Autumn Heritage Tours

Saturday 4 October 
Royal Leamington Spa and Kenilworth Castle

Saturday 25 October
Leominster and Hampton Court Castle

Saturday 15 November
Coventry Cathedrals, Herbert Art Gallery and Transport Museum

Saturday 13 December
Manchester: Whitworth and City Art Galleries, Christmas Market and Christmas Lunch at Rio Ferdinand's Restaurant Rosso

Click on a tour for more information and booking.

Royal Leamington Spa and Kenilworth Castle Tour

Saturday 4 October
Coach leaves Northwich Memorial Hall at 8.30am (b)
Other pick-ups available - click here for details
£20.00 - entry fees are extra

Royal Leamington Spa is a fashionable and elegant town in the heart of South Warwickshire. With Georgian and Victorian architecture, tree-lined avenues and squares and glorious gardens, it offers a unique experience to its visitors, and has been described as ‘the best bits of London, all in a ten-minute walk’.

The magnificent Royal Pump Rooms are now a cultural and tourism complex, housing the town's Museum, Art Gallery, Library and Tourist Information Centre. In the museum, there are displays on the historic use of the Pump Rooms and Spa Treatments and the chance to sample the water!

See the Art Gallery collection here.

Crossing the road from the Royal Pump Rooms are the Jephson Gardens, which are perfect for a gentle stroll. These Grade II listed gardens of horticultural excellence include a sensory garden, a temperate glasshouse, a refurbished boathouse and children's play area. There is a new riverside restaurant and the charmingly restored Victorian tearoom.

Click here for a map of Royal Leamington Spa, and Visitor Guide here.

After lunch we visit Kenilworth Castle (EH).

Kenilworth is one of England’s most magnificent castles. Once standing at the heart of a 1,600-ha (4,000-acre) hunting ground, and surrounded by a vast man-made lake, it represented a rich prize to the generations of royal and almost-royal great men who owned and embellished it: among them Geoffrey de Clinton, John of Gaunt, Henry V, and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Even in melancholy decay its influence has been far-reaching, thanks, in part, to Walter Scott’s best-selling romance, Kenilworth, which brought the castle new fame.

The first castle was established in the 1120s by the royal chamberlain, Geoffrey de Clinton. He built most of the Norman keep, and founded the nearby priory. In the early 13th century, King John added an outer circuit of stone walls, and a dam to hold back a great lake, thus creating one of the kingdom’s most impressive castles. Subsequently the castle was developed as a palace. John of Gaunt, son of Edward III, constructed the great hall and associated apartments. In the 15th century, the castle was the favoured residence of the Lancastrian kings, drawn here by the excellent hunting. Henry V built a retreat – the Pleasance in the Marsh – at the far end of the lake.

The great hall, built by John of Gaunt between 1373 and 1380, was the architectural centrepiece of the castle's inner court. In 1563, Elizabeth I granted the castle to her favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. He turned Kenilworth into a great Renaissance 'prodigy house', designed to receive the queen and her court on their ceremonial 'progresses' around her realm.

Striking evidence of Dudley's transformation can still be seen everywhere at Kenilworth, not least in the form of the new garden, recreated by English Heritage on the basis of a contemporary description, representing the one that Dudley had made for the 19 days of festivities laid on for Elizabeth I's visit in 1575. The castle's fortifications were dismantled in 1650, after the Civil War. In 1821, the ivy-clad ruins became famous as the setting for Sir Walter Scott’s novel, ‘Kenilworth’, which romanticised the story of Robert Dudley, Elizabeth I and Amy Robsart. In 1958, Lord Kenilworth gave the castle to the town, and since 1984, it has been managed by English Heritage.

See Paintings on display here.

Click here for more information on Kenilworth Castle.

Click here to read "Kenilworth" by Sir Walker Scott.

Click here to Book Tickets Online.

