Trips & Visits

Our 2017 Trips......

23rd February 2017 - Renishaw Hall

Renishaw Hall, in Derbyshire, has been the family home of the Sitwells for nearly 400 years and remains so. The Sitwells have been avid collectors and patrons of the arts and the history of the family is filled with writers, innovators and eccentrics. Best known were the trio of Edith (1887-1964), grandly eccentric poet and novelist, Sir Osbert (1892-1969), also a writer and poet, and Sacheverell (1897-1988) well known for his work on art, architecture, ballet and travel. The Hall is being specially opened for us, and following coffee on arrival we will embark on a guided Decorative Arts Tour. If weather and time permit we will be able to take a look at the fine Italianate gardens.

22nd June 2017 - Hidcote Manor & Bourton House Gardens


Hidcote Manor Garden is one of England’s great ‘Arts and Crafts’ gardens famous for its rare trees and shrubs, herbaceous borders and unusual plants. It was created by Lawrence Johnston following its purchase in 1907. The garden is divided into a series of outdoor ‘rooms’ each with its own character, an approach influenced by Gertrude Jekyll and also adopted at Sissinghurst by Vita Sackville West. The room structure melts away as you move further away from the house. Johnston travelled widely during the 1920’s on plant hunting expeditions to China and South Africa and many plants have been named after Johnston or Hidcote in recognition of his talent and plantsmanship.

Bourton House Garden consists of a three-acre garden surrounding the house (not open to the public) and a seven-acre walled pasture given over to specimen trees. It was created from 1983 onwards by the house owners, Mr and Mrs R Paice and first opened to the public in 1987. Although since 2010 under new ownership, the garden remains open for visitors and is continuing to evolve, constantly surprising visitors with its stunning colour combinations and rare, unusual and exotic plants. There is a Tea Room and Gift Shop in the Tithe Barn

Our 2016 Trips......

5th May 2016 - 40th Anniversary Luncheon 1976 - 2016

On a lovely English spring day, PDFAS celebrated its 40th anniversary and marked the occasion with a luncheon on 5th May 2016 at the Orton Hall Hotel, Peterborough.

The Chair, Desmond Quinn, and all members of the committee hosted the celebration, which was attended by 70 members of the society, their family and friends, and other interested parties.

The occasion was enhanced by the attendance of three of the founder members – Joyce Swallow, Lotte Gillatt and Dorothy Fisher.

After lunch, one of the members, Audrey Shelley, spoke about how the society was set-up by a group of friends, in 1976, as a luncheon club.

The guest of honour was Shelagh Smith, Chair of Vivacity, Peterborough, who is responsible for the promotion of all types of arts in the city. She spoke about all the new initiatives taking place and how PDFAS and Vivacity could work together in the future.

In addition, Angela Payne, Chair of NADFAS East Anglia Area, spoke about the developments at NADFAS, including its widening remit to include more general artistic subjects, the possibility of ‘re-branding’ the NADFAS name in 2018, and its 70th anniversary in 2017.

The Peterborough society has maintained a healthy membership since its launch in 1976. Members have enjoyed a wide variety of lectures on art, textiles, design, architecture, porcelain and many other topics. Visits and study days have proved very popular and educational.

Over the years, the church recorders have undertaken this important work at local churches and, at present, they are nearing completion of a record of St Andrew’s Church, Thornhaugh.

Recently, the young arts section has been boosted by the appointment of a new committee member, who is a local artist, and who will have responsibility for promoting young arts in Peterborough on behalf of the society.

Additionally, over the last 40 years, one of the most important elements of the society has been its ability to bring together residents of Peterborough who share an interest in art. From this common basis, many long-standing friendships have been formed between members.

PDFAS is now looking forward to its 50th anniversary!

2nd June 2016 - Lamport Hall and Kathy Brown's Garden

Forty-three of us made up a coach party to visit these two lesser known attractions on 2nd June. Lamport Hall, near Daventry, came first, a fine 18th Century House. We split into two groups ably guided by friends of the Lamport Hall Preservation Trust that now owns the building. We heard a remarkable story of wealth, eccentricity in Victorian times producing a gnome rockery, followed by serious neglect by about 1950. Then the immense dedication of Sir Gyles Isham who gave up a promising career as a Hollywood heart-throb when he inherited the place to invest huge sums in the initially thankless task of making it structurally sound and weatherproof before restoring its excellent plasterwork, decoration and garden.

Then to the small town of Olney, where we dispersed in all directions to find some lunch. Reassembling with superb discipline at the appointed time we travelled to Kathy Brown’s garden in the village of Stevington near Bedford.

There Kathy Brown herself and a friend showed us round in two groups. Beautifully divided up into different style gardens over 4 acres, there were plenty of planting and garden design details to note, followed by a tea with excellent cakes made from Kathy’s edible flower recipes.

20th October 2016 - Boughton House and Estate

Thirty two of us had a private tour centred on Boughton House, the Northamptonshire home of the Dukes of Buccleuch and their ancestors the Montagus. Robinson’s had allocated their brand new roomy coach for the trip and a driver, Andrew, whose ability to judge a gap through parked cars in a village street was in a class of its own, generating a communal wince from the back-seat drivers on several occasions.

What a welcoming place! The house manager, the guides and the tea-room ladies were all friendly and efficient. After coffee on arrival we divided into two groups and met our guides, each with different style and, to a degree, content. A huge range of artists are represented in the rooms which display portraits, tapestries (retaining a remarkable degree of colour) and superbly crafted furniture. The background khaki coloured wood panelling in most rooms (appropriately called Boughton Drab) is an acquired taste, but certainly didn’t detract from the art, the clever trompe l’oeil architectural effects and some fine allegorical ceiling painting. Memorable features are the servants’ hall converted into an impressive armoury, the 40 small van Dyke grisaille portraits in the Drawing Room and the startlingly incomplete west wing.

After a light lunch and a visit to the shop, we rejoined the coach and guide Alan. His rural Northamptonshire burr, legacy of generations of his family living and working on the estate, belied a capacious memory and knowledge of all aspects of the house and estate, past and present, from high culture to local stories of bloody tragedy. Travelling through farmland and villages owned by the estate we reached St Edmunds Church Warkton. This small village church contains four recently conserved and cleaned monuments to three generations of the Montagu family. Lit by light from a massive east window the chancel houses these superb monuments, two by Louis Roubiliac in gleaming white marble.


(Visits Organiser - Janet Lee)

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