, by the time we reached Welshpool the rain had stopped and we had and two and a half hours to do some retail therapy and have lunch. We then drove the 10 miles to Bryngwyn Hall, where the sun was shining, and were met by the owner, Lady Linlithgow, who told us her family history. We then split into 2 groups. Lady Linlithgow took half of us on a tour of the ground floor of the house, while Andrea, the head gardener took the other half round the grounds. We learnt that there had been a house on the site since 1560. In 1773 the present house was designed, but since then has suffered from fire and neglect as the family’s fortunes fluctuated. The present Lady Linlithgow’s parents moved back into the house in the 1960’s. It has been Lady Linlithgow’s passion to restore the house and grounds and she has been working on this since the 1990’s. The gardens were immaculate and included a very interesting poison garden, which Andrea, the head gardener showed us with enthusiasm. After we had all seen the house and gardens we were treated to a marvellous afternoon tea, consisting of a large variety of sandwiches and homemade cakes. A good day was had by all.
If you want to know more about Bryngwyn, there is a very good BBC2 programme: The Curious Country House Guest, all about Bryngwyn, available on BBC iplayer. It is Series 1 episode 6. (Put in a search for ‘Curious’ and it should appear). Also, those who went on the car outing to Chavenage, where they film Poldark, might be interested in Series 1, episode 1. Please be aware that this series was first broadcast in 2005 and the Chavenage programme shows the Beaufort hunt. (Fox hunting was banned in the same year.)
Afternoon tea at Bryngwn
Stratford and Coughton Court
18th October 2018
The visit was very successful, helped by wonderful autumn sunshine. We had about two and a half hours in Stratford so that some people visited Shakespeare’s birthplace, some Holy Trinity church to see his grave and memorial, some walked along the river and some others went to the lovely shops in the town.
In the afternoon we made our way to Coughton and again we were fortunate that we could stroll round the gardens in the sun as well as visiting this most interesting house.
Waddesdon Christmas Carnival
The Christmas visit to Waddesdon was well supported and the house looked very impressive as we arrived in dry conditions. Unfortunately, the fine, mild weather was not to last all day. Inside the house the displays are inspired from the festivals and celebrations associated with Waddesdon’s artworks – from sumptuous feasts, lavish gifts and masked balls to theatre, fancy dress and fairy tales. Beautifully decorated trees were in every room.
The Christmas market in front of the house consisted of 80 wooden chalets, selling a good range of Christmas goods. Some of our members were impressed by the light projections, created by students from the Guildhall School, on the walls of the Stables. Perhaps the food outlets had not planned adequately for the numbers attending but even the rain could not dampen our Christmas spirits.