Next: Friday 12 May, 2017
As Irish Georgians will be aware, the first Country House Tour with the 20-Ghost Club was in 1978, in Oxfordshire, and soon became a firm fixture in our annual calendar. Taking into account that one in the early 1980s had to be missed, this year will be the 39th, and has been organised by members John Redmill and Tim Bacon. As always, the 20 Ghost Club will most generously be providing our transport in their magnificent vintage pre-1939 Rolls Royces.
As recent tours have been some distance from where many members live, it was decided that this year’s tour would be in the Home Counties. West Hampshire, with the surrounding elements of Dorset and Wiltshire, is an area of diverse scenery, the chalk uplands of the northern part contrasting with the flat lands of the south, mainly the New Forest, former royal hunting grounds of the Norman Kings, who had made Winchester their capital city. Proximity to this ancient capital, and later to London, as well as the south coast, with its ports and defence bases, meant that the county has many country houses of differing periods and styles. A number, particularly the earlier ones, were built for courtiers, and there is also a Royal connection with some of the others. Hampshire has always been rich in suitable building materials – timber during the medieval period, soft rich red brick from the excellent clay, clunch [a hard form of chalk suitable for building], and of course Portland, England’s finest building stone, from nearby Dorset.
As always, most of the houses we will be visiting are still in private hands; in fact there are not many National Trust houses in the county. As always, the itinerary is still not finalised at the time of writing this, so things are still somewhat fluid, but we will be mainly seeing houses not generally open to the public, as always. There will be a couple of palatial ones, such as Longford Castle and Trafalgar Park, some fascinating recent restorations – Crichel House, Marshcourt [by Lutyens] and St Giles’s House - a few ‘retreats’, such as Bisterne and the chivalric Cranborne Manor, a church and folly or two, like Houghton Lodge, and of course some beautiful gardens, particularly those by Gertrude Jekyll at Marshcourt. Members should remember though that the itinerary is subject to change as details are confirmed. The tour will start at the hotel about lunchtime on Friday 12th May, and will end late in the afternoon of Monday 15th May. More precise details will be sent to all those booked on the tour when the arrangement and itinerary have been confirmed.
Accomodation & Cost - The tour is based at the Best Western Chilworth Manor Hotel, an Edwardian country house of yellow brick, built in 1904 for John Willis Fleming, set in 12 acres of gardens just 4 miles northwest of Southampton. In 1967 the family sold it to Southampton University as a Hall of Residence, and then was subsequently converted into a hotel. The cost to Irish Georgian members will be £640 per person sharing and will include B&B for the nights of Friday 12th, Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th May, lunch on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, dinner on Friday, Saturday & Sunday evenings, drinks at most meals, and house entrance fees. Single rooms are available at an additional supplement of £75 per person. The hotel is also happy to provide B&B for the nights of Thursday 11th and Monday 15th May, should these be required; if so, individuals will be responsible for booking and paying for them. There is a very frequent train service from London Waterloo to Southampton, where taxis and buses link with Chilworth and the hotel, but do NOT book any tickets until your place has been confirmed.
Booking & Payment - If you would like to come on the tour, please download the attached application form below and return it to Marylyn Bacon, Ramsden Farm, Stone-cum-Ebony, near Tenterden, Kent TN30 7JB with a cheque and email address or SAE. The number of places for members of the two societies is limited so please return the form ideally by Friday 4th March so these can be allocated; if the tour is oversubscribed, we will try but do not guarantee to give priority to those who have missed out on recent tours. For insurance reasons, only members who have already paid their 2017 subscriptions can be accepted on this tour.