Members Report A Successful And Enjoyable Programme Of Summer Visits.

This years Summer Programme began on the 10th May with the Annual Lunch. This was held at the Sysonby Knoll Hotel in Melton Mowbray and 24 members joined together to enjoy good food, good company and the odd glass or two of wine. A very good and well prepared meal was followed by a lively and interesting talk about the Leicester Magic Circle, presented by Mr Brian Lord who as a current member of the Magic Circle showed some of his favourite tricks by also involving our members. An enjoyable time was had by all those attending.

The first outing of the summer programme which took place on Saturday 8th June was to Lincoln Cathedral and the Museum of Lincoln CathedralLincolnshire Life and despite the cold weather, 40 members had a very enjoyable and memorable day in Lincoln.  The morning was spent at the Cathedral and, after refreshments in the Refectory, a group photograph was taken outside the West Door.

An excellent guided tour followed, marvelling at the craftsmanship first started in the 12th Century and is still ongoing.  Some members opted for the roof tour in the afternoon while others went to the Museum of Lincolnshire Life.  This is a wonderful museum, housed in a Victorian barracks built for the North Lincoln Militia in 1857.  It houses the interactive galleries of the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment and its exhibits illustrate commercial, community, domestic, agricultural, and industrial life.  Amongst the latter is the ‘Robey’ winding engine used from 1888 to 1960 to lift barrels of water at Woodhall Spa.  Just a short walk away we  visited the Ellis Mill, a working 18th century windmill, run entirely by the museum’s volunteer millers.  The mill on Mill Road, so called due to the nine windmills that formerly faced west over the steep slopes of the Lincoln Edge, is now the sole survivor and an excellent example of a small tower mill.

Thanks go to David Mellor who led the visit.

The second outing took place on Saturday 13th July. On what was probably the hottest day in the Derbyshire region this year, 37 society 2013-07-13 14.31.43[1]members visited the Arkwright Society’s Cromford Mills and the Crich Tramway Village.  On arrival at Cromford, we enjoyed a welcome coffee in the Wheatcroft Wharf Cafe alongside the Cromford canal.  Suitably refreshed we then embarked on a guided tour of the village and the extensive eighteenth century heritage mill site, marvelling at Sir Richard Arkwright’s entrepreneurship and vision – the birth of the modern factory.  Following a Group photograph, we travelled the short distance to Crich Tramway Village where some of us enjoyed a very nice buffet lunch in the Red Lion which was once a working public house in Stoke-on-Trent.   Rescued from demolition and restored brick by brick and tile by tile to something approaching its original splendour, it adds a great deal to the street scene.  Suitably refreshed, we journeyed on the trams and, bathed in sunshine, explored the many attractions the village had to offer.  After a final cup of tea our tired group boarded the coach for the return to Melton.’

Thanks go to Peter Raikes who led the visit.

 

The third outing took place on Saturday 10th August when 48 members visited Harewood House. The weather defied the forecast and we enjoyed a rain free day and warm sunshine in late afternoon.   On arrival, we had coffee and cake together in the Courtyard cafe before going our separate ways around the estate. 2013-08-10 17.56.10

Harewood House was built in the late 18th century to a design by John Carr of York with very minor external modifications by Robert Adam who had a virtual free hand designing the State Room interiors.  Plaster work by Joseph Rose and William Collins, decorative ceiling and wall panels by Angelica Kauffman, Antonio Zucchi and Biagio Rebecca and furniture by Thomas Chippendale all conspire to make Harewood House one of his great achievements.  The foundation stone was laid in January 1759, Adam’s decorative schemes date from 1765, the house became habitable in 1771 and the Gallery, its grandest room, was finished in 1772.  The surrounding countryside was landscaped by Capability Brown and later developed by Humphrey Repton. The house was significantly modified in the mid 19th century under the supervision of architect Charles Barry to accord with Victorian tastes. The building, inside and outside, has changed little since.  Sadly, the carefully planned landscape has suffered.  In two days of gale in 1962, some 30,000 trees were destroyed.

Without doubt, Harewood, the seat of the Lascelles family, is in the very top tier of stately homes and houses treasures of Chippendale furniture, ceramics and renaissance art masterpieces too numerous to mention here.  Its splendour is breath taking.  Having toured the house, meandered around the gardens and strolled along the lakeside walk, many of us found our way to the Terrace Tea Room to enjoy a recuperative cup of tea before a photo call in front of the house and our journey back to Melton.  As to the visit overall: our expectations were very high and easily surpassed.

Thanks go to Peter Raikes who led the visit.

The fourth and last visit of the Summer Programme concluded with a visit to Knebworth House, the ancestral home of the Bulwer-Lytton family, on Saturday, 14th September.  40 members set out from Melton.  The weather forecast was cool, 11o to 13oC, with rain, heavy becoming light, white cloud after 3.00 pm, and a northerly wind (12mph).  In the event the weather was much better.  Initially it was on the cool side, certainly inside the coach where the air conditioning was fixed in the on position, no doubt in response to the very warm weather the previous week.  We arrived at Knebworth at 11.00 am and made a bee-line for the Garden Terrace Tea Room to enjoy a welcome cup of coffee whilst the driver successfully adjusted the ventilation system for the trip back.Knebworth House 1[1]

Our party then divided into 2 groups for guided tours at 12.00 pm and 1.00 pm for guided tours of the house that were excellent thanks to first class guides.  Before and after the tours we were able to explore the gardens which were in fine fettle for the time of year.

Knebworth House is a place of contradictions. Despite its appearance as a Victorian Gothic mansion, it is a building that dates to 1563 – built, in standard Tudor style, out of red brick. It was constructed by Sir Robert Lytton, friend of Henry VII, who purchased the estate for £800 in 1490, to be nearer to the King’s Court in London.

The outside of the House is the product of Victorian alterations. Depending on ones perspective, either brutalising a fantastic Tudor red brick quadrangle house or creating a compelling Gothic fantasy.  In 1810, short on finances, Elizabeth Bulwer-Lytton decided to knock down three of Knebworth House’s four sides, leaving her able to invest her money in renovating the one remaining wing. She also cemented over the top of the red brick, bringing the House into line with the Victorian style. Her son, novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton, added the gothic detail, including some intimidating gargoyles and grotesques.

Knebworth House and Park mean many things to many people and the guest book spans two Elizabethan periods.   Heirlooms on display in the house and exhibitions reflected the family’s vice regal time in India and visits by characters as diverse as Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill and Noel Gallagher (who?).  Every generation of the Lytton family has woven a thread in the extraordinary tapestry of cultural and social history.  The Lytton-Cobbold’s are the 19th generation to live at Knebworth.

Thanks go to Peter Raikes who led the visit.

 

 

 

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