Newsletters‎ > ‎

Newsletter May 2014

The HEDFAS Quarterly Newsletter
                                                                                                     May 2014

          A warm welcome to the second of our four editions of the HEDFAS Newsletter for 2014. 

This charming picture of the Oxfordshire countryside reminded me of a delightful childhood poem, Leisure, by W. H. Davies:

                                                                        What is this life if, full of care,
                                                                        We have no time to stand and stare?
                                                                         No time to stand beneath the boughs
                                                                         And stare as long as sheep or cows.
I wonder how many HEDFAS members remember these first four lines, and how they ring true today, with no time in our busy lives to stand quietly and reflect on all the beautiful things that surround us ..... ours to savour and enjoy .... and how precious the time to appreciate them.

Well, we hope that HEDFAS brings you these moments and you feel happy and relaxed in our company, and thoroughly enjoy all that we have to offer.

We have had a splendid three months:  read on to discover all that has happened since our last Newsletter in February.
                                                          A Message from the Chairman, Pauline Simmonds

                 Pauline Simmonds

                    Diana Hadaway

As I begin my second year I would like to say how much I appreciated the friendly help of an excellent Committee as we adjusted to the changeover. They have again planned a splendid programme of events for you to enjoy and I thank you as members for your continued support and enthusiasm.

Shirley Arber and Anne Taylor sadly retired at the AGM after many years of loyal service. I’m sure you will miss seeing them in the ‘front seat’ during our very popular Day Visits and thank them again for all their hard work.  Pat Righelato has kindly joined as a replacement and Jane Fiennes will give much needed secretarial support behind the scenes. We welcome them both onto the Committee and look forward to working together.

And finally I would like to congratulate our Vice President, Diana Hadaway, on her appointment as National Vice Chairman for Heritage Volunteers. She has been a member of HEDFAS for over 20 years, serving as our Chairman from 2002 - 2005 and then Area Chairman for three years. We wish her well in her new post.
                                                         Pauline Simmonds 

Pat Righelato


Jane Fiennes


         Shirley Arber

           Anne Taylor

                                        Here are the first mouth watering details of our spring holiday to the
                          Derbyshire Dales and Peaks from 29th March to 1st April  2015:

              Kedleston Hall (NT)

                       Eyam Hall


                  Renishaw Hall

                      Lee Wood Hotel


The first port of call on our four day trip will be a visit to Kedleston Hall (NT), where we shall have lunch.  Kedleston Hall was designed by Robert Adam as a house to rival Chatsworth and is the seat of the Curzon family. 

We shall also visit Tissington Estate, owned by the Fitzherberts since Elizabeth I, and Eyam, the Plague Village, with its story of courage and sacrifice.

Also on the agenda is the David Mellor Factory and Design Museum (David Mellor is an internationally renowned silversmith and designer of beautiful kitchenware).

         The beautiful Peak District

No trip to Derbyshire would be complete without a visit to Chatsworth, perhaps the finest of all the stately homes, as well as visits to Bakewell and Castleton, with free time to explore the spa town of Buxton.


Castleton Village Green

On our last day we shall visit Renishaw Hall, home of the eccentric Sitwell family for four hundred years and on the way home, Calke Abbey (NT), for a cup of tea.

We shall be staying at the Lee Wood Hotel (3*), a recently re-decorated converted Victorian mansion with well appointed en-suite bedrooms and comfortable lounges.  We shall be dining in the Conservatory Dining Room, overlooking the spa town of Buxton.

                       Tissington Estate 

The David Mellor Factory and
Design Museum

                                                                Calke Abbey

                      The visit will be accompanied by Alvi Shaw and Art Lecturer Sue Jenkins, with Jeremy Brabyn our driver.      
                                             Cost £445 per person (plus single supplement of £45) based on 40+ members.
                                         £100 deposit per person due by 1st September, full payment due by 1st December.
              This includes accommodation on dinner, bed and breakfast basis, three lunches, all entries, guiding and coaching.

