Visit to Highclere Castle
17-19 July 2018
Tuesday 17 July 2018 The Royal Derby Museum and Factory
Here we enjoyed a guided tour of the working factory, with the opportunity to try our hand at some of the key skills in the Demonstration Studio. We then visited the museum which houses the most comprehensive collection of Crown Derby Porcelain to be seen anywhere in the world and includes pieces from all three of the factories in the company’s history. We also had an opportunity to browse in the shop where visitors to Royal Crown Derby are able to purchase the exclusive Derby Ram paperweight, which is only available from the factory shop.
Wednesday 18 July 2018 Sandham Memorial Chapel and Highclere Castle
We began our day with a visit to nearby Sandham Memorial Chapel (NT). Sandham Memorial Chapel houses what is arguably the most important series of paintings by the Modern British artist, Sir Stanley Spencer (1891-1959). The chapel is a temple to the genius of Spencer, who wanted to express in paint his military experience during the Great War. His nineteen canvases, which took six years to complete, are unique in that they depict everyday routine rather than the horror of combat. His initial posting as a medical orderly at Beaufort Hospital in Bristol instilled in him a sense that the everyday and the menial could bring him closer to God. His wartime service took him to Macedonia where he continued service as a medical orderly and later as an infantryman.
We then continued for a visit to Highclere Castle – the main filming location for the award-winning period drama Downton Abbey. Highclere Castle is not only a stunning building, it is also the very welcoming home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. Built on an ancient site, the original house was recorded in the Domesday Book. The present day Castle was designed in 1842 by Sir Charles Barry, the architect also responsible for building the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. The Castle’s history includes a fascinating connection with ancient Egypt – the 5th Earl, along with Howard Carter, discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings in 1922. The Castle now houses an exhibition that commemorates this historic event, including some rare antiquities from the 5th Earl’s earlier Egyptian excavations. The distinctive gardens and park designed by Capability Brown, also provided much interest and enjoyment.
Thursday 19 July 2018 Waddesdon Manor and return home
Sadly we reached the last day of our trip. In the morning we had time for one final visit to the house and gardens of Waddesdon Manor (NT) – which featured as the exterior of the fictional ‘Haxby Park’ in the second series of ‘Downton Abbey’. Situated on top of a knoll with fantastic views over the Vale of Aylesbury, the house was built in the Neo-Renaissance style of a French château between 1874 and 1885 for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild as a weekend residence for grand entertaining, and to display his outstanding collection of arts to the fashionable world. The manor also features a splendid Rococo ironwork aviary housing exotic birds overlooking the garden designed by Lanning Roper in the 1960s. Following our visit we began our journey home, returning to our original departure point.