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05 May 2019Fine Arts and Historic Houses in Glasgow & Edinburgh

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Fine Arts and Historic Houses in Glasgow & Edinburgh

Sunday 5th – Thursday 9th May 2019

There were 30 on the tour, some of whom had travelled on previous holidays and others were 'first timers'.  We soon got to know one another and enjoyed each other's company.

The journey up to Scotland was broken by a visit to Tatton Park in Cheshire, home of the Egerton family.  Tatton Park is a Neo-Classical Mansion with a lovely garden and deer park.  Those who visited the garden before lunch managed to miss the rain which set in soon afterwards. The house opened at 1pm and we just had time to see the rooms with paintings by Canaletto, Van Dyck and Henry Calvert.

On our arrival at New Lanark, we found the New Lanark Mill Hotel in the valley of the River Clyde.  This is situated down a difficult road with hairpin bends and was taxing for our coach driver, Steve.  The hotel is in a renovated and rebuilt 18th century cotton spinning mill.  It is a World Heritage Site and part of the mill is still in operation, powered by a water wheel.  There is also an award winning Visitor Centre.

All of our rooms had beautiful views of the River Clyde and we were able to enjoy the bar, the restaurant and the swimming pool.  The hotel served delicious Scottish breakfasts and good choices for dinner each evening.

Our guide for both Glasgow and Edinburgh was Mike Furlong who was friendly, interesting, amusing, well informed and very energetic.  One of the highlights of the tour was our visit to the House for an Art Lover, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh with his wife, Margaret MacDonald in 1901.  The simplicity of the design was beautiful and must have been astonishing in its time, well before the Art Deco movement.

Following lunch in the Willow Tea Rooms, also designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, many of us had a conducted and informative walk through the city to Glasgow Cathedral.  We passed many of the city's famous murals along the way.  The cathedral is renowned for its post-war stained glass windows.

In Edinburgh, Mike Furlong took us on a tour in the coach of many of the sites, ending up at the Scottish National Gallery where he pointed out a small selection of Scottish paintings. A number of the party walked with Mike to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery to see another selection of famous paintings.

In the afternoon, some visited the Palace of Holyroodhouse, home of Mary, Queen of Scots and now used by the Queen for State ceremonies.  Others visited the Royal Yacht Britannia.

On Wednesday, we visited Traquair House, Scotland's oldest inhabited house.  It has been home to the Stuart family since 1491.  The house was charmingly homely and the guides obviously loved it and were loyal to the family.  The decor was 18th century and the history of the family's Jacobite past, including a secret staircase and disguised priest vestments, was most interesting.

In the evening, we visited Dalmeny House, home of the family of our Chairman, Lucy Garton.  We were shown a wonderful collection of beautiful French furniture, a room with an impressive Napoleonic collection and, amongst many other items, portraits by important artists.  After a beautiful dinner, Lucy's mother, Lady Rosebery, welcomed us all and gave us a short talk on the history of the house and castle, the furniture and the paintings.

On our return journey, we visited the World of Wedgwood at Stoke on Trent where we watched ceramics being cast, fired glazed, decorated, hand painted and gilded.

We arrived back in Wiltshire tired but having had a wonderful trip.