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Newsletter December 2012

                                                                                                  The HEDFAS Newsletter
                                                                                               December 2012
to the first edition of our new look, on-line newsletter. 

HEDFAS has had a most interesting
and busy year in 2012 . The introduction of email has proved a great success and we are pleased that so many members are happy to receive communications from us in this way.
I do hope you will enjoy this pictorial odyssey of all that we have done this year and it will bring back many happy memories for you. 
I would like to extend my warmest thanks to all those who have contributed reports to the Newsletter. It has been a great pleasure to compile and I am sure you will find it interesting and entertaining.  As always, if you would like to send us comments and suggestions, please email us on   We are always pleased to hear from you.  

A Message from the Chairman
What an exciting year this has been for us all - The Queen's Jubilee, the Olympics and Para-Olympics - and now the first HEDFAS Newsletter via e-mail. We do look forward to hearing from you with opinions on this new formatting, perhaps at our Social Event in January 2013, giving you an opportunity to meet your Committee and chat about your Society. May I thank you for your support and interest and wish you all a very happy New Year.

                                                                                                          Alvi Shaw     

 1.  Visit to National Gallery        Thursday 12th January
 2.  Update from Church Recorders              February
 3.  New Members' Coffee Morning  Wednesday 8th February
 4.  Visit to Dulwich Picture Gallery  Tuesday 21st February    
 5.  Study Day "The Ancient Greek Olympics"  Thursday 1st March
 6.  Young Arts: Henley Youth Festival  Saturday 7th March
 7.  Holiday in Newcastle and Tyneside  Sunday 15th - Wednesday 18th April
 8.  Visit to Watts Gallery and Loseley Park  Thursday 3rd May
 9.  Visit to St Pancras and Kings Cross with Andrew Davies  Thursday 7th June
 10.  Study Day: "Mosaic to Oil Painting in Northern Italy"  Monday 11th June
 11.  Visit to Strawberry Hill and Chiswick Gardens  Monday 23rd July
 12.  Young Arts: Presentations to Henley College Students  Thursday 20th September
 13.  Holiday in Bologna, Ravenna, Mantua and Parma  Monday 1st - Friday 5th October
 14.  Two visits to Legal London with Andrew Davies  Monday 17th October/Wednesday 24th October
 15.  News from HEDFAS Volunteers  October
 16.  Study Day:"The Scottish Colourists from the Jazz Age"  Thursday 1st November
 17.  Visit to Blenheim Palace  Wednesday 12th December
 18.  HEDFAS' new mode of transport  December
1.                  Our first visit of the year was to the National Gallery for a guided tour of the
Caravaggio paintings on Thursday 12th January
Following and complementing an excellent lecture given last October by Alice Foster entitled ‘Caravaggio and the Counter Reformation’ a group of members enjoyed a most interesting visit to the National Gallery. The theme of the lecture was continued by Alice and a fellow guide who brought the paintings of Caravaggio and Carracci to life. A more detailed description can be seen on the HEDFAS website.
We were encouraged to discover and observe the techniques and symbols used to illustrate the ideals of the Counter Reformation movement of the day.

The enthusiasm and wealth of knowledge of our guides was much appreciated as we were introduced to, amongst other paintings, "Supper at Emmaus". Standing before the original painting we all felt drawn into the meal that was taking place before us.
Many thanks to Shirley Arber and Anne Taylor for a very special day.
                                     Geraldine Crippen



2.                                              An Update from our Church Recorders


 As group leader of the Henley/Goring Church Recorders I am pleased to announce that the record of St. Mary the Virgin, Henley-on-Thames should be completed after a five year period by the end of 2013.

For a new group this historic and interesting church, given its size, has been a challenging but rewarding experience.


A recent survey of volunteer hours revealed that as a group of 26 an average of 210 hours per month has been invested in this project.

We count ourselves fortunate to be working in such an ancient and beautiful church with the comfort of modern facilities.


I do hope that many of you will be able to see the completed record in due course.

                                    Geraldine Crippen


3.                                       Our Second Coffee Morning for New Members,
Wednesday 8th February


On Wednesday 8th February we held our second Coffee Morning at The Chantry House to welcome this year's new members. We had a bonanza of a morning - 45 new members graced us with their presence and we, the Committee, were truly delighted to welcome them all. Over coffee and cakes (deliciously scrummy at 11.00 a.m.!) the
Committee chatted to everyone, telling them a little of our many and varied activities that we enjoy so much together. Alvi Shaw, our Chairman, gave us a most interesting short talk on how NADFAS was started, and how HEDFAS was born just a few years later, under the expert leadership of Françoise White.
We made several new friends on such a happy morning and were delighted that so many new members could join us.  We hope that you will really enjoy HEDFAS and are very proud that it is such a lively member society of NADFAS.

