Songs, Socialising and Supper at Moor Park

On 26 October we celebrated our return to social get-togethers after so long apart. 80 members enjoyed a welcome drink in the Main Hall at Moor Park Mansion. That soon broke the ice and got conversations going. Supper followed in Moor Park's renovated and glittering Dining Room where between courses we could sit back and enjoy the singing of Lauren Joyanne Morris, accompanied by pianist Patrick Milne.

The evening was brilliantly organised by Alison Donnelly and Angela Stein recruited the two superb young musicians.

These two short videos of our entertainers were recorded by Urszula Gudiens, Do have a look and listen.

2021 UK FIVE DAY TOUR OF YORKSHIRE

Yet another exciting visit organised by Gill Cooper. This year it was to see the Art, Heritage & Historic Houses of Yorkshire in October 2021. This is her report on the trip:

THE ART, HISTORIC HOUSES & HERITAGE OF YORKSHIRE 3 - 7 OCTOBER 2021
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After 18 months of being in “lock-down“, in our homes due to the corona- virus epidemic, 38 members of the Society joined a coach at Rickmansworth Station on Sunday morning. We were transported up the M1 to the York Marriott Hotel (previously The Chase Hotel), overlooking York racecourse (The Knavesmire), which was where we spent the following four nights. En route we stopped at Temple Newsam near Leeds. One of the finest historic houses in Yorkshire and currently owned by Leeds City Council, we were delighted to be given a guided tour. The house contains treasures of Chippendale furniture, silver ceramics and fine art. It also has a rich history of links to royalty through plots and intrigue, including the notorious, immature Lord Darnley, the second husband of Mary Queen of Scots. We enjoyed a cream tea before leaving but had to evict a gate crasher before doing so!

The following day dawned bright and sunny and we enjoyed a beautiful drive through the villages and across the North Yorkshire moors to Whitby. We enjoyed a guided walking tour of this lovely fishing port with our blue badge guide. Whitby is dominated by the cliff top ruins of its 13th century abbey and has old cobbled streets, pretty houses and a sandy beach. In the afternoon we made a nostalgic steam train journey from Whitby to Pickering through the picturesque North Yorkshire moors on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway run by volunteers. This railway has gone from strength to strength since being restored in 1967 and has featured on television and film, including “Harry Potter”. 

With our blue badge guide on a wet Tuesday morning, we visited Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens. Together, the Cistercian abbey, Georgian water garden, medieval deer park, Elizabethan hall and Victorian church offer an unparalleled opportunity to appreciate the range of England’s heritage at this World Heritage Site. Even in the rain it was a stunning sight.

We returned to York in the afternoon to visit the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall for a guided tour. Built between 1357 and 1361, it is one of the best-preserved medieval guild halls in the world.

Wednesday morning we enjoyed a guided walking tour of York, taking in such sights as the City walls and The Shambles plus a visit to the Minster, the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe. After lunch we visited Fairfax House for a guided tour, a stunning Georgian town house brimming with decorative flourishes and artistic treasures and displaying some of the finest 18th century period furniture in England.

On Thursday we checked out of our hotel and en route home we visited Harewood House, the home of the Queen’s cousin, the Earl of Harewood. Set in 1,000 acres of Capability Brown landscape and a modern bird garden it is renowned for its stunning architecture, exquisite Adam interiors, a plethora of Chippendale furniture and a fine art collection.

A very busy, action packed five days with good food and wine each evening, which hopefully was enjoyed by all.



Gill Cooper


9th October 2021

2019 UK FIVE DAY TOUR TO SHROPSHIRE & IRONBRIDGE

Following our exciting visit, organised by Gill Cooper, to see the Heritage & Historic Houses of Shropshire and Ironbridge in late April 2019, she wrote the following account:

THE HERITAGE & HISTORIC HOUSES OF SHROPSHIRE & IRONBRIDGE - 28 APRIL – 2 MAY 2019


34 members boarded the coach at Rickmansworth for a five day trip to Shropshire.  En route we stopped at Hanbury Hall in Worcester, a homely William and Mary style house it is famed for its fine painted ceilings and staircase by Sir James Thornhill.  We continued after lunch to The Park House Hotel in Shifnal which was to be our home for the next four nights and where we enjoyed a welcome drink prior to dinner.

The following day we enjoyed a half day guided tour with our Blue Badge guide of the Ironbridge Gorge and some of its museums and its famous bridge - the great symbol of the success of the iron industry and the birthplace of the industrial revolution.  The bridge was cast in 1779 by Abraham Darby the 3rd.  Its great arch draws visitors from all over the world to admire its construction.  In the afternoon we visited Attingham Park, an 18th century mansion with fine silver and Italian furniture and paintings from the Grand Tour.

