Getting out and about in the Vale and beyond.
The 2019 Visits Programme
We visited three contrasting sites over the summer. All were excellent venues and the weather was kind to two of them. The dank morning that greeted our trip to Buckland House was however more than compensated for by the splendours of the interior. The weather was grey and dire for the first but the second and third both coincided with two of the summer’s heatwaves. That at Uffington just missed the hottest day on record and we managed well in temperatures of 30 plus. All the walks were well attended.
June 25th _ Buckland House
This beautiful Palladian mansion had been a target since we first visited its Catholic chapel a few years earlier. Although it was rumoured to be closed to visitors, we tried our luck. Our previous good behaviour seemed to speak in our favour, and we were offered a guided tour for a maximum of 25 people. We obviously owe the owner, Mr Paddy McNally, and his PA Marie Louise a vote of considerable thanks. He also provided his antiques expert Peter Hensher as an excellent and amusing guide. Sadly we were not allowed to take photos inside but our tour was a wonderful view of a very beautifully restored home. Shots of the weather, not too bad, and the exterior are shown below, together with a summer view above from our earlier visit to the grounds.
July 23rd Tom Brown’s Museum and Uffington village and church.
The day was a veritable scorcher but fortunately about half our visit was spent inside the relatively cool church and museum. The museum is small but, like the Tardis, it was amazingly full inside with a rich variety of exhibits. We had two excellent guides for the museum and village tour, and, separately , the church. Both were excellent and managed the conditions well. All of our party lasted the challenge and the day ended with a very welcome and tasty tea and cakes in the church.
August 27th Shaw Church and Shaw House Newbury
We were faced with a degree of traffic chaos en route but all our visitors arrived on time and we enjoyed two contrasting visits. The church that replaced its Saxon predecessor is a rather eclectic Victorian neo-Norman building which was improved by the addition of a chancel by Butterfield. We had a relatively brief visit led by a church administrator.
Our main goal was Shaw House, described by Pevsner as the most intact Tudor manor in Berkshire, which seems a fair description, despite it having formed the centre of a Civil War battle in 1645. This was supposed to be a self-guided tour, but we were lucky in receiving a spontaneous lecture on the building from a very knowledgeable volunteer. It would be fair to say we had an excellent afternoon.
The 2018 visits’ programme was:
.Tuesday June 12th 10.30 – 4.00. A guided tour of the Avebury site was led by archaeologist member Chris Ball, with the option to explore on your own after lunch. Cost was £10. About 12 members attended this visit and considerably enjoyed a tour of the site and visits to the museum .
Tuesday July 10th. 4.00pm – around 6.30. A tour of Kingston Bagpuize House and gardens, guided by the owner. This cost £12 including tea and cakes. The tour included areas of the house not normally shown to regular visitors. This visit was a great success and we were hosted by two expert guides. The weather also made visiting house and gardens an especial pleasure. About 20 members attended. See photos below.
.Tuesday July 31st 6.45 for 7.00. A tour of ‘old’ and present Garford led by Mike Greig. This tour was requested as a result of Mike’s talk to the group earlier in the year. About 20 members enjoyed a tour of the village, a visit to the rarely open church and a walk around the site of Bronze Age Garford. See photos below
- Sadly not enough members booked the proposed trip to Swindon Art Gallery to make it viable. If you have not yet been and like British 20th century art, don’t miss this gem.
The photos above show three views of Kingston Bagpuize House and gardens, and two of the Garford walk and visit to the village church, guided by Mike Greig.
Where did we go before then?