4.                              Our Visit to Dulwich Picture Gallery on Tuesday 21st February

 Under sunny skies, Dulwich Village looked even more beautiful than usual when we arrived for our visit . After a welcome coffee break, we made our way to Dulwich Picture Gallery, England's first purpose built art gallery, designed by Sir John Soane and first opened to the public in 1817. Our guide showed us works by Poussin, Murillo,Rubens and Gainsborough among the permanent collection acquired by Sir Francis Bourgeois and his friend Noel Desenfans in the 18th and 19th centuries.We heard the sad stories of the characters depicted in the paintings such as that of Elizabeth Linley in Gainsborough's "The Linley Sisters" whose unhappy marriage to Richard Brinsley Sheridan brought an end to her promising career as a talented singer and musician and we were told of her early death from tuberculosis.

We then had free time to visit the Van Dyck exhibition where we saw a few portraits including the well known early self-portrait as a young man.The show focused on his 1624 visit to Palermo and there were several devotional portraits, notably of St Rosalia whose relics were said to protect the city from the plague and whose festival is celebrated to this day in Sicily. A skull and roses are her symbols in paintings.

We enjoyed a leisurely lunch at an Italian restaurant in the village called Rocca before setting off to Henley.

Our warmest thanks to Shirley and Anne for  organising a great day.
                                     Eileen Rhind-Tutt


5.                   Our Study Day on The Ancient Greek Olympics on Thursday 1st March

 With the 2012 Olympics approaching, members were invited to take a look back at the original site and re-live this important event. Dr Neil Faulkner, the lecturer, had researched the area himself as an archaeologist and published a new book on the subject. Many had visited Greece on holiday, but as he identified the stories on the red-figure vases, interpreted the records and explained the venues, members found themselves asking question after question on a whole range of previously unexplored issues.
After lunch in the Club Room, with some delicious cakes and a coffee, we all returned for a further “visit” but the day turned out to be more than just a “tourists guide.” It was a fascinating in-depth look at ancient customs and priorities and we learnt a great deal. It might have been easier to obtain a seat at the Games in 338 BC, but inter-city rivalry, cheating and threats from different political factions were still a problem! 

                                   Pauline Simmonds




 6.          Young Arts triumphs again with sponsorship of the Henley Youth Festival in March

The 19th annual Henley Youth Festival started with an explosion of colour and imagination on Saturday 17th March with "Commotion in the Square", featuring original music and performing arts, all on display in Falaise Square, Henley-on-Thames.


 The Festival's arts events were proudly sponsored by HEDFAS and the day was a resounding success. Even the rain couldn't dampen the children's spirits.

Alvi Shaw, Chairman of HEDFAS, said: "One of the things we pursue actively is to encourage an enthusism and love of art in the young and this is absolutely the right sort of event to be sponsoring. It looked wonderful." And wonderful it certainly looked, with the children's shining eyes and broad smiles as they exhibited the fruits of their hard work so carefully crafted over the previous months.

Our Young Arts representative and Committee Member, Louise Marten, masterminded much of the whole event with consummate skill and infectious enthusiasm. Her inspirational ideas and absolute commitment are inexhaustable.

We owe a debt of thanks to Louise for taking on this role and continuing to fly the HEDFAS Young Arts banner with such professionalism.

7.                           For our first holiday we visited Newcastle and Tyneside from
Sunday 15th April to Wednesday 18th April
                                                                      Chapter 1
Around 7.00 a.m. on a beautiful spring morning, Jeremy Brabyn headed the HEDFAS coach up Remenham Hill to start our journey into the North East.
Leaving the A1 near Ripon, North Yorkshire, we arrived in time for lunch at Newby Hall, home of the Compton family. During the journey, Sue Jenkins outlined the highlights we should look out for – a feast of Robert Adam, showcasing a magnificent collection acquired by William Weddell during his Grand Tour which ended in 1766, not to mention a series of wonderful exhibits from the catalogue of Thomas Chippendale.

There was an opportunity to explore the gardens and grounds before our scheduled guided tour of the house.

Created in the early 1920’s and described as a “Garden for all Seasons”, it includes one of Europe’s longest double herbaceous borders which slope gently down to the River Ure, bordered by numerous compartmented gardens, including water, rock and rose, which although somewhat subdued at so early in the season, were still stunning with spectacular splashes of early spring blossom. The garden features a “ride-on” model railway and river trips.

The house is a perfectly proportioned red brick and stone Wren design which Adam altered and changed into a Georgian “Age of Elegance” family home of fine marble, plasterwork and decoration, providing a perfect backdrop to all the exquisite furnishings. Star turns in this galaxy are the bespoke Gobelins tapestries. But after the sublime, should one not mention the chamber pot collection, or the room painted with French mottoes around the ceiling and on the furniture? The Victorian billiard room contains the Edinburgh Gold Cup of 1882 won under House colours – which is, of course, silver. All this and so much else appreciated under excellent guidance.
Passing the “Angel of the North” we found our way to our hotel, The Holiday Inn at Seaton Burn on the northern outskirts of the city, well appointed with a swimming pool for the more energetic among us.
                                                                       Chapter 2
The next day we met our guide, Jan Williams. She is a Geordie, which we now take to mean a voter for King George when confronted by a Jacobite Pretender. She began our introduction to Tyneside with a tour of the city.

