Houses and Gardens Tour: Shropshire and the Welsh Borders RECAP

This year’s Houses and Gardens Tour was a great success. Guests enjoyed their stay at the incomparable Weston Park, a beautiful estate with impeccable service, sumptuous decor and set in 1,000 acres of park landscaped by Capability Brown.  Our tour leader, Gareth Williams, impressed all with his unending knowledge of Shropshire and many other topics.

Here is a link to photos from the tour, participants may add their photos to the album and comment.

As follows is a recap of what we experienced. Although this year will be a tough act to follow, we are planning next year’s tour. Please let Alyson Goldman know if you are interested in attending or would like further information once it is available at agoldman@royal-oak.org or 212.480.2889 ext: 207. Dates will be similar to this year  which were May 30 to June 4, 2017.

Day 1: Arrival & Wightwick Manor and Gardens 


Acanthus in the beds of the Formal Garden at Wightwick Manor, Wolverhampton, West Midlands

Acanthus in the beds of the Formal Garden at Wightwick Manor, Wolverhampton, West Midlands

We started the day with a private visit to Wightwick Manor and Gardens, the former home of the Mander family and a treasury of both the Arts and Crafts period and of an impressive Pre-Raphaelite art collection. Wightwick features a garden created by celebrated Arts & Crafts landscape architect, Thomas Mawson in addition to one of the few photographic dark rooms located on a National Trust property.

Next we arrived at Weston Park for Full English Afternoon Tea. Tea is followed by a tour of the Classical house set in ‘Capability’ Brown parkland with the Foundation’s Curator Gareth Williams.

This evening  we had cocktails and canapes provided by Royal Oak, followed by dinner which accompanied by wine, coffee, and petit fours. Each room at Weston Park contains family heirlooms, antique furniture and period design in addition to modern accommodations.

Day 2: Temple of Diana & Willey Park 


Weston Park

We started the day with a full English breakfast at Weston Park. Following breakfast we tour the Gardens with Head Gardener Martin Gee, whose family has lived and worked at Weston since 1803. The ground of Weston Park combines 1,000 acres of beauty and three centuries of garden design, featuring the contrast of the formal 19th century gardens and the naturalistic style of ‘Capability’ Brown in the 18th century.

We then enjoyed a two course lunch by Head Chef Guy Day with wine in the restored Granary Grill, built in 1767.

WESTON-DiningRoom

Weston Park Dining Room

After lunch, we visited Willey Park, the masterpiece of the Regency architect Lewis Wyatt and seat of Lord & Lady Forester who will host the visit. Willey Park has been in the Forester family since 1740. Educated at The Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester, Lord Forester has been running the Willey shoot for over seven years and in 2008 started letting days to allow visitors to join the family on the property. The Estate holds an unbroken record of shooting since 1825. We will enjoyed afternoon tea and cakes in the Conservatory, and then returned to Weston Park.

In the evening we met for a pre-dinner drink, followed by dinner which will be accompanied by wine, coffee, and petit fours. Weston is used to accommodating distinguished guests, as the G8 Summit Retreat was held here in 1998 and King George V’s daughter Mary, the Princess Royal, honeymooned here.

Day 3: Attingham Park & Longner Hall 


Attingham Park

Beginning with a full English breakfast at Weston Park, we then traveled to Attingham Park for a conservator-led tour of this exceptional neo-classical mansion by Gaelic-speaking architect George Steuart which has recently been represented by the National Trust and stands in a Humphry Repton landscaped park. The picture gallery, designed by John Nash, has recently been the subject of a major restoration campaign and we will learn about its conservation.

We enjoyed Lunch at Cronkhill, a remarkable Quattrocento style villa designed by John Nash for the agent of the Attingham Estate. Owned by the National Trust, our hosts were the current tenants Mr & Mrs Rupert Acton.

Following lunch our afternoon included a visit to Cound Hall, the private baroque home of Mr & Mrs David Waller. Designed by John Prince for the Cressett family, this astonishing house was abandoned and in serious decay which saw it listed on Historic England’s Buildings at Risk Register. Mr and Mrs Waller acquired the house and have restored it to a high standard as their family home within the last twenty years.

In the evening we met for a pre-dinner drink, followed by dinner which will be accompanied by wine, coffee, and petit fours.

Day 4: Powis Castle &  Oakly Park Estate 


Powis Castle

The day started with a full English breakfast at Weston Park.

