Emsworth Museum Holiday 2016
Picture taken on our last day, at Waddesdon Manor.
The first and last day of the holiday our party stopped at National Trust properties, the first, on Monday, being Snowshill Manor, once given by Henry 8th to Catherine Parr that had been bought and restored in the early 20th century by Charles Wade, a compulsive collector. The reasonably small house is crammed with 22,000 diverse objects and 2,000 costumes, ranging from coats of armour, lifelike replicas of Japanese samara warriors to model boats and penny farthings all displayed in the rather gloomy light preferred by Wade.
Tuesday we visited the Black Country Living Museum, created in the 1960s by the industrialist and entrepreneur, the Earl of Dudley. There was a working fairground and over 50 authentic shops in the main street, including a radio store, Hobbs fish and chip shop and a sweet shop, all selling goods from a bygone age. A lesson was taking place in a nearby schoolroom with a strict teacher instructing her pupils (including members of our party) by rote.
After a ride on a double decker bus down to the Dudley canal, we boarded an open canal boat that took us through the 9ft wide tunnels where limestone was extracted up until 1951.The cold atmosphere, narrowness of the tunnels, built in 1775-8, and the dimness of light made us appreciate the hard life of the miners who worked 12 hours a day and suffered many injuries and fatalities. The boats that carried the limestone were not originally pulled by horses, as there were no tow paths, but propelled along by men “legging” along the walls which was ably demonstrated by a father and son on our boat.
From a guided tour of the city on Wednesday, we learnt Worcester has a rich historical and industrial history. Originally founded by the Romans in 50AD the city was provided with a cathedral and bishop by the Saxons, the wool and leather industries were developed in medieval times and Worcester Sauce in 1817. Its greatest historical connection is with the Civil War between the Royalists, supporting Charles 11, and the Roundheads who crushed the Royalists in 1651 causing Charles to flee to France from Worcester where he was in hiding. The ornate Guild Hall with its statue of Charles 11 reminded us of those times.
Worcester is a picturesque city as elegant Georgian streets lead on to buildings such as The Georgian Chapel, with its boxed pews, a central pulpit and a stage now used by tribute bands, quite a contrast to the music of Edward Elgar, Worcester’s famous composer. We also visited the Tudor house built in 1573, the Porcelain Museum telling the history of Worcester porcelain that sadly is no longer made in this country and the impressive cathedral with its 14th century clock and 16 bells, the tomb of King John (of Robin Hood fame) and medieval cloisters that featured in the Harry Potter films.
Breaking our journey home on Thursday, we spent the afternoon at the turreted chateau, Waddesdon Manor, built in the French Renaissance style and previously owned by Ferninand de Rothschild of the banking family. Used for entertaining guests rather than a family home, the 45 roomed Manor’s opulence and wealth of tapestries, art collections and priceless Sevres porcelain are overwhelming. Ornate French furniture in heavy brocade with gold embellishments fill every room except the Bachelor Wing where swords adorn the walls. In the front of the Manor the statues, fountains and colourful formal gardens, surrounded by acres of rolling parkland, were admired as we ate our cream tea in the Manor restaurant before returning to Emsworth after a very enjoyable and varied holiday.
To all participants of the holiday.