We have talks in Autumn & Winter and trips in Spring & Summer each year. For further details see the current Contact magazine (via the Bookshop page).
2020 Talks & Trips
We also pick up members at the Memorial Theatre on Christchurch Street West, at the Bus Stop Opposite to the Memorial Theatre, which will also be the returning drop-off point. The advertised Coach Departure Time is for the Rugby Club, to which ten minutes is added to determine the pick up time for the Memorial Theatre.
Guests pay £3 supplement. Please mention any dietary needs when you book and remember you are responsible for your own insurance.
TALK DETAILS FOR 2020
All lectures take place in the Assembly Rooms at the rear of Frome Memorial Theatre (BA11 1EB).Lectures start at 2.30pm apart from the lecture on 21st March 2020, when the talk willbe preceded by the AGM at 2pm. Visitors are welcome but are asked to pay an entry fee of £3.00.
Saturday 4th July 2020 SPOILS OF WAR – The Treasures, Trophies and Trivia of the British Empire. Rook Lane Chapel 7.30pm (doors 7pm) CANCELLED
TRIPS in 2020
Thursday 2nd April Dyrham Park (NT), South Glos. CANCELLED
Thursday 16th April 2020 S.S. Great Britain and the new Being Brunel Museum CANCELLED
Wednesday 13th May Bridport Museum, the Street Market and Abbotsbury
Our trip to the charming market town of Bridport will give us the opportunity to visit the museum for a rope-making demonstration and talk plus an interesting wander around. We can have a leisurely lunch and browse the street market before journeying on to Abbotsbury for our tea. The history of rope making in Bridport dates back to at least medieval times as the area has been suitable for growing both hemp and flax. Our demonstration will give an idea of this ancient craft.
The town boasts numerous listed buildings. In South Street is the Church of St Mary’s with its history dating back to Saxon times; there is a monumental brass commemorating Edward Coker, killed during the Monmouth rebellion and a monument to a Knight in chain mail dating from about 1250. The church was improved in 1860. Also in South Street are a Chantry, the Daniel Taylor’s almshouses and the more modern Art Deco Electric Palace built in 1926, and the Palmer’s Brewery.
After our visit to the twice weekly street market, exploring the town and then taking lunch in one of the numerous outlets, we return to the coach to journey onwards. We will be taking the scenic route to Abbotsbury, seeing magnificent views over Chesil beach and the coastal scenery. After a delicious cream or savoury tea at the Old School House, (included), we will make our way home.
Cost: £24 Depart Rugby Club: 8-30am (short stop at Cartgate Services on A303)
Phone Bookings from Wednesday 15th April NB: Also book your tea with a sweet or savoury scone.
Monday 1st June Killerton Estate, near Exeter (NT)
Killerton is one of Devon’s largest country estates with lots of history, natural history and many acres to explore. Views of Dartmoor can be seen from the grounds and gardens and by walking further afield to the estate village of Broadclyst, you can visit Marker’s which is a medieval hall-house; the Clyston Mill and the Old Post Office. A buggy service operates to Killerton House and up the hill to Bear’s Hut. The beautiful gardens, redesigned in 2019, are close to the house.
The Georgian house and estate, donated to the National Trust by Sir Richard Acland, holds the Trust’s largest fashion collection with annual exhibitions. Students from Devon’s universities are invited to add their imaginative degree design work to these exhibitions.
You will find a plant centre, a bookshop and also a shop selling award-winning produce from the estate. During our visit we have a choice of eating in the Killerton Kitchen, which is a highly rated restaurant, or in the two other cafés that are on site.
Cost: NT members £14, non-NT £28 Depart Rugby Club: 8-45am (short stop at Taunton Dene Services)
Phone Bookings from Tuesday 12th May
Thursday 11th June Old Bowlish House, Shepton Mallet
The owner of Old Bowlish House, Mr Ian Keys, will give us a lengthy and interesting tour of his home and his extensive gardens that contain many kinds of roses and also a fascinating industrial ruin but be aware of the uneven stone steps leading up to the gardens. Ian might also show us the local workers’ cottages situated in this small and historic part of the town’s outskirts.