Following breakfast we had a magnificent private Visit to National Trust property Powis Castle. This Welsh castle built by Prince Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn in 1252 has survived both siege and war. The energy sufficient garden hosts Italianate terraces created from solid rock overlooking spectacular yew hedges.

Our introduction to the Oakly Park Estate began with lunch at Ludlow Kitchen where we will have the opportunity to see some of the modern workings of this vibrant, former Benedictine priory that was converted to a private house by Charles Foxe after 1541.

Following lunch, our visit to Oakly Park continued with a tour of the exceptional collection, partly assembled by Clive of India, with his descendant Viscount Windsor. The Hon. Robert Windos-Clive gave us a very informative tour. Oakly is also famous of its large park, laid out in the 16th century, developed in the 18th and 19th centuries primarily by William Emes.

In the evening we met for a pre-dinner drink, followed by dinner which will be accompanied by wine, coffee, and petit fours.

Day 5: Wedgewood Museum, Wollerton Old Hall and Hodnet Hall Garden 


Wollerton Old Hall

The day started with a full English breakfast at Weston Park.

After breakfast we visited the Wedgwood Museum, our tour was lead by Curator Gaye Blake-Roberts. The Wedgwood Museum located on the Wedgewood Estate houses 3,000 items from the historic ceramic collection, to bring to life the story of Josiah Wedgewood and his influence on industry, society and local infrastructure.

Follwing Wedgwood Museum, we enjoyed a two course lunch with tea/coffee and wine at Wollerton Old Hall with its exceptional gardens, hosted by owners John & Lesley Jenkins. The four acres of gardens echo the English Arts & Crafts style that are a series of linked garden “rooms” filled with modern plantings.

Then we continued on to visit Hodnet Hall Garden, on the property of Hodnet Hall, home of Sir Algernon and the Hon. Lady Heber-Percy, a fine twentieth century garden created by the present owner’s father around a valley and presided over by the late nineteenth century house.

In the evening we met for a pre-dinner drink, followed by dinner which will be accompanied by wine, coffee, and petit fours.

Day 6: Chillington Hall 


Chillington Hall

The day started with a full English breakfast at Weston Park.

Our last visit was to Chillington Hall, the home of Mr and Mrs John Giffard, who are the 29th generation of Giffards to live there. Set in a large park by ‘Capability’ Brown with the largest lake in Staffordshire and vestiges of the earlier landscape in the form of a magnificent mile long oak avenue, Chillington Hall is today an eighteenth century house. Partly baroque, by regional architect builder Francis Smith of Warwick and largely by Sir John Soane, the house contains excellent portraits by Pompeo Batoni and superb examples of Gillow furniture. At Chillington Hall we will enjoy tea, coffee and biscuits.


Tour Leader: Gareth Williams 

Gareth-WilliamsOur tour leader, Gareth Williams, has over 25 years’ experience with historic houses as a researcher and architectural historian and through professional work within the auction world. From 1992 until 2003 Gareth was a furniture and works of art specialist for Phillips and Sotheby’s, ending his auction career as Sotheby’s Regional Director based at Chester.

Gareth went on to work with the National Trust at Nostell Priory in West Yorkshire, with curatorial and conservation responsibility for the highly important contents of the house, a part of which constitutes the most important collection of furniture and decorations by Thomas Chippendale to remain in their indigenous setting.

In June 2006, Gareth was appointed Curator & Head of Learning to the Weston Park Foundation at Weston Park and will be able to give guests a thorough insight into the House and its world class collections.

 


 

What’s Included:

  • Airport transfers via coach
  • 5 nights at Weston Park
  • Welcome drink and canapés
  • Full English breakfast
  • Services of a tour director throughout your stay
  • Travel to and from all excursions
  • All entrance costs
  • Porterage
  • Gratuity for coach driver

Hotel Info:

Weston Park, Shropshire 

Weston Park is no ordinary stately home. Set amongst 1,000 acres of Capability Brown landscaped parkland and former home to the Earls of Bradford, Weston has a rich history, an internationally important art collection and all the grandeur you would expect from a stately home – but with a very modern outlook.The grounds of Weston Park combine 1,000 acres of natural beauty and three centuries of garden design. The formal lines of the 19th century gardens fuse dramatically with the naturalistic style fashioned by Capability Brown in the 18th century.  The park is home to outdoor events, large and small, throughout the year including the V Festival, Midland Game Fair, Camper Jam and Food and Craft Festivals. Guests enjoy exclusive use of the House, alongside five-star service from a dedicated team of butlers, chefs and housekeepers.