Garden Visits 2017
In June 2016, we visited Coton Manor and what a delight that was. The garden is built on a gently sloping hillside and there is a very attractive stream running down one side and there are large herbaceous borders, a formal rose garden and, much to the delight of most visitors, an exceptional nursery selling lots of unusual plants. We were exceedingly lucky as the weather stayed fine until just before lunch when we all sat down to excellent sandwiches and cakes in the old stables. After lunch we went to Cottesbrooke Hall, but sadly, it was raining hard so we were all glad to get inside the house for a guided tour of the rooms that are open to the public. There is some fantastic china on display and there are exceptional pictures by Herring, Munnings, Lionel Edwards and many other artists and they are all exquisite. There are also a lot of bronze sculptures dotted around the rooms. I particularly liked the one of a lady on a horse feeding the horse with a sandwich! Most of us braved the rain for a quick tour of the garden which is spectacular but was spoilt by the weather. Tea was taken in the old stables and, judging by the comments, the whole day was an outstanding success. Both houses are well worth a private visit and are not too far away.
I started the garden visits in 2009 and we have visited the following. 2009 East Ruston Old Rectory, 2010 Sissinghurst and Great Dixter, 2011 Highgrove, 2012 Thenford Manor, 2013 Blickling Hall, 2014 Bradenham Hall and Hilborough House, 2015 Corpusty Mill and Elsing Hall and, last year, Coton Manor and Cottesbrooke Hall.
I have been asking that someone step forward and take over running these visits as I feel I have done it long enough and I vowed that last year was going to be the last. However, no-one has put their hand up and much against my better judgement I have organised a visit for 2017 on 14th June and the following year on 13th June. Below is the advice I sent on 20th July to those who came to Coton Manor and Cottesbrooke Hall. This was intended to give our regular supporters the chance of being first to get advance notice and priority booking. One or two members thought they had been left off the email, but they did not join us for 2016 and that was why they did not get the advance notice! It seems that 2017 will be a sell out as I have over forty people saying they want to join the visit and the coach only holds fifty three.
I am still looking for someone to take over from me! However I have made arrangements for 2018 which, without a shadow of doubt, will be my last year!
I have agreed with the owners of West Stow Hall, near Bury St Edmunds, and Columbine Hall, near Stowmarket, to pay them a visit on Wednesday 13th June 2018. They are some 20 miles apart. West Stow will arrange sandwiches and we will go on to Columbine Hall in the early afternoon. I have yet to get costings for entry, lunch and the coach and I will email all those who joined the 2017 visit first, before opening the list to the whole membership. This will be in the autumn of this year. Both these properties can be visited using Invitation to View, but I would prefer to go with a group of people I know, such as CSCA Members, and also know that it is a private visit. I am grateful to Maggie Pownall for suggesting these two properties.
Opposite is a copy of the advice I sent out in July 2016.
Garden Visit. Wednesday 14th June 2017
After the obvious success of the visit to Coton Manor followed by Cottesbrooke Hall in 2016, I have decided, against my better judgement, to arrange a two garden and two house visit for 2017. I hope I have chosen two exceptional houses and gardens.
We will go first to The Manor, Hemmingford Grey, and then on to Island Hall, Godmanchester. (Google them for details)
The Manor was the setting in the children’s books by Lucy Boston, for Green Knowe. Some of the toys mentioned in the books are on display. The moated house is surrounded by four acres of garden filled with 200 species of roses as well as a collection of Dykes Irises. The house adjoins the River Great Ouse. There are herbaceous borders and topiary hedges depicting Coronation shapes and Chess pieces. We will be given a guided tour of the house in groups whilst others explore the gardens. The house is owned by Diana Boston. We aim to leave here at 12.45 to go the fifteen minutes to Island Hall, where we will be given sandwiches etc. before being given a guided tour of the house by a family member. We will be able to roam the gardens. Both house visits are private for CSCA Members only.
Island Hall is an elegant riverside mansion which was built in the late 1740s. The original owner, John Jackson, sold the house to Jacob Baumgartner in 1804. The Baumgartners were merchants of Huguenot Swiss extraction and they lived here for six generations. During the First World War they changed their name to Percy. It was requisitioned by the WAAF and RAF for the Second World War and then turned into flats before being rescued in 1983 by the present owner, Christopher Vane Percy, a descendant of the Baumgartners. The house has been totally restored and has won several awards for its painstaking restoration. The gardens are enclosed by 18th Century brick walls and mature trees and are connected by a Chinese style bridge to the island in the Great River Ouse from which the house takes its name. The present Chinese bridge is a replica of the original 18th century bridge and was built in 1988. The island is ornamental and is two acres, and the garden of one and a half acres around the house is formal with a large river frontage. Adjoining the river is Portholme, reputedly the largest water meadow in England.
The coach will arrive outside The Eight Bells in Colchester Road, Bures at 08.30 and will aim to leave by 09.00 which should get us to Hemmingford Grey by about 10.30.
We will aim to leave Godmanchester by 17.00 and be back in Bures by 18.30.
The cost will be £45.00, the same as 2016, and includes cost of the coach, entry to both houses and gardens, and lunch. It also includes CSCA taking out liability insurance. As usual there can be no refunds unless your place is filled by someone else and the coach is full.
If you would like to join this visit can you please email me firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone me (01473 824550) if you do not have internet access, and I will let you know whether spaces are available. If the coach is full I will start a waiting list in case anyone drops out.
2022 - Read about the wonderful new gallery being built in Sudbury for Gainsborough's masterpieces; follow the trail of a tireless local environmental campaigner; get ready for the second EA cultural festival, the Bures music festival and Opera at Layer Marney; discover the beautiful garden of Holm House with its wildflower meadow and lake; travel through the Colne valley along the Gainsborough line; find out where you can get local financial advice; enjoy an illustrated walk in the Stour Valley; and read our Chairman's update on proposed housing developments, solar farms, and the National Grid's Bramford to Twinstead electricity grid reinforcement project.
2020 - Welcome to our 2020 lockdown edition - only published ONLINE. Read about the wonderful Alfred Munnings Exhibition "Behind the Lines"; find out how the beavers have been getting on at the Spains Hall Estate in Finchingfield, introduced back into Essex after an absence of 400 years; explore the link between Ferriers in Bures and the Voyage of the Mayflower, the Salem Witch trials and Wampum belts; read a fascinating interview with Carl Shillingford, talented Michelin chef and keen local forager; and enjoy a celebratory update from Ken Forrester on South African wines and his support for a wonderful local school.
2019 - Read about Tudor living on a grand scale at Alston Court, how Samuel Courtauld & Co. shaped our towns and villages, hear inspiring stories of local vineyards Tuffon Hall and West Street, get an update on the Dedham Vale AONB extension, and take a tour round Polstead Mill, one of East Anglia's beautiful secret gardens.
2018 - Read about Hedingham Castle, a new National Centre for Gainsborough in Sudbury, award-winning new Gins from Adnams, aspects of our Industrial Heritage, the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds, the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project, and take a look at the proposed new Constitution for CSCA..
2016 - Interesting articles on medieval graffiti, farming in the Stour Valley, exploring our AONB, early settlers from the Stour Valley to America, the archaeology of a local farm, a wonderful catalogue of British birds, celebrating a Suffolk joinery business, the weather from a South African winery.