VISITS 2019 & 2020


Fri 20 September : Chagall Windows & Leybourne Castle.

A guided talk at All Saint’s Tudeley on the twelve windows decorated by Marc Chagall. On to Leybourne Castle, not open to the public: built from the 13th to the 20th centuries, beautifully restored by the owners who have invited us to tour inside and out.


Tue 5 November : Royal Academy – Anthony Gormley Exhibition  –  CANCELLED


Thur 23 January : William Blake: the Artist.

After a private lecture, we visit this Tate Britain exhibition of about 300 works, some of the most iconic images of British art, which provide a comprehensive overview of Blake’s achievements. The atmospheric exhibition shows the works as he wished them to be seen.
Blake was a painter printmaker and poet who created some of the most iconic images in British art. Radical and rebellious, he is an inspiration to visual artists, musicians, poets and performers worldwide. His personal struggles in a period of political terror and oppression, his technical innovation, his vision and political commitment, have perhaps never been more pertinent. With over 300 original works this is the largest show of Blake’s work for 20 years. It includes an immersive recreation of the small domestic room in which Blake showed his art in 1809. You will be able to experience for yourself the impact these works had when they were shown for the first time. In another room, Blake’s dream of showing his works at enormous scale will be made reality using digital technology. This exhibition will rediscover Blake as a visual artist for the 21st-century.
Travel by coach. £55 for travel to the door, private lecture and exhibition ticket.


Wed 18 March : Musical Museum & Kenwood House.

One of the world’s foremost collections of automatic instruments, the Musical Museum tells the changing story of how people have captured and listened to music over the last four centuries. From tiny music boxes to the Mighty Wurlitzer theatre organ, the eccentric collection includes an impressive array of working instruments and inventions, including reproducing pianos, orchestrions, self-playing violins, pipe organs and gramophones.

The Musical Museum was founded over 50 years ago by the late Frank Holland. In the early years, a number of famous pianists who had recorded rolls earlier in the century came along to the museum to hear themselves play. The current building was specially designed for the Musical Museum, and was opened in June 2008.

After coffee in the Museum cafe, with views over the Thames, we have a private guided tours that will combine practical demonstrations with an entertaining narrative. Find out how music was recorded and reproduced, from mechanical inventions to the present day, see and hear them in action.

Have you visited Kenwood House before? A place to remember, this pristine 18th-century villa at the top of Hampstead Heath makes a big impact. Set in 112 acres of landscaped grounds remodelled by Humphry Repton in the late 18th century, the house and it’s estate are one of the best hidden gems in London.

It’s stunning art collection is another big draw: many make the pilgrimage to see Rembrandt’s self-portrait and Vermeer’s “The Guitar Player” along with the other masterpieces by Van Dyke, Hals, Landseer, Kauffman,Turner, Reynolds, Gainsborough and Constable. The collection of 63 masterpieces was assembled by brewing magnate Edward Guinness, Earl of Iveagh, and bequeathed to the nation, along with the Kenwood Estate, in 1927. In the grounds are statues by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, among others.

Visitors also come to see Robert Adam’s magnificent interiors, considered one of his greatest achievements. Adam provided new north and south fronts, the great staircase and the exceptional library, between 1764 and 1779 transforming a modest two-storey house into one of the most important examples of British neoclassical architecture. The rooms have been recently repainted in the original colour scheme and redisplayed with some of the furniture originally designed by Adam for this setting.

The outside of the House has also been repainted, in an extensive project in 2012-14. Underneath layers of stark 20th century cream paint, it was found that originally the south facade had been painted in pale stone tones to add reflection to the architecture, whereas the north facade was covered in stronger, darker textured paint to create the illusion that even the timber and plaster were carved stone: 15 successive layers of lead oil paint were found, with sand added between each layer. English Heritage has worked painstakingly to reproduce the finish.

Kenwood is among the finest of the great houses in the care of English Heritage. Their aim is to also make it one of their most welcoming houses, following the spirit in which it was bequeathed. We shall enjoy a guided tour of the “Kenwood Highlights”, followed by some free time to explore.
For full details of the day and how to book click here Musical Museum and Kenwood House Visit Programme


Wed 22 April : Weald & Downland Living Museum

Postponed until Wednesday 21st April 2021

Discover 1,000 years of English rural life on this beautiful site of over 50 rescued buildings: shops & cottages, farmhouses, working & public buildings, mostly open for us to explore. The Museum has won a host of awards since opening in 1970.

