Lunch at the Toby Carvery, Ewell - 26th March 2018
Visit to Wales - April 2018
Walking tour of exotic trees in Surbiton - 16th April 2018
Lunch at The Star, Leather Road, Chessington - August 2018
Trip to Torquay - September 2018
Lunch at The Star, Leather Road, Chessington - January 2017
|Hampton Court Palace and Gardens - April 2017|
|Trip to Norfolk - May 2017|
|Lunch at The Cricketers on Epsom Common - July 2017|
|Trip to Preston - September 2017|
|Pub lunch at the Hare & Hounds, Claygate - 30th October 2017|
Trip to Torquay
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
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 (driven by our usual driver Dave) 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 every 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.
Trip to Preston
On Monday 25th September 2017, 26 0f our members, partners and friends boarded a coach that took us to the Preston area for five days. On the way up there, we stopped at the National Trust property Charlecote Park, near Warwick.
Charlecote is still the family home of the Lucy family after 900 years and whose grounds were landscaped by Lancelot "Capability" Brown. After lunch, we travelled on to Preston International Hotel in Preston where we stayed for the next 4 nights.
On Tuesday, we went by coach to the well known shopping centre in a building that was a 19th century cotton mill. We then left for the National Trust property Rufford Old Hall. Built in about 1530 for Sir Robert Hesketh, only the Great Hall, survives from the original structure. A brick-built wing in the Jacobean style was added in 1661, at right angles to the Great Hall, and a third wing was added in the 1820s. Quite a small house compared to most NT properties but very cosy and homely.
After lunch we then travelled back to the hotel for an early dinner. After dinner, we were taken to Blackpool to see the illuminations.
On Wednesday, we travelled to Haverthwaite, where most of us boarded a steam train for a ride to Lakeside on Lake Windermere. This was then followed by a cruise on the lake to Bowness where we had lunch. The few that wished to went by coach from Haverthwaite direct to Bowness where they spent their time on long walks in the surrounding areas. After lunch, our driver gave us an interesting tour of the area around Windermere before heading back to our hotel.
On the Thursday, we travelled to Liverpool and spent the day at leisure. Members spent happy hours doing the tourist bits of the city, such as a ferry trip across the Mersey to Birkenhead and "the Cavern" night club where the Beatles and other Liverpudlian groups and singers were "discovered". Pictured below are the famous Royal Liver Building and the bronze statues of the "Fab 4" Beatles.
On Friday, we left for home, but stopped for lunch at the National Memorial Arboretum (NMA). The NMA is a national site of remembrance at near Lichfield, Staffordshire, and is a 150 acre arboretum of over 30,000 trees. Scattered throughout the site are memorials to those who have died in the service of our country. Memorials have been put there by various organisations, not only the armed services but also other civil services. It is a place of tranquillity and reflection to people of every faith or none. This shows us at the NMA.
We had a thoroughly enjoyable autumn break and, in Keith's temporary absence, well done to Laurie for the organisation.
On Monday 8th May, 20 of our members, partners and friends boarded a coach that took us to Norfolk for four days.
On the way, we stopped at the National Trust’s Ickworth House, a country house near Bury St. Edmunds that was built as an 18th century Italian-style showcase for the Hervey family’s collections of Georgian silver, Regency furniture, books and fine paintings – the grand central rotunda dominates the landscape.
Ickworth has an impressive Rotunda that was commissioned by the 4th Earl of Bristol to house his priceless treasures collected on tours around Europe in the 18th century. The craftsmanship of the silverware collection is amazing, and has many outstanding portraits by Gainsborough, Hogarth and Reynolds.After lunch, we continued our journey to the Wensum Valley Golf and Country Club where we stayed for the next 3 nights.
On Tuesday, we went to Aylsham where we boarded a train on the Bure Valley narrow gauge railway.
Bure Valley is Norfolk’s longest narrow gauge railway, running between Aylsham and the town of Wroxham, at the heart of the Norfolk Broads.
The 18 mile trip runs through the pretty Bure Valley countryside following the meandering River Bure through meadowland. Along the line were wayside halts serving the villages of Brampton, Buxton and Coltishall.
When we arrived at Wroxham, the coach was there to transport us to the town centre. After a leisurely lunch and stroll around we boarded the “Belle of the Broads” boat for a 90 minute tour of the river and surrounding Broads.
A full commentary from the skipper explained the origins of the Broads, identifying points of interest along the way and showed us local water birds as they came into view. It was a bit cold on the boat but happily the bar provided hot drinks to help us enjoy the scenery. We then went back to the hotel.
On Wednesday, we went to Norwich where a Blue Badge guide gave us a fascinating guided coach tour of the city. We then went to Sandringham for lunch and a tour of the house, church and gardens.
In 1862, the hall was purchased by Queen Victoria at the request of the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII) as a home for himself and his bride, Princess Alexandra. Two years after moving in, the prince found the hall's size insufficient for his needs, and he created a larger building. The resulting red-brick house was completed in late 1870 in a mix of styles. The building was ahead of its time in amenities, with gas lighting, flushing water closets, and an early form of shower. Sandringham House has been the private home of four generations of the British Royal Family. Along with Balmoral Castle, Sandringham House is the private property of the British royal family and not part of the Crown Estate.
At dinner that night we decided we’d have a group photo.
On Thursday, early in the morning, our holiday co-ordinator Keith Waller was sadly taken ill and was admitted to Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. The others in our party went back to Norwich where we were able to tour the city at our leisure before going on to Lavenham to visit the National Trust owned Guildhall.
Lavenham is one of the UK's most beautiful medieval villages located in the heart of Suffolk. It is noted for its 15th century church, half-timbered medieval cottages and circular walk.
Lavenham has over 320 buildings of historic significance including Lavenham Guildhall, otherwise known as the Guildhall of Corpus Christi, is possibly one of the best examples of them all.
In the 16th-century this picturesque village was the 14th wealthiest town in Britain, paying more tax than populous cities such as York and Lincoln, thanks to the quality of its renowned blue woollen cloth, which was in great demand.
However, by 1525 the bubble had burst. The demise of the cloth trade, for which Lavenham was famed, meant that the merchants had left looking for their next new venture. The local population was unable to maintain the timber-framed buildings, which had previously been funded by the enormous wealth created by the cloth trade and the buildings began to crumble. It is lucky that the Guildhall and other building of the same era are still standing.
In the late 18th century, the village was home to poet Jane Taylor, where she wrote the poem The Star, from which the lyrics for the nursery rhyme Twinkle Twinkle Little Star are taken.
A brilliant mini-break and well done again to Keith for organising it.
Hampton Court Visit
On Friday 7th April, some members of Surbiton Probus Club visited Hampton Court Palace where they had a tour of the Palace and Gardens led an experienced London guide, Graham Harvey.
We met at the Palace at 11am and started the tour of the Palace, where Graham showed us the best parts. We entered through the main gate into Base Court and on into Henry VIII’s Great Hall, the Great Watching Chamber, his Council Chamber and into the gallery of the Chapel Royal. A copy of his crown is on display in the Chapel Royal. In addition we saw the rooms of William III’s apartments, the Mantegna Gallery and the Tudor Kitchens.
The Great Hall Detail of the Chapel Royal ceiling
We had lunch at the Tiltyard Café, after which some members left for home. The rest of us then had a tour of the various gardens of the Palace.
Members and partners in the gardens
Graham’s outstanding knowledge of the history and layout of the Palace provided us with a fantastic visit experience.
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