                                                   To reserve a place please telephone Alvi Shaw on 0118 940 3147
                                             or email her on to request a booking form.

Our New Members Coffee Morning on 18th March 


This year again we had a most successful New Members Coffee Morning at the Chantry House in Henley.  Pauline Simmonds, our Chairman, welcomed everyone to HEDFAS and gave a brief outline of our many activities, in particular our work with Young Arts, Church Recording and Heritage Volunteers. Committee Members mingled with guests, chatting about all that goes on within HEDFAS and outlining their responsibilities on the committee.  It was a delightful morning and we do hope that all our new members will really enjoy everything that we have to offer. A warm welcome to all!


 News from Young Arts

                                                                Young Arts Projects for the Year get off to a Flying Start


                      Fire the Inventor 
         Automata Workshops
The workshops were held at The Henley Youth Centre on Tuesday 4th and Wednesday 5th March for children from Valley Road, Badgemore, Sacred Heart, St. Mary's, Peppard and Nettlebed schools, sponsored by HEDFAS. 

The children were shown the first principles of how to connect art and technology.  With great skill and determination, under the expert guidance of Steve Guy and volunteers, they created cam-based machines which burst into life at the turn of a handle - a moving toy or automatum - using a mixture of pre-made parts, craft materials and random bits and pieces. 




                                            Elena Real-Davies' Picture is displayed at
                      the 297th Royal Society of British Artists Annual Open Exhibition
                                                            from 5th to 15th March

         The Mall Galleries, London

               Elena at the exhibition

  Louise Marten (HEDFAS Young Arts) 
                        with Elena
  The Royal Society of British Artists (RBA) was established in 1823 as the Society of British Artists, as an alternative to the Royal Academy. The RBA commenced with twenty-seven members, and took until 1876 to reach fifty. The RBA's first two exhibitions were held in 1824, with one or two exhibitions held annually thereafter.  Queen Victoria granted the Society the Royal Charter  in 1887.

The RBA currently has 110 elected members who participate in an annual exhibition every March, held at the Mall Galleries in London. For the last four years NADFAS has joined forces with the RBA and exhibited some twenty pictures chosen from Sixth Form Colleges around the country. The successful students have the title RBA Scholar during the exhibition itself.

HEDFAS submitted three pictures from Henley College. Elena Real-Davis painted Sea Food - Still Life, Luke Simmonds painted Coastal Landscape and Shashi Sing painted Fruit - Still Life.

        Sea Food - Still Life, painted by 
   Elena Real-Davis, was selected for the exhibition.  This is the third year running that a picture from HEDFAS was selected.
       Many congratulations to Elena!
   Andrew Marr admiring Elena's picture

          The three paintings chosen:
            Shashi Sing: Fruit - Still Life

    Luke Simmonds: Coastal Landscape

  Elena Real-Davies: Sea Food - Still Life

       We had  a most memorable Study Day on Thursday 6th March, led by Mr Jon Cannon
                'The Secret Language of Sacred Spaces: religious architecture of the world'


  Jon lives in Marlborough and we were pleased to welcome him on his first visit to Henley.  He is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster whom some of us would have seen when he presented the BBC documentary "How to Build a Cathedral".  His passionate delivery of this intriguing subject took us on an architectural journey of sacred spaces around the world.  He offered us fascinating insights into some of the most impressive religious structures ever built.

We examined the great sites of prehistory and antiquity, including the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome, making connections between our own Silbury Hill and the great Pyramids at Giza.  We explored the major faiths, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and learned how their architecture represents a pinnacle of human achievement. What was truly extraordinary was that people thoughout time came up with similar solutions when building sacred structures, enabling them to worship collectively.  The connection was shown to us between our local Parish Church and fluttering prayer flags on the side of a mountain, reminding us how much we share with the rest of the world, both past and present.

It was an amazing day enjoyed by everyone, with requests for Jon to return, maybe in 2016, for the story to continue.            
                                   Una Murray-Wood


            An unforgettable, sunlit day at Kenwood House and the Village of Hampstead
    with our favourite London guide, the inimitable Mr Andrew Davies, on Tuesday 15th April

   The first unexpected delight of the day -
             The Doggy Coffee Club ....