We crossed the iconic bridges in every direction, visited the Church of England cathedral featuring the memorial to Newcastle’s Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood and admired the other cathedrals – Basil Hume’s Roman Catholic one and Jackie Milburn’s St James Park Football ground (Magpies) and of course the “New” Castle.
Robert Stephenson’s high level road/rail bridge, the world’s first such, was, we learned, declared “open" by Queen Victoria from inside her railway carriage. She had no intention of venturing out into the rain.
A tour round the Laing Art Gallery was made truly memorable by Sue Jenkins’ scholarly guidance and explanation of “ruralism” so apparent in a number of the works, along with much else. We were later to visit Cullercoats, of the “school” and the fishing community featured in the art.
We then admired the Georgian splendour of Grey Street, celebrating Charles Grey, of the Reform Bill and of course the tea, on a brief walking tour of the city centre.
Descending to the river, there followed an opportunity to appreciate the Millennium rising footbridge which links the patch of Gateshead now so designated, on the north bank, with Gateshead proper on the south bank, along with the spectacular cultural gems of the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and Norman Foster’s Sage Gateshead with its twin auditoria and linking rehearsal space all within a giant glass bubble.
A drive along the north bank of the Tyne followed which took in Wallsend and the remnant of that extraordinary feat of Roman engineering personally launched by Emperor Hadrian with evidence of the engineering of later local heroes of shipbuilding, coal mining and the railways which of course include William Armstrong and George Stephenson.
The industrial grit gave way to elegance as we approached the coast at Tynemouth which boasted its own chocolatier and followed it through Whitley Bay to pass Seaton Delaval Hall.
Our musical appreciation was enhanced this day by learning of the sponsorship deals done to get a mention in the popular song “The Bladon Races” and seeing the “sand gate” of the Keelrow.
                                                                        Chapter 3
Day 3 took us into the country, visiting Heddon on the Wall, to see a part of Hadrian’s Wall. From there we travelled to Corbridge, a lovely market town before heading to Cragside, William Armstrong’s spectacular technologically ground-breaking home in a setting which perfectly fitted the description on its box! This is the pride of the National Trust in the North.
Our drive introduced us to the big landscapes of the Roman frontier and the marauding Border Reivers but also that of a young Lancelot Capability Brown, not to mention Bobbie Shaftoe.
                                                                                                                                    Chapter 4
Day 4 and our return journey took us to Gibside and its delightful Palladian chapel, before heading south for a lunch stop at Clumber Park, estate of the Dukes of Newcastle. The house was demolished in 1938 but the gothic chapel and buildings associated with the stables and walled gardens are eventually reached after a lengthy journey through the 3899 acres of parkland and lake.
After near perfect weather for the entire trip, a cold and wet day rather dampened enthusiasm to wander far in the parkland.
A clear run south with careful driving by Jeremy brought us safely home with so much more knowledge, experience and appreciation than we had when we set off. 
In short, this was another great success for Alvi, Sue and HEDFAS.
                                                Tim Green

8.                           Our Visit to Watts Gallery and Loseley Park on Thursday 3rd May












 In May the outing to Watts Gallery in Compton, near Guildford, was excellent with two guides, both of whom were very knowledgeable on all of the work by Frederick Watts. The gallery, originally commissioned by his wife, has recently been beautifully restored.
Watts moved to "Limnerslease" in Compton in 1891,  and with his artist wife Mary Fraser-Tytler, planned a museum devoted to his work, which opened in April 1904, just before his death.
The architect of the Gallery was Christopher Hatton Turnor, an admirer of Edwin Lutyens and C.F.A. Voysey.

Inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, the building contains top-lit galleries that allow Watts's work to be displayed under natural light. It is one of the few galleries in the UK devoted to a single artist, and has recently been marketed as "a national gallery in the heart of a village".

Watts Gallery was placed second in the final of the BBC TV series Restoration Village in 2006. In December 2006 Watts Gallery received a £4.3 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for renovations to help safeguard the future of the building and its collections.  The Gallery plans further fund-raising to reach the projected £10 million restoration costs.

The Watts Gallery reopened in June 2011 after a major scheme of works, including extension, refurbishment and restoration. This project was designed by ZMMA Architects.

After a pleasant lunch at the restaurant at Loseley Park, we had three guides to show us round this magnificent historic manor house situated outside Guildford, near Compton. The estate was acquired by the direct ancestors of the current owners, the More-Molyneux, at the beginning of the 16th century, who now reside there. Loseley appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Losele. The papers of Sir Thomas Cawarden, Master of the Revels, were formerly preserved in the house.