This Grade II* clothier’s mansion is a visible expression of the wealth of a branch of the Strode family and was built as a wedding gift in early 17th C but on earlier Elizabethan foundations. It was modernised c.1770 with a classical Georgian frontage and later had internal additions c.1860. The Jacobean staircase is particularly worth seeing and allows access to explore upstairs. Our afternoon tour ends with a homemade cream tea, (included), before returning to Frome.
Cost: £22 Departure from Rugby Club: 1-30pm
Phone Bookings from Thursday 28th May Numbers limited to 25
Monday 22nd June ‘Mayflower 400’ Exhibition, Southampton Old Town
Southampton was the port from which the Mayflower and Speedwell set sail for America. However, they had to put into port at Plymouth for repairs which led to only the Mayflower continuing the voyage. The Tudor House Museum is in the Old Town and close to the city walls where the sea used to reach and where the armies of Henry V left to cross the English Channel to Harfleur before marching to Agincourt. Two centuries later the Pilgrim Fathers left to cross the Atlantic Ocean to colonise part of the eastern coast of North America to be followed in the 19th C. by emigrants escaping poverty to find work and a new home there. The Port of Southampton with its double high tides is as busy as ever with cruise liners and container traffic.
For more than ten years the Tudor House was closed for an entire refurbishment to preserve the building. It contains artefacts donated by local inhabitants and has important displays showing the social history of the area. We are visiting the Museum this year because it is commemorating the sailing of the Pilgrim Fathers in 1620. On arrival, we will have coffee, (included), in the Education and Georgian Rooms before Group 1 tours the House, the new Exhibition and the Tudor Gardens while Group 2 has their ‘Mayflower Walking Tour’, both last about an hour with the groups changing over.
The Museum restaurant cannot cater for us all at the same time for lunch but near the Tudor House are cafés and historic inns such as the Dolphin or Red Lion. After our guided tours we can return to explore further the Tudor House and the interesting buildings and city walls of Old Southampton.
Cost: £22 Depart Rugby Club: 8-30am (short stop in Sainsbury’s car park, Salisbury)
Phone Bookings from Wednesday 10th June
Wednesday 1st July Avebury: the Stone Circle and Manor House (NT)
At Avebury, the world’s largest Neolithic Stone Circle partially encompasses the pretty village which contains the interesting Church of St James that has Saxon and Norman features with later additions; the Stables and the 17th C. Threshing Barn Museums and the Grade 1 listed Avebury Manor House. The coach will drop us by the Red Lion Inn and we have time to seek refreshments in there or in the Circles Café before we either take a guided walk around the whole Stone Circle or choose the much shorter walk and talk by another guide.
Our tickets give us a free-flow visit to the Manor. This was famously restored and furnished with the help of the BBC for its series, ‘To the Manor Reborn’ and visitors are encouraged to linger in each room, for instance you can rest in the Sitting Room used by the 1930s ‘marmalade millionaire’, Alexander Keiller, and perhaps listen to music on the gramophone before moving on to the Kitchen. Then when venturing upstairs we are invited to try out the beds for size and comfort. Later, it is very pleasant to take afternoon tea in the elegant Manor Tea Room or perhaps eat elsewhere before beginning the house tour. Do explore the beautiful Avebury Manor Gardens where the gardeners are always happy to chat about their work with the topiary, the borders and their kitchen garden.
