At the end of November members and friends spent a full day at the annual Christmas Market in Canterbury. This provided the opportunity to browse around 40 decorated stalls near the Historic Cathedral as well as the busy local shopping centre close to Cathedral founded in the 6th century and renown following the martyrdom of Archbishop Thomas Becket.
In August members and friends enjoyed a free-flow visit to Arundel Castle, the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk and founded shortly after the Norman conquest. The castle is the longest inhabited country house in England. Many original Norman features have survived, but in the late Victorian period the house was completely rebuilt in the Gothic style.
The free-flow visit enabled the group to explore the gardens at their leisure, including the Earl’s Garden with it water fountains, the Italianate terraces the Rose garden and the restored Victorian Vine House.
In April members and friends spent the morning in Cranbrook for lunch and an opportunity to explore the picturesque market town which includes St Dunstan’s church, often known as “The Cathedral of the Weald” because of its size and the George Hotel, a late medieval inn where Queen Elizabeth is said to have been received in 1573.
In the afternoon the group moved on to Hole Park Garden with its colourful gardens and 200 acres of classic parkland. Hole Park has extensive fine lawns and a spectacular spring displays of daffodils rhododendrons and azaleas. The group was able to enjoy the display of bluebells on the woodland walk and to see the recently crafted carving of bears. The day concluded with a delicious cream tea.
In August members and friends had full day’s visit to the historic city of St Edmunds which boasts many places of historic interest, particularly the church of St James founded in the 12th Century, which in 1914 became St. Edmundsbury Cathedral, the Abbey Gate and the Norman Tower. The adjacent Abbey Gardens, created within the walls of the former medieval monastery, provided a glorious mixture of formal bedding displays and quiet corners.
In the busy town centre there are several places of interest such as the Nutshell, the smallest public house in the country, the Suffolk Regiment Museum and Moyse’s Hall the town museum and one of the last Norman houses in Britain. En route the party stopped in the market town of Sudbury, birthplace of the painter Thomas Gainsborough.
In May members and friends had a full day’s visit to Borde Hill’s award winning garden located near Haywards Heath. The garden nestles in 200 acres of English Heritage grade II woodland and parkland.
Borde Hill includes 17 acres of formal “garden rooms” overlooked by an Elizabethan mansion dating from 1598. The garden rooms each have their own distinctive character and style, such as an Azalea Ring, Rose Garden and Italian Garden complete with a fountain. The visitors were able to enjoy the seasonal displays of early flowering magnolias, camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas. In the afternoon the party had the benefit of a guided tour of the mansion.
In December members and friends spent a full day at the annual Christmas Market in St Albans. They had the opportunity to browse around the more than 60 stalls in traditional wooden chalets outside the Cathedral as well as the busy city centre adjacent to the 11th century Cathedral
Chiltern Open Air Museum Bekonscot Model Village & Model Railway
In August members and friends had a morning visit to Chiltern Open Air Museum which is a unique 45 acre site where over 30 historic buildings have been rescued and rebuilt. Buildings include a 1940’s Prefab, A Sewell Nissen Hut RAF Briefing Room, a Victorian Toll House, a Blacksmith’s Forge, 18th and 20th Century Cottages, Agricultural Barns & Granaries as well as a reconstructed Iron Age Roundhouse.
In the afternoon the party moved on to the Bekonscot Model Village and Railway at Beaconsfield which was established in 1929 and depicts rural England during the 1930’s and is the oldest model village in the world. Its Gauge 1 railway is the largest and most complex in Great Britain.
In April members and their friends had a full day’s visit to Blenheim Palace, the 18th Century baroque masterpiece of Sir John Vanbrugh. They had a free flow visit of the palace which is the historic home of the Duke of Marlborough and the birthplace in 1874 of Sir Winston Churchill. During their visit to the palace visitors had the opportunity to see a temporary exhibition of the work by the Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei in some of the state rooms and a magnificent chandelier in the main entrance hall. Members and friends were also able to explore some of the 2,000 acres of Parkland and Formal Gardens landscaped by “Capability “Brown in which Blenheim is situated.
In August Centre members and friends had a day’s visit to Penshurst Place, the 14th Century ancestral home of the Sidney family. They had a free-flow visit around the House which is a patchwork of different designs and architecture over the centuries and include the 60ft. high-vaulted Baron’s Hall, the State Dining Room, 17th Century Tapestry Room and the Queen Elizabeth I Room. The gardens, often considered to be one of the most beautiful in England are a series of “rooms” each with its own seasonal colour and planting. Of particular note is the Union Flag Garden in roses and lavender.
Ely Cathedral In May the Centre members and friends visited the ancient cathedral city of Ely and took the opportunity of visiting the ancient Cathedral. Some also visited Oliver Cromwell’s house where he lived for over ten years whilst others relaxed by the River Ouse. After lunch members and friends explored Anglesey Abbey now converted into an Elizabethan Manor House, its working watermill and the extensive gardens with captivating views.
In May the Centre members and friends visited the ancient cathedral city of Ely and took the opportunity of visiting the ancient Cathedral. Some also visited Oliver Cromwell’s house where he lived for over ten years whilst others relaxed by the River Ouse. After lunch members and friends explored Anglesey Abbey now converted into an Elizabethan Manor House, its working watermill and the extensive gardens with captivating views.
In August 2013 Centre members and friends had an all-day visit to Brooklands Museum located on the world’s first purpose-built motor racing circuit .They had the opportunity to wander through the extensive exhibition of record-breaking racing cars, the London Bus Museum operated by the London Bus Preservation Trust as well as the varied collection of civil and military aircraft. Many of the group took the opportunity to crown their visit by taking a 30-minute virtual flight on Concorde Regn. No. G-BBDG and receive a certificate to prove it!
Emmetts Garden and
In May 2013 Centre members and friends went in the morning to the National Trust property of Emmetts Garden where they were able to tour the garden with its examples of exotic and rare trees and shrubs from around the world as well as the enclosed rose and rock gardens. The
RHS Garden Hyde Hall
In August 2012 Centre members and their friends went to the
Lewes Castle Anne of Cleves House
In May 2012 the Centre went to the historic town of
Layer Marney Tower and Gardens
In August 2011 members and friends of the Centre had a free-flow visit to Marks Hall Gardens and Arboretum followed in the afternoon by a guided tour of the Layer Marney Tower which has Britain's tallest Tudor gatehouse. The visit included a climb of the tower which provided stunning views of the Essex countryside. The day concluded with a cream tea in the Long Gallery of Layer Marney Tower.
In May 2011the Centre visited the Historic Naval Dockyard,Chatham which provided an opportunity to explore former naval ships including the World War II Destroyer HMS Cavalier and the cold war spy submarine, Ocelot as well as viewing the extensive collection of lifeboats. The all-day visit enabled Centre members and their friends to visit the whole dockyard site and to see a demonstration of rope making in the Victorian Ropery building.
Scotney Castle, May 2010
Dover Castle, August 2010
In May 2010 the Centre visited Scotney Castle, Kent followed by a boat trip on nearby Bewl Water. In August 2010 the Centre went to Dover Castle where the visit included viewing the restoration of the Great Tower in 12th Century style as well as the World War I & II areas with their Secret Tunnels.
During 2009 the Centre went in May to