The present house was built between 1562 and 1568 with stone brought from the ruins of Waverley Abbey. The new house replaced a smaller one which Elizabeth I declared was not 'adequate' for her to visit and requested something larger be built. The great hall is the principal room containing panelling from Henry VIII's Nonsuch Palace, a minstrel's gallery, carvings by Grinling Gibbons, panels from Henry VIII's banqueting tents and a collection of royal and family portraits. The drawing room has a gilded ceiling decorated for James I's visit and a chalk fireplace. The carvings above the library fireplace (dated 1570) commemorate one of Elizabeth I's visits. Two bedrooms named the King's Room and the Queen's Room were used by James I and Elizabeth I respectively. The house contains one of the few paintings of Anne Boleyn.

The walled garden, based on a design by Gertrude Jekyll, contains a series of "rooms" with different themes running through them. The redevelopment of the garden commenced in 1993/4 with the Rose Garden and continued with the Herb Garden, Flower Garden, White Garden and, most recently, the organic Vegetable and Cut Flower Garden.

In spite of the light rain we had a splendid day, though it was perhaps a little too early in the year to see the garden at its best.












9.         Our Visit to St Pancras and Kings Cross with Andrew Davies on Thursday 7th June

I set off on my first ever HEDFAS outing with high expectations having being told by many members that the guide was one of the very best and also because, although I had lived in London for the 38 years prior to moving to Henley six years ago and had actually taught in the Kings Cross area at one point, I really did not have any historical knowledge of or know about the new developments in and around St Pancras and King’s Cross.

We had an excellent journey on the coach, actually arriving earlier than planned but Andrew was there waiting for us.

We toured the St Pancras International Station renovated during the 2000s at a cost of £800 million. Andrew described how the platforms had been extended into William Barlow’s Train shed, the largest single span structure when constructed in 1868 using existing pillars and a concrete base to take the much longer Eurostar trains as well as still accommodate the many mainline and underground trains that have always used the station.

It was very interesting to hear that the surplus pillars were purchased by a famous Henley resident Sir William McAlpine and are now on his estate – our very own ‘Stonehenge!’  It was really good to see how the contemporary structures had been so successfully linked to the wonderful old existing ones.

We wandered into the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, formerly the Victorian Gothic Midland Grand Hotel to admire the splendid staircase but at £2,000 per night most of us, I think felt that it might not be where we would stay on our next visit to the Capital!

Finally we must not forget Martin Jennings' statue of Sir John Betjeman,  who successfully saved the station from demolition in the 1960’s, nor the controversial bronze statue of "The Meeting Place" by Paul Day.

The British Library has its home in this area as does the University of the Arts London constructed on the site of the former Granary.

Unfortunately the weather was not kind to us in the afternoon but, being British and heeding Andrew’s ‘ignore the rain’ we carried on regardless to walk to the Regent’s Canal, to go inside the Victorian St Pancras Old Church  in the churchyard of which there is Sir John Soane’s Mausoleum, the inspiration for the red telephone box.

We visited the Camley Street Natural Park, a community wildlife reserve and Andrew pointed out Somers Town and many other buildings and told us of  future plans such as refurbishing The German Gymnasium as a restaurant, new housing, creating a park area and all of this on the north side of the Euston Road, the world’s first by-pass and  in what was known as ‘The Red Light District of London’. I just hope that they will continue to restore the old Victorian buildings fitting in the new sympathetically alongside as they have done so far.

I would like to end by thanking Shirley and Anne for their perfect organisation and agree that Andrew really is an excellent guide – enthusiastic, very knowledgeable and very clear and easy to follow. I look forward to my next HEDFAS Day Out!  

                                                   Jackie Harrison

10.                   Our Study Day entitled "From Mosaic to Oil Painting in Northern Italy"
                                                                on Monday 11th June
On a wet cold June day members were happy to be transported to the warmer climes of Northern Italy. Sue Jenkins, the lecturer, examined the colourful mosaics in Ravenna, visited the Courts of the Gonzagas at Mantua, highlighted Duccio’s grand altarpiece and interpreted the baroque style of Guido Reni.
The examples were specific to the area but the techniques used could apply to any art work and these details were examined with the help of some excellent close-up images. The methods used to apply gold-leaf, wet plaster, and pigment mixes were all carefully explained and linked to the changing fashions, as contemporary patrons demanded something ‘new’.
In future members will now, I guess, take a more ‘informed look’. They have been expertly ‘educated’ but with lunch and a chat over coffee the day also proved to be great ‘fun’ - in the usual NADFAS tradition!
                                    Pauline Simmonds
11.                     Our Visit to Strawberry Hill and Chiswick Gardens on Monday 23th July 







The outing to Strawberry Hill House, the home of Horace Walpole, was most interesting.  Due to a lottery grant the complete refurbishment of the house had just been completed and every component has been restored using the techniques and building materials of the time of the original structure.  The house is yet to be furnished and I think it would be well worth a second visit once this has been done.  Strawberry Hill, the magical fairytale castle, was once the home of Horace Walpole (1717-1797), and has been restored to its 18th century glory.
He acquired the lease from a Mrs Chenevix in 1747, buying the property the following year.  Discovering that it came with a piece of land known as Strawberry Hill Shot, he christened the house Strawberry Hill. 

