Let’s Misbehave! Blenheim Palace in the 1920s

Blenheim Palace


We visited Blenheim Palace with Hugo Vickers, who gave a talk in the Spencer Churchill Room on the exhibition ‘Let’s Misbehave’ – Blenheim Palace in the 1920’s.

Hugo then acted as our guide around the exhibition which gave an in-depth portrayal of this colourful decade through the eyes of the 9th Duke of Marlborough and Gladys Deacon.   The exhibition showcased their lavish lifestyle and exuberant house parties, and featured works by artists and sculptors as eclectic as Boldini, Cecil Beaton, Jacob Epstein and Duncan Grant.

Andrew Davies London Walk 2019

This year Andrew Davies took us on a tour of Bermondsey, an area steeped in history, south of the river Thames.

Once tired and forgotten, the area now boasts many examples of beautifully converted Victorian buildings, trendy food markets, art galleries and a textile museum founded by Zandra Rhodes.

Visit to Wollaton Hall, Nottingham

Wollaton Hall, Nottingham

We organised a visit to Wollaton Hall, a splendid Elizabethan house, designed by Robert Smythson. Built in 1588 it was home of the Willoughby family until purchased by Nottingham Council in 1925.

Dominating the lower floors is the original Elizabethan great hall, three storeys high with a stone screen at one end. The hall’s gallery contains Nottinghamshire’s oldest pipe organ, probably dating from the 17th century.  Part of the Hall also houses a natural history museum with a collection of over 750,000 objects, the second largest in the country after London’s Natural History Museum.


An Evening with Adam Zamoyski

Adam ZamoyskiThe celebrated historian and best selling author Adam Zamoyski came to Boughton House to give an entertaining and fascinating talk based on his recently published book ‘Napoleon, The Man Behind the Myth’.

The talk was held in the Tapestry Room at Boughton House, by kind permission of the Duke of Buccleuch, and all proceeds from the evening have been donated to the Northamptonshire Community Foundation, High Sheriff’s Initiative Fund.  The fund supports voluntary organisations in Northamptonshire that provide opportunities and engagement for young people.

Visit to Cirencester Park & The Gardens at Daglingworth House

Cirencester Park

Cirencester Park

The house and gardens at Cirencester Park are seldom open to visitors and we are very grateful to Lady Bathurst for allowing us a private visit, and for guiding us around her beautiful home.

Daglingworth House

On the same day David and Etta Howard also very kindly allowed us to visit the wonderful gardens they have created at nearby Daglingworth House.  Everyone very much enjoyed the refreshments and guided tour around the gardens.

Talk by Writer & Broadcaster Hugo Vickers

Book Cover - The Quest for Queen MaryThe writer and broadcaster Hugo Vickers gave a talk based on ‘The Quest for Queen Mary‘ a book he edited, using notes and extracts from the diaries of James Pope-Hennessy.

Described by Max Hastings in The Sunday Times as:  ‘Arguably the most riotously funny volume published this year’.         

The talk was held in the Tapestry Room at Boughton House, by kind permission of the Duke of Buccleuch.

All profits from this talk have been donated to Cransley Hospice.

Visit to Kettle’s Yard Art Gallery, Cambridge

We arranged a private visit to Kettle’s Yard, a unique House and Gallery that contains an impressive collection of 20th Century Art, with works by Joan Miro, Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Brancusi, Barbara Hepworth and many more.  Acquired by Jim Ede (curator at the Tate Gallery during the 1920’s and 30’s) and his wife Helen, the art is arranged alongside an idiosyncratic collection of glass, china, wood and stone which as a whole make up the unique collection of Kettle’s Yard.

Andrew Nairne, the Director, and formerly Director of Modern Art, Oxford, very kindly gave a short introductory talk before being on hand in the Galleries to answer our questions.

In recent years 11 million pounds has been spent in building a new Gallery, where, at the time of our visit, there was an exhibition of work by Richard Pousette-Dart, an abstract expressionist working in New York in 1940.  Andrew very kindly gave a short talk on this exhibition.

Visit to Buscot Park, Faringdon

Lord and Lady Faringdon very kindly allowed us a private visit to their magnificent late 18th century house at Faringdon.  A day was not really time enough to discover all that Buscot has to offer, from the quixotic 1990’s frescos in the tea rooms to the legendary art collection.

Buscot Park Water Gardens

Over the last 110 years, with the inspiration of the family, the garden has evolved into its present gloriously eclectic mix of the four seasons walled gardens, the Harold Peto Italianate water gardens, topiary and statuary, including replicas of the Chinese Terracotta Army.

