Visits Programme

1st February 2018

Monochrome: Painting in Black and White

At the National Gallery Sainsbury Wing, see colour differently in the first major exhibition to explore art in black and white.
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  For any visit queries please contact the Visits Secretaries Charles & Sally Barker-Dodds

Previous Visits

22nd June 2017

Tetbury - Chavenage House

A 16th century historic house on a site occupied since the 1300's. Occupants included Thomas Seymour and his wife Katherine Parr and Colonel Nathaniel Stevens who, cursed by his daughter, died soon after giving rise to a ghost story. The house had been used in many films and television series, most recently ‘Poldark' and we were shown round by the current family who have occupied the property since 1891.

Westonbirt Arboretum

We had a special guided walk to learn about and enjoy the huge variety of trees and shrubs from all over the world, collected since 1850. We also had the opportunity to try the tree-top walk which offered spectacular views across the arboretum.

6th April 2017

Wells - Cathedral and Bishop's Palace

This was an opportunity to visit England's smallest city to enjoy two of its greatest treasures. Wells Cathedral, described as 'the most poetic of the English Cathedrals', dates from the 12th century and unique features include the beautiful inverted arches supporting the central tower and one of the largest collections of historic stained glass in the country.

After a break for lunch we visited the stunning medieval Bishop's Palace for a guided tour of the interior. Home to the Bishops of Bath and Wells for over 800 years it is acknowledged to be the most impressive historic bishop's house still in use in England. It contains a beautifully vaulted Undercroft, a Long Gallery, the Bishop's private chapel and a splendid ruined Great Hall.

19th October 2016

Cheltenham & Gloucester: Everyman Theatre & Nature in Art Gallery

imageWe began with a tour of the Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham. The main auditorium is an architectural masterpiece designed by the pioneering Victorian architect Frank Matcham which has inspired generations of performers. We discovered the rich history of the Theatre and saw what a day in the life of a working theatre was like. Our tour took us on stage, into the wings and showed us the star dressing rooms.

imageThe afternoon was spent at the Nature-in-Art gallery, dedicated to fine, decorative and applied art inspired by nature. The growing collection is housed in a fine 18th c Georgian mansion. Spanning 1500 years, displays embrace work in all mediums and styles from across the globe. The collection contains the best creations of 600 artists from over 50 countries.

8th June 2016

Chichester: Parham House & ‘John Piper Textiles', at Pallant House Gallery

Our day began with a private tour, before it opens to the general public, of Parham House and its beautiful gardens. At the Pallant House Gallery we had a talk on the John Piper Textiles exhibition.

18th April 2016

V&A, Science Museum

botticelliWe saw the Clockmaker's Collection and the Museum's Measuring Time gallery provide us with access to a remarkable horological collection spanning the 16th to 21st centuries. After lunch we had a talk on Botticelli Reimagined, followed by timed entry to the Botticelli exhibition

22nd September 2015

West Sussex

imageWe visited Highdown Vinyard for a tour and tasting of three of their wines followed by an included sandwich lunch. We then visited St. Mary's House and Gardens in Bramber. Built around 1470 the house is charming and has furniture and paintings from the 16th to 18th centuries. The 5 acres of gardens were a real delight and the visit ended with tea and biscuits.

23rd June 2015

Stratfield Saye

imageTo celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo our visit was to the elegant, but intimate, Stratfield Saye House, which has been home to the Dukes of Wellington since 1817. The house and gardens offered an intriguing and informative insight into the life of the Great Duke of Wellington. We toured the house to view the fascinating collection of paintings and furniture as well as the wonderful Wellington Exhibition.

26th March 2015

The British Library

imageWe visited the British Library and the Wellcome Collection. Among the astonishing items on display were Gutenberg's Bible of 1455, Leonardo da Vinci's notebook, Shakespeare's First Folio, the handwritten original version of ‘Alice in Wonderland', the Diamond Sutra – the world's earliest dated book, early/first editions by Dickens, Jane Austen and many more.

25th September 2014

Royal Naval Dockyard

imageWe visited the Royal Naval Dockyard in Portsmouth including the new Mary Rose Museum, Spinnaker Tower to get a birdseye view of the area and HMS Victory. The visit included coffee and lunch.

19th June 2014

Poole and Mapperton House

imageWe enjoyed an interesting and informative boat trip round Poole Harbour in glorious sunshine. This was followed by time to visit Poole Pottery to watch master potters and painters at work and view the Poole Pottery Collection.

In the afternoon we visited Mapperton House, a charming Jacobean Manor for a private tour. We were then able to wander in the Italianate Garden and appreciate its grottoes, stone ornamental birds, animals and fountains as well as the Orangery.

23rd April 2014

The Cheapside Hoard

imageTo The Museum of London to visit The Cheapside Hoard jewellery exhibition. There was a talk on how the hoard of jewels was discovered and what it says about the jewellery trade in London in 17th Century. This was followed by a visit to the exhibition.