He spent the rest of his life "building a little Gothic castle", in writing gossipy waspish letters, histories, and founding a printing press there in 1757. Late in life he inherited the title given first to his father and, following the deaths of his elder brothers, became the 4th Earl of Orford.

After a very nice lunch in the restaurant at Strawberry Hill House, we spent a pleasant few hours nearby in Chiswick Gardens.   The gardens are beautiful and were originally of a standard Jacobean design, but from the 1720s they were in a constant state of transition. Authors of antiquity, such as Horace and Pliny, were major influences on 18th century thinkers through their descriptions of their own gardens, with alleys shaded by trees, parterres, topiary and fountains.

The first architect of the gardens at Chiswick appears to have been the King's gardener, Charles Bridgeman (1690-1738), who was believed to have worked on the gardens with Lord Burlington around 1720, and subsequently with William Kent, whom Lord Burlington had brought back with him on his return from his second Grand Tour in 1719.  Burlington and Kent experimented with new designs, incorporating such diverse elements as mock fortifications, a Ha-ha, classical fabriques, statues, groves, faux Egyptian objects, bowling greens, winding walks, cascades and water features.






12.     Young Arts Presentations to Henley College Students on Thursday 20th September



Thursday 20th September was a very special day, not just for HEDFAS, but for three exceptionally gifted Henley College Students. In conjunction with HEDFAS Young Arts, the work of these three Sixth Form students from Henley College has been selected to be put forward for a national competition. In recognition of this, Lady Camoys, President of HEDFAS, presented them each with a prize of £50 and a certificate of excellence, before the morning lecture.

NADFAS, together with the Royal Society of British Artists, is organising their third annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London in March 2013. Sixth Form Colleges around the country have been encouraged to put forward work to be considered for inclusion in this exhibition. Twenty-two pieces will be selected.

James Horton, President of the RBA, with the help of a selection panel, will choose works to be hung alongside professional artists. They will make their decision known in December. All successful students will have the title RBA Scholar during the exhibition itself. Naturally all NADFAS/HEDFAS members are encouraged to attend.

Louise Marten, our Young Arts Committee Member, has been working closely with Henley College on this project. Danny Leyland painted the picture of the girl with her head inclined, Adam Langer the picture of the man’s head and Anna Kent-Muller the portrait of the young girl.  Joe Ardy, assistant Programme Leader for Art, Ceramics and Photography at Henley College, also attended the presentation. We wish them luck and will let you know the result, and the date of the exhibition, in due course. 


On 10th December Louise received an email from NADFAS stating that Danny Leyland, 19,  had been selected for the exhibition with his picture of the girl looking down with flowers on her jacket.

Danny is now at Oxford Brookes University taking a one year Art Foundation Course.  He hopes to go on to study fine art at the Ruskin School, Oxford. His work is an oil on board portrait of a friend, entitled Matilda.

This year 52 Societies submitted over 465 works of art from 87 schools, and the RBA had a huge challenge in their selection.  See all the selected work at

The exhibition will be from 6th - 17th March at The Mall Galleries in London.



13.                         Our Holiday in Bologna, Ravenna, Mantua and Parma from
                                                     Monday 1st to Friday 5th October
Chapter 1
On 1st October, Alvi Shaw and Sue Jenkins led a party of more than forty HEDFAS members to Emilia Romana, a region in the Po valley stretching between the Adriatic coast and the Apennines. Returning from our first full day excursion, Alvi had the difficult and sad task of telling everyone that Mary Ostroumoff had died unexpectedly in her hotel bedroom during the night. Despite this very unhappy circumstance, Alvi’s and Sue’s attention to detail however big or small never wavered, allowing the rest of us to relax and fully appreciate the cornucopia of treats they had arranged.
It might, however, have been better planned not to have asked the group to assemble under the Statue of Neptune, near Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore, on the first afternoon. The sea god, erected by Pope Pius IV as a symbol to quell Catholic waters stirred by the Reformation, directed torrents of rain onto us as we began to visit the medieval city.

