Some Information on Our Days Out (Strollers & Others)
Today we went to Montacute House, a National Trust property in Somerset, but first we stopped for lunch in Yeovil.
Montacute House was built at the end of the 14th century for Sir Edward Phelps and was in the Phelps family continuously until bought by the National Trust in 1931.
The National Trust is in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery and five rooms, including the Long Gallery, contain some wonderful examples of Elizabethan and Jacobean portraiture. There is also a collection of 16th and 17th century samplers in the Brown Room; these were collected by a Dr. Goodhart in the 1950’s.
The weather was kind to us and we were able to enjoy the beautiful gardens and sit outside for a coffee.
The strollers went on a guided tour of the Mansion House in Richmond Road. We were very lucky to have David Clay as our tour guide, as he is retiring this year, and I can’t imagine anyone else having such a comprehensive knowledge of the Mansion House. It was built in 1896 for James Howell, owner of Howells department store, and bought by Cardiff Corporation in 1912 as the Lord Mayor’s residence but it is now used for visiting dignitaries and also weddings.
Worcester Races & City
Our trip to Worcester was very profitable for some of our members as quite a few backed a winner or two, other members of our group spent their time exploring the city and spending money.
There has been a racecourse in Worcester since the early 18th century but there has been a religious presence in Worcester since 680 and the earliest part of the cathedral dates from the 10th century’
I found lots to see in Worcester, it is a very beautiful, albeit small, city with lots of older buildings and interesting museum and I wouldn’t mind going back there again.
We had beautiful weather for our trip to Powis Castle, perfect for exploring the gorgeous gardens including the long herbaceous borders planted up on terraces in front of the castle, 300 year old clipped yews, formal gardens, parkland, woodland and various ponds. Near the main entrance we were entertained by the most beautiful peacock displaying his fantastic tail, three peahens and some gorgeous little chicks.
The first building on the site was a medieval fortress, built around 1200 and then added to and remodelled until the early 1900’s. It was owned by the Herbert and Clive families and the Clive Museum displays some of the items Robert Clive of India brought back from India in the mid 1700’s. There was another exhibition commemorating the Battle of the Somme, where Percy, son of the 4th Earl of Powis, was fatally injured. They have created a Somme trench in the cellars of the castle to commemorate the battle’s centenary.
The building itself contains a fantastic collection of art and furnishings from the various periods of occupation, the long gallery and the state rooms are all very impressive.
Our coach driver, Glyn, got us there and back safely and quickly and, all in all, it was a very pleasurable trip.
Our Strollers visit to the RNLI station at Porthcawl was very popular and, after a lovely welcome we were shown a short video about the RNLI, then we were given a guided talk around the station by one of the volunteers. There has been a lifeboat station in Porthcawl since 1860 but this building is relatively recent, it was completed in 1996 in order to house a Class B Atlantic lifeboat, named after Atlantic College in Wales where these rigid inflatable lifeboats were first developed. They also have a Class D boat, which smaller, more manoeuvrable and can work closer to cliffs, etc...
We were also shown video of a flood rescue in Devon carried out by members of the Porthcawl station. They rescued a woman clinging to a tree just above the flood water from the River Umberleigh, it was at night, two days before Christmas and she was very lucky. Porthcawl volunteers Chris Missen and Paul Eastment were both awarded the RNLI Bronze Medal for this rescue.
Check out their website (link on the right) including live streaming of the Pier
Guardian, Six Bells Colliery
Guardian is a 12.6m (41 ft) tall steel statue on a sandstone plinth 7.4m (24 ft), it was designed by Sebastien Boyesen and erected in 2010 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Six Bells Colliery disaster when 45 boys and men died in an underground gas explosion. The statue is made from over 20,000 horizontal strips of special weathering steel which are all separated from but connected to the next, such that from a distance Guardian appears almost transparent. Close up and from the right angle the gaps between the strips disappear to give the appearance of a solid sculpture with full definition of all of its features. One of the ‘Friends’ took us around and gave us a very informative talk about the disaster and the statues construction and then it was back to the very nice Ty Ebbw Fach cafe in Abertillery District Museum.
National Memorial Arboretum
A joint History group & Strollers trip to The National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire where there are more than 300 memorials set in about 150 acres of woodland, meadows and more formal areas. There are memorials to all the British military services and to our various allies, plus some to specific groups of people, such as the British Nuclear Test Veterans Memorial & the Basra Memorial Wall. There are also memorials to other organisations, such as the RNLI, the W.I, etc... and there are some permanent and temporary exhibitions and lots of volunteers who are more than happy to tell you about the memorials.
I certainly learnt a lot from this trip and, if you missed it, then I would recommend you try to visit it.
Cardiff Crown Court
Our guide, one of the Court Ushers, first showed us into Court No. 2 where we were very lucky to have one of the Court Judges give us a talk on how the Court system has changed since he started in the 1980’s, it was really interesting and he was happy to answer all our questions. Our Usher then took us on a tour of the Court, on the way he showed us various points of interest, such as the Library and the High Sheriff's Chamber, but unfortunately we couldn’t take any photographs. After the tour some of our group went into the various courts and sat in on proceedings, everyone seemed to enjoy the morning and it was very different from our usual trips.
Click on a picture below to see it full-size with more details.