Visit to The Garden at The Dower House – Melbourne, Derbyshire

The Garden at The Dower House

We are grateful to Griselda and William Kerr for allowing us to explore their garden at The Dower House.  Covering about 1½ acres overlooking Melbourne Pool, it is an inspiration for those wanting to start a garden from scratch.

After Lunch William Kerr very kindly accompanied us on a visit to two outstanding local churches:  St Michael with St Mary, one of the finest Norman churches in the country, and St Mary and St Hardulph,  set like a lighthouse on an island at low tide, at Breedon on the Hill.

Griselda’s book The Apprehensive Gardener will be published by Pimpernel Press in May 2019.

Doddington Hall & Gardens

Doddington Hall, Lincolnshire

We arranged a private visit to this magnificent house and gardens in Lincolnshire.  The house dates from the 16th century and has never been sold and therefore still contains a fascinating collection of furniture, weaponry, textiles, porcelain and paintings that have been acquired over the centuries.

The walled gardens remain faithful to their original Elizabethan layout, with mellow brick walls sheltering the formal East Front and West Gardens;  beyond these stretch the Wild Gardens.

Talk by author Adam Kay at Boughton House

Adam Kay

The best-selling author Adam Kay, who is also an award-winning comedy writer and former junior doctor, gave a talk based on the diaries he kept when training and working as a junior doctor in the NHS.  With wonderfully amusing anecdotes, he described life on the hospital front line – 90+ hour weeks, life and death decisions while earning less per hour than a hospital parking meter.

Adam’s book, This is Going to Hurt, has been in the Sunday Times best seller list for many months.  All profits from his talk have been donated to Cransley Hospice.

Visit to The Spalding Gentlemen’s Society

Spalding Gentlemen's Society and the Boston Stump

We visited the Spalding Gentlemen’s Society Museum in Broad Street, one of the oldest museums in the country, which houses an incredible collection, with many items having been donated by previous members.  The society was founded in 1710 and remains active today.     .

The Library has a fascinating collection of books, some very rare, many very old.  One of the museum’s many charms is the eccentric and appealing way that, among the thousands of items on display, the priceless is displayed next to the mundane.

After lunch we visited St. Botolph’s Church in Boston, known universally as the Boston Stump, and famed for its Medieval Tower.

Grimsthorpe Castle, Corby Glen & Irnham in Lincolnshire

We arranged a private tour of Grimsthorpe Castle and its grounds.  In the afternoon we visited St. Andrew’s church at Irnham where Charles Leggatt, past curator of the Dulwich Picture Gallery, spoke about the church and its fine facsimile of the Luttrell Psalter.  We ended the day in Corby Glen, visiting the Willoughby Art Gallery and St. John’s church in order to see its important medieval wall paintings.

A Talk by James Stourton at Deene Park

James Stourton

We are grateful to Robert and Charlotte Brudenell for allowing us to hold a talk at Deene Park by James Stourton, past Chairman of Sotheby’s and author of many books including the acclaimed Kenneth Clark: Life, Art and Civilisation, and also The Great Houses of London and Great Collectors of our Time.  He will be giving an evocative look at the international projection of British power and culture through our diplomatic buildings around the world.

Andrew Davies

A view of London

Every year Andrew Davies takes us on a walk around a particularly fascinating part of London.   His deep knowledge and infectious enthusiasm always make these days hugely popular.

Dr. Allan Chapman, Boughton House and Robert Hooke

The Duke of Buccleuch allowed us to use the Great Hall at Boughton House for a talk by Dr. Allan Chapman of Wadham College, and Christ Church, Oxford about the 18th century polymath, Robert Hooke, contemporary of Sir Christopher Wren and Sir Isaac Newton.

Felley Priory and Newstead Abbey

Felley Priory

Newstead Abbey garden


Thomas and Amanda Brudenell kindly allowed us to visit Felley Prior and garden.  In the afternoon we visited Newstead Abbey.  Both houses have associations with Lord Byron.

A Visit to Badminton House

Badminton House

The Duke of Beaufort allowed us to take two groups on private tours of Badminton House and its gardens.

A Visit to Faringdon House And Lord Berners’ Folly

Faringdon House

We visited Faringdon House where the owner Sofka Zinovieff, the author of ‘Mad Boy, Lord Berners, my grandfather and me’ guided us round the house and gardens. Sofka is the grand-daughter of the ‘Mad Boy’, Robert Heber-Percy, and she gave us an account of the many glamorous people who had passed through Faringdon House in the 1930s.