There were several visits in 2017, all of which were well supported.
The Museum at the Bank of England was very informative and it was good to see the contrast between that and the market area at Spitalfields and the streets where the weavers and merchants lived. We also enjoyed lunch in a pub which was a converted bank with amazing architecture and decoration. We even found stair treads made in Braintree.
Crossrail and Tunnel Tales of Old London Town, April 2017
Another London visit, made so easy by coach transfers and the knowledge of a Blue Badge guide, enabled us to contrast the first tunnel under the Thames with the building of the new Crossrail Link. The Thames Tunnel, built by the Brunels, father and son, in 1843, was at the time described as the eighth wonder of the world. We were able to stand in the original shaft built by Brunel, but not enter the tunnel which is now part of the London Overground.
At the Crossrail exhibition in the Museum of Docklands, we were able to see the modern machinery used to bore the tunnels and some of the artefacts excavated.
It was certainly a day of contrasts.
Mansion House, June 2017
It was a great surprise to receive a phone call from Mansion House to say that the enquiry I had made 2 years ago about a visit was going to be possible. Engagements of the Lord Mayor and other celebratory events greatly restrict availability for visits so this was a great privilege. It was not disappointing either! It is a fabulous building with stunning architecture, furnishings and contents. The Keeper conducted the tour and delighted us with history and anecdotes. We ended the visit in the silver vaults where we saw some priceless objects.
In July we visited Deene Park, the home in Northamptonshire of the Brudenell family. It was a private opening and large collection of art, furniture and porcelain was very interesting. Unfortunately the weather did not enable us to make the most of the renowned gardens and estate.
The other stately home we visited was Waddesdon Manor. This was in November, to see the house dressed for Christmas. Built by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild in the 1870's, it houses his amazing collection of furniture and paintings, tapestries and countless objects of silver and gold. To add to this there were 20' Christmas trees in some of the rooms, lavishly decorated in character with the contents of the room. Outside there were lights in the trees and a Christmas market so it was a real taster for the Christmas celebrations ahead.
FRANCE, SEPTEMBER 2017
For some of the Friends the highlight visit of the year was our four day stay in Northern France. The Flagfinders coach was so ably driven by Paul who worked well with Gill, the tour manager, to take us out each day.
We stayed in Deauville and visited Monet's Garden in Giverny, Rheims, where we followed the Jean d'Arc trail, and Bayeux. The famous tapestry is now extremely well displayed and we were able to spend time studying it and then in the Museum there. Bayeux itself is a lovely town.
Our final visit was to an Arts and Crafts house, Le Bois Des Moutiers. Designed by Edwin Lutyens and with input into the garden design from Gertrude Jekyll, the house is unique in France. This was a private opening and the owner showed us around. We all wished we could have stayed longer. It was a very successful tour.
Next September we are planning an extended visit to the Winchester area.
Details will shortly be available from Jean Harrison.
Other day visits will take place during the year.