Bologna established the first university in the western world in 1088. In order to accommodate students from all parts of Europe, 38 km of porticos supported expanded upper floors and helped to keep us dry. As well as visiting the City Hall, where a wide shallow staircase enabled horses to be ridden to the first floor, we toured some of the early University buildings. It was possible to enter the wood panelled Anatomical Theatre where artists had mixed with students to watch dissections. Beyond, where in the 2nd century AD, a temple to Isis had been erected in a grove, there is now a cluster of churches at St Stephano in a small piazza. They are called the Seven Churches. Only four survive to visit now. In the smallest and earliest, seven columns from the pagan shrine surround a half size replica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

Returning towards the Piazza Maggiore, water dripped down our necks as we peered up at two medieval towers, built side by side, lurching in different directions at the top. Then back to the Hotel Tre Vecchi for our first evening.



Chapter 2
The sun shone for the rest of the week. One guide remarked that it was unusually warm for that time of the year. It meant that we could see the sparkle of reflected and refracted light in the smalti, glass and gold mosaics of Ravenna.
The invasion of coach parties from a cruise ship reversed the order in which we visited the churches, starting with St Apollinare in Classe outside the city.
We entered a brick church, surrounded by a few trees in a flat plain, into a space of light and white marble columns. Above the altar, Apollinare, the first bishop of the city, sat guarding his flock of sheep in a green mosaic landscape of rocks and trees beneath a golden sky. Above the arch, apostles in a sunset sky watched twelve sheep trailing towards Jesus.
The Byzantine dresses of twenty two virgins glittered in the morning sun when we entered St Apollinare Nuevo, mainly decorated in 526 AD, 23 years before the church in Classe. The virgins, each dressed differently, were led by Magi in animal skin leggings, flowing cloaks and Phrygian caps. On the other side of the nave a procession of martyrs lead from a Palace to Christ and four angels.
This church was built by King Theodoric, an Ostrogoth in 504. Our guides, Manuela and Claudia, pointed out the ‘editing’ carried out by Justinian I, when Ravenna was later controlled by the Byzantine Empire; truncated hands still hold on to mosaic columns and ghostly shapes can be discerned in the mosaics laid to hide the Ostrogoths.
After lunch, we wandered along the Ravenna streets to Dante’s tomb. He died of malaria, endemic in the marshes which surrounded the medieval city. Our only threat was the bicycists who swooped around us as we walked through the pedestrianised city centre.
The cruise ship parties on their whistle stop tour had departed. We had the Basilica of San Vitale and the Mausoleum of Galla Placida, the earliest of the mosaic ‘monuments’, almost to ourselves.
In the Mausoleum, we stood under the starry patterned roof looking at St Lawrence’s flaming grid iron, Christ tending his flock in a rocky landscape, pastoral scenes and Christian symbols. Light filtered through alabaster windows.
Amongst the wealth of Byzantine mosaics in the Basilica, we came face to face, at last, with the Empress Theodora, bedecked with jewels flanked by her ladies in waiting. Opposite the Emperor Justinian stood with his soldiers and nobles. Maximilian, with a naturalistic bald head, was the only one to have lived in Ravenna and been known to the mosaicist. There was something amazing about seeing pictures and portraits of people who lived 1,600 years ago looking the same as they had when they were just made.
This day, as with the others that followed, was enhanced by Sue giving us a short talk on what we were about to see before we reached our destination. She also guided tours of places not covered by the guides who met us at each city.
After slight teething problems, the group mastered the use of Whisper microphones and hearing devices which enhanced our visits.
Chapter 3
The fragility and preciousness of what we had seen in Ravenna was appreciated the next day when Davide, our coach driver, swept us north to Mantua, a city affected by the earthquake in May. We followed a group in yellow builders’ helmets round the Ducal Palace, our guide explaining they were there to assess the damage. We walked through passages of shrouded scaffolding to see those rooms which were considered safe. The rooms containing the frescoes by Mantegna were closed. A campanile viewed from a window was enclosed in scaffolding and had lost a storey.
Our visit to the Palazzo del Te, once the Duke’s stud farm, converted to house his mistress, was nearly prevented, not by the earthquake, but because we did not have a reference number for the booking made months earlier. It was intended as ‘a place of entertainment’. Perhaps they play this joke on everyone. Inside a building where no facade matches another and classical forms are used in different ways, three rooms were memorable. In one, stud horses stood out from the fresco portico behind them. A wedding feast of gods, nymphs and satyrs covered the walls of another. Best of all, in the Sala dei Giganti, Jupiter in the ceiling hurled down thunderbolts at giants while rocks and cliffs collapsed around them. The single fresco covered all the plaster surface of the room. Rocks once littered the floor and rumbling sound effects made it more realistic to the 16th century visitors.
Chapter 4
Parma, once a Roman soldier’s march away, made easy by Davide using the Autostrada, was the destination for our last expedition.
We learned there was no white marble from Carrara, nearby, but on the other side of the mountains. Parma was embellished with the pink marble from Ravenna. From the coach stop we walked under the arches of the Palazzo della Pilotta towards the Baptistry and Duomo.
Parma was our opportunity to see work by Corregio. We were introduced to his work in the Duomo, a fresco face stared from a small archway over a door. Then we looked up. Into the dome, the Apostles stand while a vortex of clouds, angels, Old Testament characters and perspective carries Mary towards her son, whose legs dangle from a golden heaven. Claudia, the guide, pointed out the strain on the faces of two putti as they lifted Mary, while a third smirked, shirking his duty.
More paintings by Corregio were seen after we visited the Farnese theatre, the oldest and largest baroque theatre in the world. Tiered wooden seats and double arcades rose above a floor which could be flooded to recreate sea battles. It was rarely used, needing 1,200 candles to light it. Although restored after bomb damage during the War, the plaster statues which once filled niches were not repaired. We saw some in open crates as we traversed walkways connecting the Theatre to the Art Gallery also housed in the Pilotta Palace in order to see more works by Corregio and some by Parmigianino.
After lunch Sue revisited the Duomo with some of the group before a visit to the 13th and 14th century frescos and paintings lining the Baptistry.
Our final evening in Bologna coincided with a public holiday. A market lined the Via Dell’Independenza outside the Tre Vecchi hotel where we stayed. Alvi had arranged a four course dinner at the 7 Archi Restaurant near the Piazza Maggiore. Our return to the hotel coincided with a magnificent firework display on the City Hall after a free pop concert in the main square.
The following morning the stage was being dismantled and the streets sluiced as we had the option to visit the art gallery with Sue or wander.
Windows brimmed with slabs of Parmigiana cheese and ham, interspersed with bright coloured displays of fresh fruit and vegetables in one street.
It was possible to shop for Prada, MaxMara, Gucci, YSL etc, sit in a café or on a bench in a leafy piazza, or explore the porticoed streets and medieval alleys. Although a bustling industrial city in the outskirts, central, Medieval Bologna offered a wonderful base with something for every taste.
Despite the sadness of Mary’s death which cast a shadow over the holiday, Alvi and Sue, like St Apollinare in our first amazing mosaic church, shepherded the rest of their flock safely home.
                                            Banba Dawson
                                                                                 A huge thank you to Anne Brewin for these splendid photographs of Italy
14.                            Our Two Visits to Legal London with Andrew Davies
                               on Monday 17th October and Wednesday 24th October

