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OUR NEXT EVENTS: Antwerp: Butchers, Music & Art Sat Feb 17, 2018 @09:45

Feudal castles and fortresses with their stories of battles and sieges between the English and the Welsh, stately homes, a brand-new gallery dedicated to William De Morgan’s ceramics, unusual churches, artefacts of an industrial past, magnificent gardens as well as “Capability” Brown’s last assignment, and a wall of not quite Chinese proportions (although it did stretch for 188 kilometres) are some of the things awaiting us on our 2017 UK Trip to the Welsh Marches and the West Midlands (June 20-25, 2017).

The geography and geology of these two regions has had an enormous influence on the socio-economic history of Great Britain for centuries, culminating in the 18th and 19th centuries with the Industrial Revolution. Today, the signs on the landscape are less obvious and we will be treated to breath-taking views, particularly in the Severn Valley around Shrewsbury and northwards along the Welsh border.

The Welsh border, also known as the Welsh Marches, is punctuated on both sides by medieval castles and fortified manor houses such as Chirk Castle (NT) on the English side and Powis Castle & Gardens (NT) just into Wales. Both are impressive edifices but spectacular is the only word to describe the tightly terraced gardens at Powis. Further south along the border we will find Stokesay Castle, although partly ruined and hardly furnished it is one of the finest and best preserved medieval fortified manor houses.

The Shropshire Hills, designated an area of natural beauty, straddle the border at one point and we will explore them with the help of Peter Carty, National Trust countryside, gardens and parkland manager who will explain how theTrust is managing to conserve this very popular tourist site. Hopefully we’ll have a clear day so that we can see across the whole of Wales to the Irish Sea.

Our hotel, the Telford Hotel & Golf Course set in pleasant parkland, is located on the edge of the two regions and above Ironbridge Gorge, a UNESCO World Heritage Centre. The Gorge is a deep valley containing the River Severn and it is here that the first arch bridge made of cast iron was erected in 1779 by Arthur Darby III.  Cast in the nearby Coalbrookdale blast furnace of 1708 the bridge had a considerable influence on developments in the fields of technology and architecture.

The ironworks brought considerable wealth to the region and we will see the influence of this in some of the surrounding properties and estates, places such as the Attingham Park, Benthall Hall, Sunnycroft, and Wightwick Manor, all National Trust properties. In contrast, in Birmingham we will be transported into the lives of working families when we visit the Back-to-Backs (NT), terraced houses sharing a common back wall.

A highlight of this year’s trip will be a pre-dinner organ recital of works by English composers by the organ scholar of Salisbury Cathedral, followed by supper in the local pub.

This year we will be flying with SN Brussels Airlines from Brussels to Birmingham and our accommodation for five nights is in Q-Hotels’ modern, four-star Telford Hotel & Golf Resort, located beside the golf course and with lovely views over the Shropshire countryside. All the guest rooms are large and the singles have double beds. There is a spa with pool and free wifi. Transport on the ground will be with Tynedale Group Travel and, on the Shropshire Hills we will once again take to minibuses.

For further information please contact Carole Ducastel
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Tel. 0475 22 54 92.