Outside Visits

Each year ASHER organises two or three Outside Visits, comprising day trips by coach to a venue of likely interest to our members, e.g. country houses and/or gardens, art galleries or museums. Lunch is organised for the group and booked in advance, either at the venue itself or a nearby restaurant/inn.

Obviously in 2020 the proposed Outside Visits could not take place due to the pandemic.  However we hope that by September 2021 the situation will have improved to the extent that we will be able to go ahead with the visit to Grimsthorpe Castle on 8th September.  Details of the visit, including the Booking Form will be included in the next Newsletter.

Grimsthorpe Castle, Near Bourne

Grimsthorpe Castle
Grimsthorpe Castle State Drawing Room

‘Grim by name but not by nature’ (according to Simon Jenkins), Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire is one of the great houses of England. It is a marriage of architectural styles, with the quirkiness of its Tudor façade contrasting with the Baroque splendour of its north front, and is Sir John Vanbrugh’s last masterpiece -  a ‘true northern Blenheim’.

In 1516, Grimsthorpe and its lands were presented by Henry VIII as a wedding present to William, 11thLord Willoughby de Eresby, and his Spanish bride, Maria de Salinas, lady-in-waiting of Queen Katharine of Aragon. For the next 500 years it remained in the same family, united under the ancient title of ‘Barony of Willoughby de Eresby’. Now owned by a Charitable Trust, it is occupied by the 27thBaroness Willoughby, and because the family held the hereditary office of Lord Great Chamberlain to the monarch, Grimsthorpe houses one of the largest collections of royal thrones and furnishings outside the Royal Palaces.

The Great Hall interior is to Pevsner ‘unquestionably Vanbrugh’s finest room’, having the scale of a Tudor great hall but the perspective of a Roman palace, with its walls of two storeys of arcades, a chimneypiece by Hawksmoor,  and a double flight of stairs rising to a landing, beneath which is Vanbrugh’s Piranesian undercroft. Upstairs, in the state dining room is the Coronation Throne used by George IV, and the King James Room has fluted gilt pilasters and a full-length portrait of King James I. At the end of the upper corridor is the chapel gallery, which houses an almost hidden treasure, Zurbaran’s portrait Benjamin, that has been separated from the rest of the set now at Bishop Auckland Castle, which we may coincidentally see on our visit there in September this year.

 After lunch, we will be invited back to Grimsthorpe to enjoy the Gardens that have been there since the early 1500s, evolving over the years due to Grimsthorpe’s long history of gardening, with intricate parterres with box hedges close to the House, and a dramatic herbaceous border framing views across the lake. Finally, the Georgian Coach House has been converted into a licensed tearoom, serving afternoon tea and home-made cakes, for anyone wishing to indulge, before we rejoin the coach for our homeward journey.