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Events Day visit to Southill and Ampthill

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Friday 9 June, 2017

With the exception of Woburn and perhaps Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire may not be noted for its historic houses but, in best London Chapter style, we have unearthed two real gems for your delectation. We have arranged a visit to two fine classical houses, one never open to the public and the other only to groups like ours for two weeks each year. Southill Park (Charles Whitbread Esq.) was originally built in the 1720s. The house was bought by the Whitbread brewing family in 1795 and then remodelled by Henry Holland. Following an exemplary restoration by IGS members Alec Cobbe and Edward Bulmer, among others, in the 1990s, much of the decoration is as Holland left it and there are many original items of furniture, also designed by Holland, and paintings. There are also fascinating relics of the Whitbreads’ long brewing history.


After coffee we will tour the house with Charles Whitbread and the archivist, James Collett-White. There will also be a chance to see the garden which should be at its best at that time of year.
After lunch at a nearby pub, we go on to Ampthill Park House (Sir Timothy and Lady Clifford). Ampthill was built for the Countess of Ailesbury in the 1680s by Robert Grumbold, better known for his work on Cambridge colleges. The house was completed by John Lumley in the 1700s. Then in 1769 a new young owner, the Earl of Upper Ossory, brought in Sir William Chambers to extend and modernise the house. After a typically chequered 20th century, the house was divided into four magnificent vast apartments in 1979 and spectacularly revived. The Cliffords own the main part of the 1680s house, including Chambers’ saloon, Lumley’s staircase and the majority of the Georgian reception rooms. As befits a former director of the National Gallery of Scotland, the Cliffords have filled the house with their stunning and eclectic collections and have even retrieved items formerly in the house.


Tickets for this day trip cost £75 per person (£80 for non-members) and the ticket price covers coach travel to/from London, entry to the houses, coffee & biscuits, and a 2-course pub lunch (but not drinks). The coach will leave from the V&A Museum at 9am. The coach is expected to return to London by around 7pm.


If you would like to attend, please send your completed application form and cheque, together with an email address or SAE to Robert Jennings, 28 Elmfield Road, London SW17 8AL (robertbpjennings@btinternet.com). Full details will be sent to those attending closer to the event. Priority will be given to members, but guests will be welcome if there is space.