 The long distance view of central London

      An eclectic mix of superb paintings
                to feast our eyes upon

 Lunch at Kenwood House in the sunshine
The Admiral's House

Mount Vernon Hospital
                           Flask Walk

On the most beautiful Spring day when the sun shone all day, we arrived at Kenwood House to meet our guide Andrew Davies who, in his usual warm and cheerful way, gave an introduction to the history of the house and grounds. 

Firstly he took us to see the most wonderful view over Hampstead Heath and the skyline of London, including many iconic buildings including the Shard, the Post Office Tower, London Eye, the Gherkin and more.  We then saw and heard about the fabulous collection of art including Rembrandt’s self portrait, and notably a view of Hampstead Heath by John Constable.

Kenwood House was looking superb after a period of restoration.

               To complete the picture,
  the rhododendrons were at their best and        the parkland and gardens sparkled
                     in the sunshine. 
After lunch we had a short drive to Hampstead, close to Whitestone Pond, where Andrew told us that we were standing at the highest point in London.  Fortunately we then had a downward walk through the quiet narrow lanes, hearing about the history of some of the most fascinating, varied and attractive property. 

This included The Admiral's House, complete with Poop Deck, and Grove Lodge where John Galsworthy lived during the time he completed the Forsyth Saga. 

Hampstead overflows with blue plaques and others naming many famous inhabitants.  We then saw the original Chateau style Victorian Mount Vernon Hospital, built to house consumption sufferers, now converted into luxury apartments. 

Then we wended our way to the graveyard and parish church of St John where John Constable and other notable people are buried including John (Longitude) Harrison, George du Maurier and Kay Kendall.   The Church has some fine stained glass and memorials to Keats and other local celebrities.

The charm and peace and quiet of this area, despite many properties undergoing renovation, is to be experienced to be believed.  After a further walk around the lower end of Hampstead Andrew guided us to Flask Walk, a narrow passageway with bric-a-brac shops, coffee shops and others, and pointed out where the original spring water was found and eventually became early wells for the local inhabitants. 

We then popped out into the hustle and bustle of Hampstead High Street in search of a cup of tea before meeting our coach.  Andrew joined us briefly as we drove towards Camden Lock, still giving us local information, before jumping out suddenly, giving us all a beaming smile and a cheery wave.

Once again we had all enjoyed a stimulating and enjoyable HEDFAS day out in good company and under the care of Shirley Arber and  Anne Taylor.
                                             Jo Woodyer

 ..... and coffee for us in the sunlit gardens

 The newly refurbished façade of Kenwood

                           The Library

A peaceful moment for Shirley and Andrew

Grove Lodge

A charming residential street

The grave of the late, lamented
Kay Kendall

         Another wonderful HEDFAS spring holiday, this time to Worcester and the Malvern Hills,
                                                              from 22nd to 25th April
                                                                         Chapter 1


          The Fleece Inn, Bretforton

       Witches beware! (The Fleece Inn)

             St Leonard's Church

        Arriving for lunch at Witley Court

  The Perseus and Andromeda Cascade at
                      Witley Court

Tuesday 22nd April
Our party departed on a misty morning to follow the scenic A4 through the Cotswolds to Bretforton in the Vale of Evesham for coffee at The Fleece Inn. 

Built in the 14th Century, The Fleece Inn remained in the ownership of a single family until the direct descendent, Miss Lola Taplin, passed away in 1977.  She had bequeathed it to the National Trust.  The Fleece nearly became history in 2004 when a spark from a chimney set fire to its thatch and aged timbers, but fortunately precious antiques were saved.  A massive renovation was undertaken, the first since the 17th Century.  So The Fleece still retains its traditional features and architecture almost unchanged. 