A walking tour of Shrewsbury on the third day took in the Norman castle, St. Mary's Church and the black and white 'magpie' houses so typical of the Welsh Marches.  This was followed by free time to explore until we met after lunch to visit Powis Castle in Wales. Its gardens are laid out under the influence of Italian and French styles and they still retain their original lead statues.  The castle has one of the finest collections of paintings and furniture in Wales.

On day four we visited the historic town of Bridgnorth where we had some free time before taking a 16 mile steam train excursion from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster on the Severn Valley Railway - a lovely way to explore the beauty of the River Severn.  Unexpectedly, from the train, we saw elephants and rhinos in the West Midland Safari Park at Bewdley!  In the afternoon we visited Stokesay Castle. This perfectly preserved 11th century medieval fortified Manor House nestles in a valley in the heart of Shropshire.

En route for home on the fifth day we visited Charlecote Park in Warwickshire. The home of the Lucy family for over 900 years it was built in the 1550's of warm red bricks and decorated in Warwickshire stone.  The house has a fascinating history and fabulous grounds including herds of deer.

A most successful and enjoyable tour with good weather to enhance the beautiful Shropshire countryside.

Gill Cooper


6 May 2019

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The Treasures of Umbria - 2019 Five Day Tour from Perugia to Assisi

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The 2019 overseas tour arranged and guided by Siân Walters from Art History in Focus captivated its audience from 23rd to 27th September 2019.  Diana May has provided the following brief review.
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This holiday, wonderfully organised by Siân Walters of Art History in Focus and The Art Society Moor Park's  Anne Harris,  for forty of us, was based in Città di Castello, an attractive walled town perfectly placed for exploring the exquisite works of  painters such as Giotto, Raphael, Perugino and Piero della Francesca. This had been preceded by an introductory visit to explore works by Umbrian artists in London's National Gallery.

The Hotel Tiferno on a pretty and central square was comfortable, with nice breakfasts, and delicious dinners with local wines most nights. 

On Tuesday we had an introductory walking tour through Città di Castello, visiting the church of San Domenico where Raphael’s Mond Crucifixion (National Gallery) once hung, as well as the local art gallery, an elegant C.15th palace once owned by Vitelli family, with masterpieces by local artists from Signorelli to the young  Raphael.  We then drove to nearby Sansepolcro, the home town both of Luca Pacioli (inventor of double-entry book-keeping),  and of Piero della Francesca . We visited the Duomo with its C.14 altarpiece, and then the Museo Civico for a guided tour and to see his most famous painting, The Resurrection of Christ, which Aldous Huxley described as 'the best picture in the world'.

On Wednesday we enjoyed exploring hill-top Assisi and learning about San Francesco. After Francis’s death in 1226 his home town suddenly became a great focus of attention and a huge basilica dedicated to him was built.   His tomb is in the basement, then there is the church with the famous series of frescoes dedicated to St Francis' life traditionally attributed to Giotto;  with the renovated frescoes by Cimabue in the basilica above (en route we had seen the dramatic film of its near-destruction by earthquake in 1997).  Afterwards, we drove to a nearby family-run vineyard, to stroll through the vines and the olive trees before a private wine-tasting.

Thursday brought us modern art, of one Alberto Burri, displayed in the old tobacco-drying sheds of Città di Castello (previously used for drying out Venice's artworks damaged in the 1966 floods). Happily,  we then drove to elegant Perugia, especially its medieval square dominated by the Fontana Maggiore.  We marvelled at Perugino’s beautiful frescoes in the tiny Collegio del Cambio (he was greatly influenced by Piero della Francesca, and taught the young Raphael), lunched,  then saw many Madonnas etc in the Palazzo dei Priori, the impressive medieval town hall which now contains the National Gallery of Umbria.

Friday  was an amazing visit to  Arezzo. After coffee in the Caffe dei Constanti we went to the C.13 church of San Francesco, where we saw Piero della Francesca’s famous frescoes (featured in 'The English Patient') dedicated to the Finding of the True Cross It was also the hometown of  Giorgio Vasari, polymath and author of  'Lives of the Artists'.  Heads spinning with glorious images, we drove to Pisa for the journey home via Luton. 
 

Young Arts Area Meeting 19 September 2019

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Our Young Arts group hosted the Herts and Beds Area Society meeting on 19 September.

17 representatives of the local area societies were treated to a guided tour of Moor Park Mansion and surroundings.  This included viewing the sundial, sponsored by our Young Arts group, made by pupils at Bishop Ramsey School and presented to Moor Park in 2018.

After a refreshing sandwich lunch, information and ideas were shared with great enthusiasm and everyone felt more connected and better prepared for their role as Young Arts representatives of their Societies.

A big thank you to our Young Arts Area chairman Caroline Barnes, our Heritage Volunteers and Moor Park for helping us to make it a success.

Angela Stein

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