Step back in time
Come and explore a fascinating collection of rescued rural buildings set in a beautiful 40-acre site within the South Downs National Park. Discover the stories of the people who lived and worked in them over a 1,000-year period ¬ from Anglo-Saxon to Edwardian times.
Homes and historic gardens, farm animals and farming heritage, crafts and trade workshops, beautiful woodland, pasture and wildflower meadows
The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum was launched in 1967 by a small group of enthusiasts led by the Museum’s founder, the late Dr. J.R. Armstrong MBE. It first opened to the public on 5 September 1970.
The principal aim of the founding group was to establish a centre that could rescue representative examples of vernacular buildings from the South East of England, and thereby to generate an increased public awareness and interest in the built environment.
The Museum’s foundation coincided with a growing national interest in historic buildings and this general public interest has resulted in strong support for the Museum from its inception.
The Museum promotes the retention of buildings on their original sites unless there is no alternative, and we encourage an informed and sympathetic approach to their preservation and continuing use. Only a small number of representative buildings can be brought to the Museum for inclusion in the collection.
As well as illustrating the history of original building styles and types, the Museum has good collections representing country crafts and industries, building trades and agriculture. Objects from these collections can be seen displayed in buildings on the site, and in the open access store.
The buildings at the museum were all threatened with destruction and, as it was not possible to find a way to preserve them at their original sites, they were carefully dismantled, conserved and rebuilt in their historical form at the museum.
These buildings, plus two archaeological reconstructions, help the museum bring to life the homes, farmsteads and rural industries of the last 950 years. Along with the buildings, there are “hands-on” activities, like cooking, and weaving, and a number of yearly activities, including seasonal shows, historic gardens weekend and Tree Dressing.
Since its inception, the Museum has won a host of awards and accolades for its work and Designated Collection including:
Sussex Life’s Visitor Attraction of the Year 2019.
Runner-up for the RIBA Stirling Prize 2002
RIBA Architecture Award 2002
British Construction Industries Small Projects Award 2002
Full Civic Trust Award 2003
For printable details of the day and how to book click here Weald and Downland Living Museum Visit Programme

PROPOSED VISITS 2020-21 – All visits postponed until HM Government is no longer giving guidance to avoid public transport.

Wed 23 Sept: Red House & Eltham Palace. Private guided tours of both houses. The Red House, Bexleyheath, the home of William Morris, founder of the Arts & Crafts movement & centre of the Pre-Raphaelites. Eltham Palace, with its mediaeval Great Hall & cutting-edge Art Deco mansion created by Courtauld millionaires in the 1930s. Postponed until Wednesday 29 September 2021

Fri 27 Nov: Palace of Westminster. Appreciate the works of Barry & Pugin in our guided tour of this world famous building, including both Chambers of Parliament, the Central Lobby & St Stephen’s Hall.

Thurs 28 Jan: Martello No.24, Dymchurch. After meeting for coffee, we visit Martello24, opening exclusively for our guided tour. Martello24 is the closest to the original design & layout of all 74 towers built between 1805 & 1812 to resist the French invasion. Lots of steps.

Tues 23 Mar: Museum of London Docklands. Our guide will introduce us to the Museum with a tour of the highlights of it’s superb galleries including Sailortown, an atmospheric recreation of 19th century London. Discover unique finds & unusual artefacts in one of London’s hidden treasures, set in a group of Georgian grade 1 listed sugar warehouses.

Weds 21 Apr: Weald & Downland Living Museum. Discover 1,000 years of English rural life on this beautiful site of over 50 rescued buildings: shops & cottages, farmhouses, working & public buildings, mostly open for us to explore The Museum has won a host of awards since opening in 1970.

Directions for Oakover Lay-by:

From M20 Junction 9 take exit indicating Ashford /A20, at next roundabout take 4th exit A20/Lenham proceed straight over next roundabout and proceed along to next right hand exit and that is Oakover lay-by.