Because there was so much interest, two visits to Legal London were arranged in October.  This was in no small part due to the popularity of Andrew Davies, now a most familiar face to many HEDFAS members.  His infectious enthusiasm combined with a profound knowledge of his subject always ensure that we shall have a most informative hugely enjoyable day together.  These two trips proved to be no exception ...... after a welcome cup of coffee on arrival, we set off on our day's adventures.

Andrew pointed out many of the charming idiosyncrasies so dear to London as we walked to three of the four Inns of Court: the Middle Temple, Inner Temple and Lincoln's Inn. He then imparted some of the fascinating history of each one, starting from very early times. 

We looked at the wonderful architecture and carvings and marvelled at how some of the buildings had been reconstructed so beautifully after the bombing in World War II. 

The special effigy peculiar to each Inn was drawn to our attention.

He captivated us with his wonderful anecdotes and although we had been on our feet for most of the morning (and it even dared to drizzle a little on the first outing) we enjoyed every moment.
After a most satisfying lunch at the Old Bank of England we assembled again at

St Clement Danes in The Strand, now famous as the RAF Church.  Andrew gave us an excellent tour, filled with interesting, informative stories.

Our final stop was at the Royal Courts of Justice, close by. After assembling in the main hall for our initial briefing from Andrew, he guided us to the individual courts where we were able to "eavesdrop" on some of the cases being examined that day.

And so to a final cup of tea together with a few moments of retail therapy to end a particularly memorable day.  A huge thank you, as always, to Shirley Arber and Anne Taylor for organising and leading our two trips so well.
                                    Ginnie Johnston

 15.                                             News from our HEDFAS Volunteers


The HEDFAS Heritage Volunteers group has been working hard for almost three years to restore and record the library at Stonor Park for Lord and Lady Camoys.

The team now consists of 20 members, managed by Ann Lincoln. These are divided into three groups, each with a group leader. They meet once a week at Stonor.

In the summer we had a viewing of Lady Camoys' coming out gowns from the last Debutantes Season. They were all very beautifully presented and looked so delicate and elegant.

A new HEDFAS member, Joan Thompson, joined us early in the year, having completed a training day in book conservation at NADFAS House in London beforehand.  Judy Greenwood joined us in July.
Later in the year five more new HEDFAS members joined us. We welcome Leigh Walton who has recently completed a training day in book conservation at NADFAS House in London.  Jo Bingham, Jane Clark, Edward and Anne Sanders have attended an in-house training day at Stonor in September. 