Cost: NT Members £14 Non-NT Members £30 Depart Rugby Club: 9-15am
Phone Bookings from Thursday 18th June
Monday 20th July St Fagan’s Welsh Heritage Museum, Cardiff
St Fagan’s Museum is set in the magnificent grounds of St Fagan’s Castle and since opening in 1948 there have been over 40 historical buildings from all over Wales that have been restored and rebuilt. These showcase the traditional skills and crafts such as milling, blacksmithing, weaving, farming and the use of clay. All this combined with the recent refurbishments and the additional galleries illustrating the stories of the inhabitants of Wales from Neanderthal times to the present have created a fascinating Open Air Museum. On arrival at St Fagan’s we will be greeted with an Introductory Talk and then we can wander at will to explore the buildings. There are ample refreshment facilities to use throughout our day here.
Cost: £20 Depart from Rugby Club: 8-15am (short stop at a Motorway Services)
Phone Bookings from Tuesday 30th June
Monday 10th August Shepton Mallet Prison
Set in the sloping cobbled streets of an older part of Shepton Mallet is the Prison which was established in 1645. We have a choice of guided tours; either the longer one which includes climbing many stairs or the shorter tour which will remain mainly on ground level. The guides will give us an in-depth talk with their tours of the Prison, explaining its history and how the penal system changed through the centuries from the very primitive and harsh conditions to the time of its closure in 2013. There is the condemned cell last used in 1945 and we will learn of the American Military using the prison during WW2 and they may mention the 1967 film, The Dirty Dozen, starring Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson and other famous actors. Afterwards there is a walk through the hidden back lanes to the middle of the town. We will reach St Peter’s Church which is certainly worth a visit before walking on to the Shambles by the Market Cross to choose a place in the town or perhaps in Haskins before the coach returns us to Frome.
Please be aware that the buildings can be cold even in summer so dress warmly.
Cost: £22 Depart from Rugby Club: 9-45am
Phone Bookings from Thursday 16th July Numbers limited to 40
Thursday 3rd September A Cultural Visit to Bournemouth
A visit to the beautiful resort of Bournemouth is always a treat and today we are booked into the Russell-Cotes Museum on the cliffs overlooking the sands and pier. This Museum was built in 1901 in the Art Nouveau style as a home for Merton and Annie Russell-Cotes in which they could house their mainly Pre-Raphaelite paintings and their numerous travellers’ treasures. They also built the adjacent Royal Bath Hotel. The Museum is now owned by the Borough of Bournemouth and although it contains only a small café, there are many restaurants and bars nearby, including a branch of Harry Ramsden’s famous fish and chips emporium and the café on the pier. On arrival we will be given stickers to allow entry to the Museum on a free-flow basis to prevent congestion, thus giving us a choice of looking elsewhere for refreshments before going in.
Peter Clark has been writing a book about places associated with Winston Churchill and on our way home we will stop at Alum Chine. Peter will show us the site of a near fatal accident which befell the eighteen year old Winston; the result of a reckless and foolish prank.
Cost: £20 Depart Rugby Club: 9am
Phone Bookings from Thursday 6th August
Wednesday 23rd September Winchester: the College and Cathedral
A few years ago some of us were guided through Winchester to reach the River Itchen where it is believed that John Keats composed his ‘Ode to Autumn’. We walked through the Cathedral Close to College Street, passing the house where Jane Austen died in 1817 before lingering briefly at the entrance to Winchester College. Today we return to have a guided tour of this oldest of medieval schools for boys. It was founded in 1382 by Bishop William of Wykeham who gave its memorable motto of ‘Manners Makyth Man’. Photography is not allowed within the College.
Winchester is a city offering a varied and interesting choice of places to eat lunch. Afterwards we shall meet our guides in Winchester Cathedral who will be giving us a tour lasting about an hour. There will be time after the tour to explore the Cathedral a little more before having tea in either the café inside the Cathedral Close or finding another in the city. We return to the coach waiting south of the Guildhall by Thornycroft’s striking statue of King Alfred, (cast c. 1900 at Singer’s Foundry).
Cost: £27 Depart Rugby Club: 8-15am (short stop at Sutton Scotney Services on A34)
Phone Bookings from Wednesday 2nd September