The outstanding pewter collection has been on display for 300 years.  The white circles have been repainted by the hearth to prevent witches from entering down the chimney.  The atmosphere was completed by an elderly local sitting by the fire enjoying his daily brew.  The inn is still known for its own Morris and ladies’ clog dancing teams and a poster told of the local grown Asparagus Auction soon to take place to raise money for the Bretforton Silver Band.

We visited St Leonard’s Church, dating from the 12th Century, the oldest building in the village, beautifully decorated with Easter flowers.  Two landscape panels were included in one of the windows which is unusual, probably painted glass.  In 2010 a new window was installed near the font, depicting on the left the church, Bretforton Silver Band and Bretforton First School.  The right side depicted The Fleece Inn, The Royal British Legion and “Asparagus Officinalis” Grass.  This was donated by village people to the glory of God.

         Enjoying a well earned lunch!
Alvi had arranged for lunch at our next visit, Witley Court.  Only the ruins now stand of the palatial country house owned by the Foley family from 1655.  They were iron founders in the Midlands.  Each day at various times the restored Perseus and Andromeda cascade fountain displays, a spectacle worth seeing.

The church at Great Witley is the Parish Church, so St Michaels, built by Thomas Foley in the 1730’s, is still in use.  It was the first baroque style church in the country, with panels painted by Antonio Bellucci.  The Biblical narrative windows, painted by John Price, dated 1719, were bought with other fixtures and fittings at the famous auction of the Duke of Chandos’ Canons Estate in Edgeware.

                    Bretforton Village

             The pewter collection at
                    The Fleece Inn                     

The new window at St Leonard's church
installed in 2010

Two Interiors of St Michael's Church,
                        Great Witley

                                                                                                                             Chapter 2


           Alvi Shaw with Elgar in the
                   museum garden

             Enjoying the museum garden

Admiring the cathedral


Wednesday 23rd April
We left Fownes Hotel, originally a glove factory and now an excellent base, with Ann Bartlett, a Blue Badge Guide to travel to the Elgar Birthplace Museum, set in beautiful countryside, with views of the Malvern Hills. 

We saw a video of Elgar’s life, 1857-1934, with his struggle for recognition and his subsequent fame, while we enjoyed coffee.

We then explored the Visitor Centre.  This comprised a compact museum with displays, as well as earphones to listen to Elgar’s music and a shop selling CDs, sheet music and souvenirs. 

Adjacent was the small cottage where Elgar was born. We saw Elgar’s desk where he composed his musical scores, concert programmes, letters and his family tree and photos. Also on display were objects relating to his hobbies - golf, racing and cycling – together with personal possessions.

We then drove through lovely scenery to Great Malvern for lunch, stopping on the way to see a number of houses where Elgar and his family had lived.  Many visited the 925 year old Malvern Priory with its medieval stained glass and tiles, carved misericords from the 14th to 15th Century.

                Great Malvern Priory

Our next visit was to Worcester Cathedral to view Elgar’s portrait in his memorial window.  He had strong links with the cathedral through the Three Choirs Festival.  In the chancel we saw the tomb of (wicked) King John, as well as the chantry chapel created for young Prince Arthur Tudor, the elder brother of Henry VIII, who died aged 15 and is buried here.

             The Elgar Birthplace Museum

            Sue Jenkins with Elgar in the
                 museum garden

  The beautiful view of the Malvern Hills

The tomb of King John

                                                                                                                                 Chapter 3

           A corner of Harvington Hall,
      a medieval moated Tudor mansion

       The guide inside Harvington Hall

              Lunch at the Talbot Inn

The parterre at Hanbury Hall

                  Giving a wave

  The Church of the Sacred Heart and St
 Catherine of Alexandra at Droitwich Spa


Thursday 24th April
Today we travelled to Harvington Hall, a medieval moated Tudor mansion built in the 1580’s by Humphrey Pakington. 

Well known for the number of priest holes, four attributed to Nicholas Owen, this was a Catholic house in the troubled Elizabethan age which has survived virtually unaltered.  In 1644 the hall passed to the Throckmorton family of Coughton Court, Warwickshire, who owned it until 1923 when it was stripped of its furniture and panelling and left almost derelict. 