Leominster and Hampton Court Castle Tour

Saturday 25 October
Coach leaves Northwich Memorial Hall at 8.30am (b)
Other pick-ups available - click here for details
£22.00 - entry fees are extra

Leominster is located in the heart of the beautiful border countryside, where England and Wales nudge each other along Offa's Dyke.

Throughout the town there is a wide variety of architectural styles from the medieval overhangs in Drapers Lane and School Lane, to the Georgian splendour of Broad Street.

Grange Court is a Grade II listed timber-framed market hall built by John Abel in 1633. Once in the centre of town, the building was dismantled and rebuilt in Grange Park in 1859 by John Arkwright. It is now a heritage centre telling the story of Leomister.

Leominster Priory dates from the middle of the 12th century with later additions. A nunnery in 660AD, it was rebuilt in the 12th century. The unique tower has work of early Norman, Transitional, Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular periods. The reformation of 1539 led to partial destruction. Inside are many interesting features including England's last used ducking stool. 

Leominster Museum tells the story of Leominster and its people from pre Roman times to the present day. The collection comprises artefacts, pictures, photographs, postcards and documents, including an important collection of paintings and drawings by famous Leominster Victorian artist John Scarlett Davis. See the paintings here.

Click here for a map of Leominster.

After lunch we move on to Hampton Court Castle.

The estate was originally formed by the merging of the manors of Hampton Richard and Hampton Mappenor. It was granted by Henry IV to Sir Rowland Lenthall at the time of his marriage to Margaret Fitzalan, daughter of the Earl of Arundel and a cousin of the King. Lenthall built the original quadrangular manor house in 1427, twelve years after his knighthood at the battle of Agincourt. In 1434 he was granted a licence to crenellate the house by Henry VI.

Sir Rowland was succeeded by his daughter who married the Baron of Burford and it was their grandson who sold Hampton Court to Sir Humphrey Coningsby in 1510.

Hampton Court remained in the Coningsby family, a prominent noble Herefordshire family, until the early 19th Century when the estate was purchased by Richard Arkwright, the son of the famous inventor. Richard Arkwright's son, John, then commissioned the remodelling of the house in the 1830's and 40's, the work being designed and carried out by Charles Hanbury Tracy, later Lord Sudeley. The Arkwrights lived at Hampton Court until 1912.

Original Victorian garden walls enclose stunning new flower gardens divided by canals, island pavilions and pleached avenues. There is a maze of a thousand yews with a gothic tower at its centre. Climb to the top for a panoramic view of the gardens or descend underground to a tunnel that leads to a waterfall in the sunken garden. Beautiful herbaceous borders stretch out from a one hundred and fifty year old wisteria tunnel that leads to vast lawns and ancient trees beside the castle. Beyond the lawns are riverside and woodland walks. Adjoining the castle, in the grand conservatory designed by Joseph Paxton in 1846, is the Orangery Café.

For this weekend only, the Castle cellars are open, as part of their Halloween celebrations, which also includes a display of owls and a collection of creepy crawlies!

Explore Herefordshire Leaflet here.

Click here to Book Tickets Online.

Coventry - Cathedrals, Art and Transport Museum Tour

Saturday 15 November
Coach leaves Northwich Memorial Hall at 9.00am (c)
Other pick-ups available - click here for details
£19.00 - entry fees are extra

Coventry is the birthplace of the British cycle and motor industry. In the heart of the city centre is the Coventry Transport Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of British road transport. The Museum's collection includes over 240 cars, commercial vehicles and buses, 94 motorcycles, 200 cycles, 25,000 models and around 1 million archive and ephemera items.

The Herbert Museum and Art Gallery visual art collection consists of approximately 6000 items including oil paintings, watercolours, drawings, prints, sculpture, photographs and digital works. The earliest oil painting in the collection is a fine Elizabethan portrait attributed to Lucas de Heere, while other notable items include the huge painting of Bacchus and Ariadne by Luca Giordano.

