PNTA SPRING TOUR to SOUTH YORKSHIRE – Sunday 14th to Thursday 18th MAY
We had our largest Tour group this year with 50 members participating.. There were some rainy spells to cope with but everyone was equipped for the weather and it did not spoil our enjoyment.
Sunday was spent travelling to Harrogate but we took a break at Erddig, a NT property near Wrexham. It was a fine house in 18th and 19th centuries but the Yorke family wealth declined in the 20th century with the family living in ‘genteel poverty’. However there was much to see both ‘below stairs’ and in the family rooms. The walled gardens have been fully restored to their formal 18th century design with lakes, pleached lime trees and, espaliered apples and pears. They were a pleasure on a sunny afternoon. After leaving Erddig we travelled directly to Harrogate and booked in at the very comfortable Crown Hotel.
Monday morning saw us on the way to Ripon Cathedral, an imposing sight from the surrounding countryside. The current Cathedral was built in the 12th and 13th centuries in the austere Early English style. However our tour guides explained that the first stone church on the site was commissioned by St Wilfrid in 672. Its crypt is still accessible in the current building and may well be oldest site of continuous worship (13 ½ centuries) in England.
We then drove to Fountains Abbey and the Studley Royal Water Garden. It is a World Heritage Site now owned by the NT. Building the Cistercian Abbey commenced in 1132 but its magnificent tower was only completed a few years before the Dissolution. Our guides took us through the mediaeval history and explained the working of the Monastery and the different categories of monks involved.
The Water Garden is adjacent to the Abbey. It was created in the early 18th century by the Aslabie family and is a series of lakes running down the valley which are beautiful in their simplicity. The Aslabies bought the Fountains Abbey ruins to add to the view.
Tuesday was spent in Harrogate. In the morning we had conducted walking tours round the town. It was explained that the purpose of Harrogate is to attract visitors and get then to spend money. This started in 1571 when the Tewit Well was recognized to have mineral water properties deemed good for health. Over time 88 wells have been discovered with waters tasting from awful to diabolical, but all doing you good. You can bathe in them as well. The town has many splendid buildings providing leisure activities, shops and hotels. It also has Betty’s Tearoom which has to be experienced by all visitors, including us.
In the afternoon there was a choice of visiting the RHS Harlow Carr Garden or have a bus tour of the local countryside. Both were enjoyed.
Wednesday was spent wholly at Harewood House. Getting through the gate was a test of nerve for our driver, John. Knowing that it was likely to rain, most of us explored the gardens in the morning. The Himalayan Garden was the most eyecatching with many rhododendrons in flower. The House had some splendid State Rooms with valuable pictures, furniture and carpets. There was also a display of costumes from the recent ‘Victoria’ series. Unfortunately the kitchens and other service areas were not open as they were being used for filming.
Thursday was primarily about driving back to Pembrokeshire. However we did visit Shugborough near Stafford. Management of the estate was transferred from Stafford County Council to the National Trust last November and the Trust has a major task on its hands to bring it up to its normal standards of presentation. It would be interesting to go back a few years hence to see how the Trust has managed it..
We arrived back pretty well on schedule. The trip was deemed a great success by all of us. Andrew and Annie were congratulated for their effort and organization.
Report by Jim Price.
At Harewood House we headed for the Himalayan garden first thing…[/caption]