During the Coronavirus epidemic, we plan to keep in touch with members by newsletter, possibly on a monthly basis.  The newsletter will contain articles of interest and if any member has an article, or an idea for one, could they please forward it to Vivian at jvfairbank1974@yahoo.com   We will include it in the next or a future edition of the newsletter.

National Trust Houses near Walsall that are open (Booking required unless stated).

UPDATE: After Thursday 5th November, this information will no longer be valid. Houses will be closed but gardens may remain open. Please check the National Trust website.

PropertyLocation & Post CodeHouse TimesGarden TimesRemarks
Wightwick ManorWolverhamptonWV6 8BN1100-16301000-1700 
ShugboroughMilford. StaffsST17 0UP1130-15000900-1700Private apartments closed. Booking not necessary during weekdays.
Packwood HouseLapworth, WarksB94 6ATTimes vary1000-1700Closed on Thursdays
Baddesley ClintonBaddesley ClintonB93 0DQ1000-16300900-1700Closed Sunday & Monday
Hanbury HallDroitwich SpaWR9 7EA1000-15300930-1700 
Calke AbbeyTicknall, DerbyDE73 7JF1100-16001000-1700 
Coughton CourtAlcesterB49 5JA1000-16000930-1700Closed Monday & Tuesday
Kedleston HallDerbyDE22 5JD1100-16001000-1700Closed Tuesday to Thursday
CroomeWorcesterWR8 9DW1300-16001000-1700 
The Fleece InnBretfortonWR11 7JE1200-2200 Traditional village inn, contact 01386 831173 for further information
Berrington HallLeominsterHR6 0DW1100-16001000-1700Shop and tea room closed at present
Upton HouseBanbury, WarksOX15 6HT1100-15001000-1700 
Snowshill ManorSnowshill, GlosWR12 7JU1130-16301100-1700Priest’s House is closed.
Croft CastleLeominsterHR6 0BL1100-16001000-1700 
Hardwick HallNr Chesterfield,S44 5RW1130-15301000-1700 
Information taken from National Trust website 14 Oct 20

On Line Lectures / Talks

We have received an email from Dianne Mannering, who is a speaker who has presented talks to WNTA in the past. Amongst other subjects she mentioned that some talks are available for individuals to view free of charge on line via the Mirthy website.  She is presenting her talk ‘John Dudley and the Nine Days Queen’ on this website on Thursday 29th October at 5pm.  To see this talk, and any others which are available under this scheme, the web link is https://mirthy.co.uk/talks/  

 You then select the appropriate talk where it says ‘Register for your Free online talk’.  We are not endorsing this site but felt that the talks may be of interest to individuals and look to be available once a week but numbers are limited (so the site says!).  

After the virus

You are free! How about a short trip?

Have a one night (or more) stay and see these amazing places

Only 90 minutes from home you can find yourself at the Kymin, with its 18thcentury roundhouse and Naval Temple which so delighted Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton on their visit in 1802. Bring a picnic and enjoy the panoramic views over the river Wye and the Brecon Beacons.

Then on to Tredegar house, about 40 minutes away. One of the most magnificent country mansion houses in the British Isles, with 90 acres of beautiful gardens and parkland. An afternoon tea will set you up for your drive to Caerphilly, about half an hour away, where you will find somewhere pleasant to stay, I’m sure.

On day two visit Caerphilly castle – not National Trust, I’m afraid, but worth the fee. Built in 1268 it is the biggest castle in Wales and is not, as you might imagine, a ruin. In the 1930’s Lord Bute set about restoring it, at a cost of £100,000 – many millions in today’s money, partly because of his passion for mediaeval buildings but also to provide work for the men of the town, which had been badly affected by the Great Depression.

Then on to Dyffryn Gardens, where a grand Victorian mansion overlooks gardens created in 1906 for the coal magnate John Cory and his son Reginald. Intimate garden rooms, a large glasshouse and an arboretum.

If you can stay longer I recommend the Big Pit National Coal Museum, which is free, Skenfrith Castle(NT), Caerleon Roman Town, Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery and Castell Coch. 


Vivian & John Fairbank

Baddesley Clinton on Channel 4

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Channel 4 has broadcast an excellent series of programmes looking at unusual features of National Trust properties. “George Clarke’s National Trust Unlocked” is a six-part series which looked behind the scenes while the properties were closed to the public.  The priests’ hiding place and other stories from Baddesley Clinton are shown in Episode 5 

George gives us a guided tour inside and outside the house and then visits the priests’ hole which was installed by Nicholas Owen, the most renowned builder of priests’ hiding places.  George was given special permission to climb down into the priests’ hole.  He describes it as the tiniest, skinniest little corridor which at one time hid eight priests for four hours.

 He next visits the library and is shown an entry from a very old book called ‘Antiquities of Warwickshire’.  The story relates how the owner at the time, Nicholas Broome who inherited the manor in 1438, came home to find a priest “chucking his wife under the chin” and promptly stabbed him to death.   

At the time of writing, “George Clarke’s National Trust Unlocked” is still available, streaming on All 4.

John & Kathy Norman


During August we went on holiday with our son, Simon, and his family to Talland Bay in Cornwall and whilst there we visited Lanhydrock. 

Lanhydrock is built of local grey slate and granite around an inner courtyard and dates from 1640. It was the home of Thomas Charles, 2nd Lord Robartes, his wife and their ten children. In 1881 a fire devastated their Jacobean home which was then refurbished in the high-Victorian style. At the time of our visit we were unable to tour the house. 

However we were able to explore the gardens and parkland. Our first shower of the day came when we were wandering around the formal garden and parterre which is dominated by 29 Irish Yew trees which were planted in 1857. 

This caused us to shelter in the 17th century Gatehouse.

The skies cleared and we made our way along an avenue of beech, sycamore and oak trees to the picnic area. However this didn’t last and we finished our picnic under golfing umbrellas! After the rain blew over some of our party stayed there to sun worship and the rest of us went for a walk through the parklands and woods. The estate extends to 900 acres and is well worth a wander with miles of footpaths to choose from to explore the beautiful woodlands and the River Fowey. Our navigation skills deserted us at one point causing us to limbo under fences before meeting up for well-deserved ice creams!  A typically English summer day out with sunshine and showers!

Lilian and Roger Turner

Have you been to any NT sites and how was your experience?

Are there any interesting walks in your area?

How have you coped with lockdown?

We would love to hear the views of members and friends. Please send them to Vivian (e-mail above)