One of the most significant aspects of the visual art collection is the British Life and Landscape collection, started by the gallery's first Art Director, John Hewitt, in the late 1950s. This includes works by major artists, such as LS Lowry, Stanley Spencer, David Bomberg and Paul Nash. They recently acquired a view of Tile Hill by the Coventry artist George Shaw, painted in 2003.

The Herbert's watercolour collection contains many fine topographical views of Coventry and Warwickshire dating from the 1770s to the 1990s. There is also a strong collection of figure drawings including works by Richard Hamilton, Henry Moore and David Hockney. And, of course, the story of Lady Godiva. See the collection here.

There are also temporary exhibitions, including Coventry and the Great War, and photographs of the People of India, taken over the past 150 years.

Watchmaking was first recorded in the city in the 1680s, but it was not until the 18th century that Coventry emerged as one of the main centres of the watchmaking industry in England. The Coventry Watch Museum tells the story of this important industry.

Coventry Cathedral

Coventry has had three Cathedrals in the past 1000 years: the 12th century Priory Church of St Mary, the medieval Parish Church Cathedral of St Michael and the modern Coventry Cathedral, also named for St Michael.

Coventry’s earliest cathedral, dedicated to St Mary, was founded as a Benedictine community by Leofric, Earl of Mercia, and his wife Godiva in 1043.  Built on the site of a former religious house for nuns, its sheer size is some indication of the wealth which Coventry acquired in the middle ages. In 1539, with the dissolution of the monasteries, the See of Coventry and Lichfield was transferred to Lichfield and the former cathedral fell into decay.  Only in 1918 was the modern diocese of Coventry created in its own right, and the church of St Michael designated as its cathedral.

On the night of 14 November 1940, the city of Coventry was devastated by bombs dropped by the Luftwaffe.  The Cathedral burned with the city, having been hit by several incendiary devices.

Shortly after the destruction, the cathedral stonemason, Jock Forbes, noticed that two of the charred medieval roof timbers had fallen in the shape of a cross.  He set them up in the ruins where they were later placed on an altar of rubble with the moving words ‘Father Forgive’ inscribed on the Sanctuary wall.

Her Majesty the Queen laid the foundation stone for the new cathedral on 23 March 1956 and the building was consecrated on 25 May 1962, in her presence. The architect, Sir Basil Spence, commissioned work from Graham Sutherland, John Piper, Ralph Beyer, John Hutton, Jacob Epstein, Elisabeth Frink and others - most still to reach the peak of their artistic careers.

The Priory Visitor Centre is a visitor attraction built over the remains of Coventry's first Cathedral. Excavation work gave archaeologists the opportunity to uncover details of much of the original Cathedral and tell the story of this amazing part of Coventry's history in the new Visitor Centre which houses some of the incredible finds. The recently unveiled Undercroft gives an opportunity to see and walk amongst the remains of the Cathedral.

Click here for a map of
Coventry City Centre.

Listen to Coventry Cathedral Bells here.

Click here to Book Tickets Online.

Christmas Tour and Lunch: Manchester

Saturday 13 December

Cheshire Open Studios 2014

Now in its 17th year, Cheshire Open Studios features 22 artists, opening up their studios on 13/14 September or 27/28 September, plus the main exhibition at Funky Aardvark Gallery, 61 Bridge Street Rows East, Chester.

Northwich artists with studios open:-

Diana Bernice Tackley
Debbie Goldsmith
Simon Kennedy
Julia Midgley
Beth Barlow
Artwork Studio and Gallery
Yvonne Chadderton

Check the brochure for studio opening dates and times.
Publishing Software from YUDU

Click here for the Cheshire Open Studios Website

The Salt Tellers Community Play

The Salt Tellers Community Play was staged at The Lion Salt Works and Anderton Boat Lift on 5-9 July 2005.

The Salt Tellers Programme


Bodelwyddan and Penrhyn Castles

Heritage Tour on Saturday 23 August to Penrhyn and Bodelwyddan Castles, with lunch stop at Rhos-on-Sea.