28th November 2013

Australia Exhibition

Exhibition at The Royal Academy with time for Christmas shopping


Marking the first major survey of Australian art in the UK for 50 years, this exhibition spanned more than 200 years from 1800 to the present day and uncovered the fascinating social and cultural evolution of a nation through its art. Two hundred works including painting, drawing, photography, watercolours and multimedia shed light on a period of rapid and intense change; from the impact of colonisation on an indigenous people, to the pioneering nation building of the 19th century through to the enterprising urbanisation of the last 100 years.

18th September 2013

Badminton House


We were shown around the large private country house, belonging to The Duke of Beaufort. The family moved from Raglan Castle, which was ruined in the English Civil War.

William Kent designed the house in the Palladian style. The sport of badminton, introduced from India, was popular at the house. Queen Mary stayed at Badminton House for much of WWII.

20th June 2013

Arundel Castle

imageArundel Castle is a restored medieval castle, which has been the seat of the Duke of Norfolk for over 400 years. The castle is a great example of the Motte and Bailey that we all learned about at school!

imageWe had a free flow tour through the Castle rooms, including the bedrooms and the Fitzalan Howard Chapel.

22nd April 2013

Skinners' Hall and British Museum, London

imageFollowing our lecture in March 2013 on The Great Twelve Livery Companies we visited the Skinners' Hall in the City. A guided tour took us around the richly decorated rooms, including the Banqueting Hall, which is panelled with Frank Brangwyn's large paintings.

The skinners or furriers were in much demand in medieval times – Royalty and aristocrats enjoyed ermine and sable, while down the scale, people had to make do with less valuable furs, such as rabbit or cat!

imageIn the morning we visited the British Museum for the Life and Death: Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibition. This stunning exhibition explored the daily life of the Roman Empire before the catastrophe that befell this area in the Bay of Naples in AD79.

11th October 2012

Royal Pavilion, Brighton and Farley Farm House, Sussex

We had a successful visit to George IV's pleasure palace in Brighton. The building was a riot of gilt and bright decoration, all very flamboyant. Many of the rooms featured dragons and snakes - which is considered an unlucky combination in Chinese circles! A highlight was the lovely exhibition about Princess Charlotte, George IV's daughter, who tragically died after giving birth. Had she become queen our history might have been quite different.

After lunch we travelled to Farley Farm House, the former home of Roland Penrose and Lee Miller. Their son Antony, as an Arts Society lecturer, had given us a wonderful talk in Salisbury a few days earlier. He told us such moving stories of his father Roland, a Surrealist painter and poet, and of his mother, Lee, who had been a Vogue model, then a WWII photographer. Farley Farm was a meeting house for many artists during the 1950s onwards - such as key figures of Modern Art, Picasso, Man Ray, Max Ernst, Joan Miro. The house was left as it was in the 1950s/1960s and we could imagine Lee Miller concocting her wacky culinary dishes in the kitchen and Roland Penrose painting his wonderful fireplace mural in the dining room.

18th June 2012

An Architectural View of London from the Thames

After a lecture in Salisbury from Anthea Streeter on London's Changing Skyline, a visit was arranged on the river Thames.

We arrived at Butler's Wharf and had time to linger in this regenerated area of wharves and warehouses. The district has now been converted into desirable apartments and many fine restaurants, as well as housing the Design Museum.

We were fortunate to be cruising on the MV Edwardian, a luxury river craft which had carried the Academy of Ancient Music on the river for the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. On our visit we had somewhat better weather! Lunch was enjoyed on board on the large sundeck as we travelled up to Battersea and spotted many of the buildings that Anthea had mentioned in her lecture.

Brian Wheeler, one of our guests, gave us a short talk on his tenure as Master of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen. He explained the history of the livery company and the role of the men who worked on the river.



City Hall


Fishmonger's Hall


Southwark Cathedral


St Paul's Cathedral and the famous 'wobbly bridge'


The Globe Theatre


The 'Shard'


Tower Bridge, showing the attached Olympic Rings


Relaxing in the sun


More relaxing!

29th March 2012

Inwood House

We had a very enjoyable afternoon at the home of Count Richard de Pelet. He showed us around his house in Dorset, which was a treasure trove of family furniture, paintings, porcelain, and collectables. With the knowledge from his career at Christie's and from his personal family acquisitions, he guided us through the history of the house and its wonderful treasures. We sat down in the dining room where his wife, Isabel, provided 35 of us with a magnificent traditional tea - sandwiches, scones, flapjacks, cakes. Our two hosts couldn't have been kinder and more hospitable. After tea there was an opportunity to climb to the top of the tower at Inwood House, providing wonderful clear views of the surrounding countryside.

17th November 2011

Holburne Museum, Bath

2nd July 2011

Westminster Abbey

16th June 2011

Cothay Manor

12th May 2011

Ashmolean Museum and Christ Church Oxford