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Christmas Lunch and visit to Waddesdon Manor

Forty six members enjoyed  a Christmas lunch at the Five Arrows Hotel prior to visiting Waddesdon Manor.  The Manor was beautifully decorated for Christmas based on the theme "Animal Menagerie". In the grounds was a Christmas Market selling a wide variety of products, many hand crafted, and a wide selection of foods and drinks. After dark the front of the house was magically transformed with a Son et Lumiere display and the grounds were dotted with art installations.

Illuminated dragon in the grounds at Waddesdon Manor

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Capability Brown at Compton Verney

By Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK (Compton Verney 1  Uploaded by tm) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Gary Webb, the Head Gardener at Compton Verney, gave a very interesting talk illustrating how Lancelot Capability Brown moulded the landscape of the Park, and how his influence can still be seen to this day. We were introduced to Capability Brown, learning about his career from his humble upbringing to his death when he was mourned by the highest in the land.  We also saw what the Estate was like before Brown arrived, how it has changed since and what is planned for the future.

Lancelot "Capability" Brown

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Stormy clouds on arrival

Hatton Locks walk transformed into a visit to Charlecote
Due to torrential rain and flooded roads the walk around Hatton Locks had to be abandoned.  However, determined to make the most of the day, some members opted to visit Charlecote Park where they enjoyed lunch and an interesting guided tour of the house. 

The sun breaks through later in the day

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Sir John Turner Dryden’s Waistcoats now on display at Canons Ashby

Historic garments are notoriously difficult to display as they are so easily damaged by adverse environmental conditions.  These waistcoats have, for their own protection, been kept in safe storage, unavailable for public viewing.

With the aid of a donation from Rugby National Trust Association, Canons Ashby are now able to display these waistcoats in a protected environment so visitors can enjoy  viewing these historic garments.

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Visit to Renishaw Hall and Gardens

Members enjoyed beautiful weather for their exclusive visit to Renishaw Hall.

Pictures kindly provided by Pauline Springett

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A Beautiful Day at Cottesbrooke Hall

A perfect sunny afternoon greeted members on an enjoyable and interesting visit to Cottesbrooke Hall and Gardens. The guided tour of the house showcased the amazing collection of equestrian art. Tea and cake was provided following the visit to the house, and this was much appreciated on one of the hottest days of the year. Afterwards there was time to explore the gardens and enjoy the beautifully landscaped park 

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A Slow Coach to Stoke Bruerne

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180821 coach[5829].JPG

It was a very good day. We enjoyed the novelty of the old fashioned coach but I think we were all glad to know we will be reverting to a speedier, modern, air conditioned coach for the next trip. 

We had an excellent lunch at The Boat Inn followed by a boat trip through the Blisworth Tunnel with a super commentary about the canal and the tunnel. Aileen organised an outing that was a bit different and much appreciated by all of us who went.

Thanks to Isobel for the story and pictures

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Visit to Hartlebury Castle
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Pictures kindly provided by Pauline Springett

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A Day Out in Windsor
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Pictures kindly provided by Pauline Springett

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Our Victorian Architectural Heritage

Keith Cattell gave a fascinating lecture illustrating the huge variety in the building styles adopted during the "Victorian" era.  To guide us through this period he used bridges to establish a clear timeline. Unlike the myriad of architectural styles, bridge development progressed steadily as engineering capability improved.   


The Iron Bridge over the Severn Gorge. 

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A Journey Requiring a Sense of Humour and a Cast Iron Stomach

Butler 17.10.18 Silk Road - Taldyk Pass

Butler 17.10.18 Silk Road - Taldyk Pass (Gustavo Jeronimo)

Roger Butler brought to life his exciting journey through Nepal, Tibet and Western China, eventually reaching Pakistan. The people he met and the places he visited were illustrated with slides and stories allowing the audience to enjoy spectacular landscapes and culture, without enduring the hardships suffered along the way.

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A Beautifully Illustrated Guide to the Wildlife in Our Gardens

Chris Ward delivered an information packed talk beautifully illustrated with spectacular photographs. Many of the images were received by gasps from the audience, as the close ups of birds and insects revealed a level of detail normally impossible to see. 

We also learnt how to create an environment, in our gardens, that will encourage and support a diverse range of wildlife. Chris also explained the importance of gardens to endangered species, as their natural habitats shrink.


Seven-spot Ladybird - College Lake, nr.

Seven Spot Ladybird    Copyright Chris Ward

Waxwing (no.7) - Woburn, Beds Dec 2010 4

Chris has his own website displaying his considerable skill as a wild life and landscape photographer,  To visit this enjoyable site click on the link below:


Waxwing    Copyright Chris Ward

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Christmas Lunch at Ragley Hall


Members experienced a most enjoyable start to the seasonal festivities with a visit to Ragley Hall. We received a warm welcome as we arrived, with coffee waiting for us in the restaurant.

 Coffee was followed by a tour of the House. We  learnt about the history of the Seymour family and their long association with Ragley Hall. As the Hall is still occupied by the descendants of Henry VIII's third wife it was fascinating to see so many historically significant items remaining. Unusually, we also saw how recent owners continue to make their impression with additions to be enjoyed by future generations.

Following the tour Christmas Lunch was served with good food and good company being enjoyed by all. Finally there was time for a walk in the grounds before boarding the coach for the return journey.


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