                     Harvington Hall

In 1923 it was purchased and presented to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham.  In 1936 Tudor wall paintings were discovered under whitewash.

Lunch was in the old coaching Talbot Inn in Chaddesley Corbett.  Afterwards we enjoyed a visit to the church opposite, St Cassians, with its wonderful font with Norman with Saxon designs, the original church being Romanesque.

Our next stop, Hanbury Hall, was built in 1701 by Thomas Vernon in the William and Mary style, set in gardens and park.  The house contains magnificent staircase wall paintings by Sir James Thornhill, who worked on the Painted Hall at Greenwich.  The Hercules rooms have been restored and there is a re-created Gothic corridor. 

          A very welcome cup of tea

Many members had their tea in the rooms overlooking the intricate parterre, which was restored to its 18th Century pattern in the 1990’s, enhanced by lovely sunshine.

On our return journey we visited the Church of the Sacred Heart and St Catherine of Alexandra at Droitwich Spa, decorated with marble and stunning mosaics considered to be amongst the best in England. 

Designed by Gabriel Pippet, (1880-1962), who had spent time in Ravenna and Rome, and crafted by Maurice Josey and Fred Oates, the scenes portray major Biblical themes and stories.


           Coffee at Harvington Hall

    The guide outside Harvington Hall

                        St Cassians

Just a light shower at Hanbury Hall

The three belles of Hanbury!

The stunning mosaics

                                                                                                                                 Chapter 4

                     The Guildhall

Tudor framed black and white houses

Madresfield Court
   Friday 25th April
Today we enjoyed a guided walking tour of Worcester City.  Starting at The Guildhall, there was much to see including the Art Gallery and Museum, the plaque marking the place of the Elgar family musical shop, the Dean’s house, the high water marks of many floods, College Green surrounded by the building of Worcester College, the Museum of Royal Worcester, and the Commandery and historic Friar Street with its Tudor timber framed black and white houses.

After lunch we visited Greyfriars House.  This timber framed merchant’s house was saved by Major Thompson of the Worcester Archaeological Society, and then purchased by Matthew Matley Moore and his sister Elsie to rescue it from demolition.  This little medieval gem, full of interest, was preserved by two ordinary people, who later bought the houses opposite which prevented their destruction.

Our final stop of the holiday was to Madresfield Court, home of the Lygon family since the 12th Century.  This was a moated house, rebuilt in 1865 by Philip Hardwick for the Sixth Earl Beauchamp.  The Lygon family were great collectors of pictures, porcelain, Boulle furniture, silver and much more.  The library is decorated by C R Ashbee of the Cotswold Guild of Handicraft, as is the chapel, with a beautiful altar frontal made by two village sisters.

We could not leave the Vale of Evesham without buying some local asparagus, St George’s Day being the date to start harvesting.

      The Museum of Royal Worcester

                    Greyfriars House

    The Great Hall at Madresfield Court

                                                                         All the gang together, outside Hanbury Hall
                         This was a wonderful tour, full of interest, and our thanks go to Alvi Shaw, the organiser, to Sue Jenkins, 
                     our own Art Lecturer, w
ho gave us much background information, and to our excellent driver, Jeremy Brabyn. 
                                                                                                                         Sadie Cooke and Sheilah Higginson      
                                                    A huge thank you to Alvi Shaw and Tim Green for their wonderful photographs.  Editor                                      


        And finally .......


               No time to see, in broad daylight,
              Streams full of stars, like skies at night .........

              A poor life this if, full of care,
              We have no time to stand and stare.
                                                                   W. H. Davies



It seems this little boy has found time to stand and stare .... is this the embodiment of peace?

We do hope you have had some peaceful, happy moments reading this newsletter and have thoroughly enjoyed it all.

       We look forward to welcoming you to the
           next lecture on Thursday 19th June
                    El Greco and Toledo 
                given by Ms Sian Walters