2018-19 programme

All talks, presentations and meetings are open to visitors and are held in the Cramphorn Theatre, Fairfield Road, starting at 7.45 pm. There is no need to book but there is a nominal charge of £3 for members and £5 for visitors, payable on the night.

All outings leave from outside the theatre. Group members will have received booking terms and instructions with their Newsletter.

Parking is via Coval Lane only. Charges apply but there is an alternative car park next to the County Hotel which is free in the evenings and at weekends.

Click any event for details.

Annual General Meeting

The agenda for our AGM is as follows:

  1. A drawing of a microphoneApologies for absence
  2. Minutes of the last meeting
  3. Matters arising
  4. Chairman’s report
  5. Treasurer’s report
  6. Centre funding of NT projects
  7. Election of President and Vice President
  8. Election of Committee
  9. Election of Honorary Examiner of Accounts
  10. Any other business

After the AGM John Frankland will tell us the fascinating story of William Potter. You may not have heard of William Potter but that does not matter!

The history of the handbag

A pink handbag 
Come and learn the history of Maggie’s favourite accessory from Sarah Shehadeh.

Outing to Kentwell Hall

A large Tudor country house with large chimneysThe “Tudor Days” at Kentwell Hall are unrivalled in scale. Visitors are able to immerse themselves in the sights, sounds and smells of the 16th century. Kentwell is the originator of historical, live Tudor events, started over 30 years ago. We will be able to experience life on a community scale as the entire historic house and estate are transformed into a 16 th century Manor, with up to 200 inhabitants of all ages, skills and wealth, carrying out a huge variety of daily tasks. There will be music, dancing, plays, pageantry and processions with costumed “Tudors”. The gardens will be festooned with blossom and spring bulbs in over 10 acres of garden, ponds and woodland. On the farm there will be lambs, chicks and piglets, along with the sheep, cows, pigs, goats and horses. Homemade lunches and teas will be available in the Stable yard.

President’s event

We visit Coggeshall at our President’s invitation. Details to follow.

Outing to Chiltern Museum and Ascott Park

A red kiteThe Chiltern Open Air Museum

The Museum was founded in 1976 with the intended mission of rescuing threatened historic buildings from the Chilterns to preserve them for future generations. To date 35 buildings have be rescued and re-erected, spanning 2,000 years of Chiltern history and architecture. The buildings include an Iron Age round House, Medieval and Tudor barns, buildings from a working Victorian Farm, a toll house, forge, a tin chapel and a vicarage room. From more modern times there is a prefab, and a nissan hut. The charity receives no regular funding/grants, but is doing tremendous work with the aid of over 200 volunteers, and has several more projects which will be worked on in due course. The Furniture Factory Tea Room serves jacket potatoes, soup, sandwiches, tea, coffee and Chiltern beers.

Ascott House and Park

The House is a rambling Victorian brick and Jacobean half-timbered house, the core of it being an old farm house, thought to date from 1606. It has been much enlarged to make a substantial Edwardian country house, and now houses a fine collection of Chinese porcelain, beautiful furniture, and paintings. It was donated to the NT in 1949 by Anthony de Rothschild, together with the Ascott Collection, and remains the country residence of the de Rothschild family

The gardens are a mixture of formal and informal, with fountains, sculptures, colourful displays of bedding plants and architectural hedging. The Park is mainly grass land, with many magnificent specimen trees, including oaks, cedars and horse chestnuts. There is a tea room selling light refreshments and lunches.

Outing to Lamport and Kelmarsh Halls

Lamport Hall and Gardens

The Hall has been the home of the Isham family for over 4 centuries. The members have been very varied, from the Tudor founder, to a blind book collector, a wayward 17th century grand tourist, an eccentric Victorian, a Hollywood actor, “commanding” wives, and dedicated daughters, who have all left their mark. The Hall was developed from a Tudor manor house, and has many fine rooms containing a wealth of outstanding furniture, books, china and paintings. Despite many very difficult times in the past, and years of poor maintenance and varied usage, it is a tribute to the determination of the family, and now the Lamport Hall Preservation Trust, to carry on the restoration programme of the Hall and Estate, ensuring Lamport’s survival for the enjoyment of the visitors. The gardens, as they are today, are the work of Mary, Lady Isham, and later her son, Sir Charles. There are extensive herbaceous borders, and shrubbery walks containing rare and interesting plants. The large walled “cutting garden” is thought to be the largest in England, and is filled with a vibrant array of colour and variety. Tea/coffee biscuits on arrival.

Kelmarsh Hall and Gardens

The Hall was built for the Hanbury family in the 1730s, designed by architect James Gibbs.A redbrick country house It was praised by historian Nikolaus Pevsner as, “a perfect, extremely reticent design, done in an impeccable taste”. In later years members of the Lancaster family left their mark on the Hall, particularly society decorator Nancy Lancaster, whose spirit still pervades the house today in the delicate terracotta colouring of the Great Hall, the exuberant Chinese wallpaper and seasonal flower arrangements. Her taste was to combine comfort with formality, which set the trend for the 20th century’s “Country House” look. The gardens were also largely inspired by Nancy, with the help of Norah Lindsay, a talented garden designer of the day. Geoffrey Jellicoe was responsible for laying out the formal terrace. There is a sunken garden, a 60 metre long border, and a triangular shaped walled garden containing fruit trees, vegetables, and ‘cut flower’ beds, as well as a restored vinery. Light lunches, home-made cakes, and drinks are available in the tea room.