About 15 members were present at the workshop which used the considerable experience of Hugh Fitzwilliams, Angie Green and Richard Faircliff.  They demonstrated various methods of  book conservation, in which everyone enjoyed taking part.

The whole team will be going for a Christmas lunch together to round off the year.

HEDFAS Volunteers are also playing an active role helping at the National Trust house, Nuffield Place. Several members are acting as Room Stewards and playing a key role with the Volunteers. We also have a few brave ladies who are using their needlework skills to make Coronation robes for visitors to try on when the house re-opens next year.

Please get in touch with Ann Lincoln at if you would like to join in the work at Nuffield. 

                                                                          Ann Lincoln

16.             Our Study Day entitled "The Scottish Colourists, Style and Sophistication
                                              from the Jazz Age" on Thursday 1st November


 Members certainly saw plenty of colour during this November Study Day and with the help of a practising artist, were ‘entertained in style.’

The Glasgow Boys and Colourists were influenced by the French artists working at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. They painted everyday scenes for public consumption and enjoyed considerable success at the time, but their work fell out of fashion during the war and was only ‘rediscovered’ in the 1980’s. In the meantime many of their paintings were sold to private collectors or had been taken abroad by Scottish families. Few travelled south to English galleries and most still remain in Scotland.

The lecturer, Vivien Heffernan, dissected the images, answered the many questions and delved into the practical aspects of creating a picture. She explained how to hold the viewers' attention, how to use complementary colours and lead the eye. The ‘artists’ in the audience were delighted. It was a lively session - with many requests for a repeat performance!

                                 Pauline Simmonds



 17.      Our last outing of the year, a visit to Blenheim Palace on Wednesday, 12th December 


The 1st Duke of Marlborough


Our last outing was a trip to Blenheim Palace in Woodstock to see the Christmas decorations and enjoy a conducted tour.  As with all the best laid plans, today the coach itinerary and ours did not quite match first thing in the morning.  With her usual presence of mind and quick thinking Shirley whisked us to Phyllis Court to warm up with hot coffee and hot chocolate, the coach collecting us from there and arriving at Blenheim in excellent time to start the tours. 

Walking through the grounds we were entranced by the beautiful winter scene all around, with frost shimmering on the trees and a still, magical aura on the lake beyond.

How lucky we were to have two excellent guides to take us round the Palace, both filled with knowledge, anecdotes ... and just a hint of 18th Century gossip!

We could hardly be persuaded to leave the first section, the permanent exhibition of Sir Winston Churchill memorabilia, set out in the suite of rooms in which he was born.  We discovered early photographs of Sir Winston and his family, letters written from school, records of his first military achievements, a superb eclectic collection extensively covering much of his life.

Our guides explained to us that originally Blenheim Palace was a gift from Queen Anne and a grateful nation to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, in return for his famous military triumph against the French and Bavarians at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704.  Sadly, it became the subject of political infighting, which led to Marlborough's fall from grace.

Sarah Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough, enjoyed a long and devoted relationship with her husband for more than 40 years. Sarah had risen to be one of the most influential women of her time through her close friendship with Queen Anne.  Strong-willed and determined to get her own way, Sarah tried the Queen's patience whenever she disagreed with her on political, court or church appointments. After her final break with Anne in 1711, Sarah and her husband were dismissed from the court, but she returned to favour under the Hanoverians following Anne's death.

At the end of the 19th Century, the palace was saved from ruin by funds gained from the 9th Duke of Marlborough’s marriage to American railroad heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt.

Today the palace remains the home of the Dukes of Marlborough, the present incumbent of the title being John George Vanderbilt Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough.

After our fascinating tour, in which we admired some rooms exquisitely decorated for Christmas, we made our way to the Indian Room for lunch, especially prepared for us. We were greeted with an exotic fruit cocktail (with just a hint of alcohol, I believe), followed by a hearty warming meal which fitted the bill delightfully. The chatter and laughter rose to the heavens, as befitted a special HEDFAS Christmas expedition.

The time sped by too quickly and after a further wander round the glorious grounds for the few, and an (expensive) visit to the excellent shop for the majority, we departed at 3.30 p.m. before darkness had descended upon the day.

Even if it hadn’t gone quite to plan, our visit there served to remind us what a wonderful place Blenheim Palace is, full of mesmerising history, superb art and artefacts, and above all a crackingly good day out.

                                      Ginnie Johnston


 Sarah Churchill, the 1st Duchess of Marlborough
The 9th Duke of Marlborough with his wife
and family

18.     And finally, we are proud to announce that after much soul searching, HEDFAS has acquired a wonderful all-purpose
          vehicle with a pristine cream leather interior, reclining seats, plenty of leg room, ample space for luggage, capable of
          negotiating any surface we may encounter in any conditions, to transport us to the furthest reaches of the planet. All
          we need now is .......
                 ..................  a driver.  Any offers?