Extended visit to Shropshire , September 2016

41 Members of the Friends set off from Braintree with Paul our trusted driver and probably by now an honorary Friend, to stay at Patshull Park Hotel near Albrighton in Shropshire. The Capability Brown landscaped grounds of Patshull Park gave a very quiet and beautiful setting with very comfortable rooms looking out onto the lake or golf course. The food was good too!p1150296

We stopped en route in Lichfield where the three spired cathedral dominates the town. Through guided tours we learned of the changing loyalties during the Civil War and we saw the birthplace of Samuel Johnson of dictionary fame.

The next day we travelled through the attractive rural countryside of Shropshire to Ludlow. This a most attractive town ,dominated by its central castle and with so many Tudor and otherwise architecturally interesting buildings. Again we had excellent guided town walks through the narrow streets and contrasting wide avenue to the town wall at the bottom of the hill. Later,we drove into to Wales to the market town of Presteigne, to spend time at the Judge’s Lodging. Now a Museum, the house has been restored to as it was when the Assizes were held in the adjoining court room. Lit only by gas light, the pungent smell lingered as we went through the above and below stairs and even to the cells. The tea and delicious cakes were surely better than what the judge was served!

On Wednesday we went to the World Heritage Site of Ironbridge. After stopping to photograph and walk over the famous bridge, we went to the Museum of Iron  one of the nine museums which make up this Heritage Site. Known as the birthplace of theIndustrial Revolution, the original iron furnace is preserved here. The Tile Museum appealed to the artistic and creative as well as those interested in the manufacture. The designs were beautiful and varied and the reconstruction of a London tube station for which the tiles were made was very realistic.  In the afternoon we went to Blists Hill, the recreation of a Victorian town with many of the buildings like the bank and pub having been saved from demolition and moved from their original sites. Different tradesman were at work but a good sing song in the pub and a swirl on the merry go round gave much fun.




We were sad to leave Patshull Park but broke our journey home with a visit to the World of Wedgwood. Here one of the groups was privileged to be taken on the museum tour by Gaye Blake-Roberts , the Museum Curator and Director.  We were able to watch intricate hand painting in the factory and wwedgewood-face

then browse the artistic displays with so much beautiful china which was well above our price range!  The day finished with a wonderful afternoon tea, served in the finest china in a lovely setting. We even got doggie bags to take home the surplus sandwiches and cakes!

It was a highly successful tour,. All ran to plan and a weary but happy group returned to Braintree already asking “Where next year?”


So where will it be….?

Plans are in hand  to visit France. Monet’s Garden and the Bayeux Tapestry are on the list so watch this space!


All enquiries to Mrs Jean Harrison  01376 324302 or


Visit to Brighton 27th July 2016

On 27th July  a coach-load of the Friends  enjoyed a day out in Brighton; a trip organised by our Chairman and one of several visits arranged throughout the year. In the morning the group visited the Royal Pavilion (see picture) and were enthralled by the antique furniture and ceramics to be found there, particularly the chinoiserie so popular at the time of the Regency and which reflected, or purported to reflect, the artwork of the Far East. In the afternoon the group was free to enjoy a pleasant time walking around Brighton town centre and visiting the wide variety of shops there, as  well as strolling along the seafront.