Outing to Sissinghurst and Great Dixter

Sissinghurst Castle and Gardens

A narrow garden path between low hedges and two tall trimmed yew treesThis world-famous garden, created by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson, needs little introduction. Vita wrote, “The heavy golden sunshine enriched the old brick with a kind of patina, and made the tower cast a long shadow across the grass, like the finger of a gigantic sundial veering slowly with the sun. Everything was hushed and drowsy and silent but for the coo of the white pigeons”.

For those who are visiting the garden for the first time it will be a journey of discovery, as each part of the garden reveals itself. For those who have been to see it many times, look out for the rose growing against the wall of the South Cottage. It is called Mme Alfred Carriere, and was the first thing that Vita and Harold planted together, on the day their offer to buy was accepted. In April 1930, Harold recorded in his diary the moment he and Vita decided to buy Sissinghurst – “We came suddenly upon the Nut Walk, and that settled it.” Today, the Kentish cob nut trees create a shady haven for birds and visitors alike.

When the White Garden was created, it was Harold who chose the white gladioli, white irises, white pompom dahlias and white Japanese anemones, as well as the famous white roses. The gazebo in the orchard was built in memory of Harold in 1969.

So many of their treasured items, displayed for visitors to admire, capture the essence of the two people who created such a beautiful garden together. Lunches in the restaurant include vegetables grown on site. Hot and cold drinks, and cakes are served all day.

Great Dixter House and Gardens

Great Dixter was the family home of gardener and writer Christopher Lloyd. The first glimpse of the house reveals a large expanse of tiled roof and a timber porch, which suggests great age, but in fact it is two older houses with a Lutyens designed addition to the left of the porch. Visitors are able to see the Great Hall, the Solar and the Parlour. Most of the garden structure was also designed by Lutyens. Christopher Lloyd grew to love gardening, watching and helping his mother, Daisy, who introduced him to Gertrude Jekyll. He developed a style of planting which, to a large extent, tended to break many of the previously accepted rules. He took great delight in mixing plants of all kinds together, putting flowers of clashing colours next to each other, which in his hands somehow “worked”. He got a reputation for trying other challenging combinations, creating amazing structural statements, and beautiful contrasting foliage arrangements. In all this, he was very ably assisted by a young man, Fergus Garrett. Today, Fergus is Head Gardener, still planting the garden after Christopher Lloyd’s style, using new combinations, but essentially still ‘pushing the boundaries’ as they once did together. The spirit of originality lives on.

Refreshments are on sale in the open-sided loggia, and include baguettes, quiches, teas, coffee and cakes.

Group holiday in Devon

A river side town

3 September
We travel by coach with comfort stops on the journey visiting Montacute House during the afternoon before arriving at our hotel.
4 September
Less travelling today - we will visit Knightshayes in the morning and Killerton in the afternoon.
5 September
We take a tour of the north coast visiting Lynmouth and Lynton and then Arlington Court.
6 September
We visit Powderham Castle near Exeter and then spend the later part of the afternoon in Exeter.
7 September
Depart for home visiting Barrington Court in the morning before proceeding for home.

Talk on Markets, Mildmay and Marconi

A blue plaque commemorating the first radio broadcast by Marconi
 A talk by Yvonne Lawrence.

Outing to Wimpole EstateFully booked

The original building was constructed between 1640 and 1670, and extended in 1713 to 1721, with other additions and improvements over the years. In 1938, Captain George and Mrs Elsie Bambridge bought Wimpole, almost entirely empty of contents. Over the next 40 years they slowly furnished and decorated the house. They sought out pieces that were once housed at Wimpole, two highlights being the 1780s State Bed, and the Cows in a fieldexquisite gilded sofas that had been made specially to fit the curved walls of Sir John Soane’s Yellow Drawing Room, which was the setting for Queen Victoria’s reception in 1843. As well as many beautiful formal rooms, the basements give a wonderful example of life below stairs, where bells would ring among the hustle and bustle, mixed with the smells of food being cooked in the kitchen.

Outside there are the Pleasure Grounds, a Walled garden, a Parterre, Parkland and Woodland Belts to explore. The Home Farm is one of the largest Rare Breed Centres, set in an 18 th century, and a modern farm yard, containing Shire horses, Longhorn and White Park cattle, pigs, sheep, Shetland ponies and goats. Daily events include pig feeding, meet rabbits and shire horses, and watch donkey grooming. For the more energetic there is an adventure play ground - no age restrictions as far as we know!

The Old Rectory Restaurant serves light lunches or a three-course meal. The Farm café sells drinks and snacks, and the Stable Kitchen provides light lunches, drinks and ice creams.

Estimated cost: £17.50

Talk on Chelmsford’s SuffragettesPay on the door

A woman sitting at a desk behind a sign telling people to register to vote title=
Chelmsford had its own Suffragettes, supporters and nationally-known visitors to the town.

A talk by Stephen Norris

Talk on Essex country housesPay on the door

A view over a river and a brick bridge towards a large country house 
A talk by Ben Cowell, Director General of the Historic Houses Association.

Talk on Henry VIII and his six wivesPay on the door

Computer image of a woman in a pink Tudor dress
A talk by Tony Strange.

“From Crossbow to CrossRail”Pay on the door

A crossbow
A talk by Marit Leenstra on the archaeology of a major transport project.

Talk on the history of spoken EnglishPay on the door

A bearded man in Saxon dress 
A talk by Charlie Haydock.

Annual General MeetingPay on the door

A drawing of a microphone 
Followed by an exciting update by the Hatfield Forest Team.

“My journey as a designer”Pay on the door

A pair of scissors
A talk by Amanda Sutherland, fashion designer.