Oxford Centre of the National Trust
Programme of August Visits
|Thursday 6th August 2020||Windsor and Frogmore House||£33|
|Wednesday 19th August 2020||Wye Valley and Forest of Dean||£51|
Windsor and Frogmore House
Our first stop will be Windsor with free time to lunch or picnic and perhaps do some sightseeing or shopping. The coach will then take us to Frogmore House in the grounds of Home Park (½ mile south of Windsor Castle) which is open to the public only in August and only for group tours. The original house was built between 1680 and 1684 and became a royal residence in 1792 when Queen Charlotte purchased it as a country retreat for herself and her unmarried daughters. She employed architect James Wyatt to enlarge and modernise the property.
Since then it has passed through a succession of royal residents whose interests and talents are reflected in the house interior. Queen Charlotte had a passion for botany and commissioned 18th-century flower painter, Mary Moser, to decorate one of the rooms with sprays and garlands of flowers. The Charlotte Closet is filled with drawings by Princess Charlotte, the eldest daughter of George III and Queen Charlotte. The lilac sitting room of Queen Victoria’s mother, the Duchess of Kent, is recreated as it was in 1861. Queen Mary’s taste is shown in her collection of black papier-mâché furniture and finally the Britannia Room commemorates the decommissioning of the Royal Yacht in 1997 with a display of objects selected by the Duke of Edinburgh.
Outside, the Royal Mausoleums and Burial Grounds, where Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Duke of Windsor (Edward VIII) and Duchess of Windsor amongst others are buried, are sadly not open to the public nor are the gardens but we may be able to glimpse them through the house windows.
There are toilets but no catering at Frogmore so after our visit we’ll make a short stop at nearby Windsor Farm Shop and Café for refreshments (not included in the cost) before returning to Oxford.
NB We may be subject to a security check at Frogmore so please don’t bring large bags and leave sharp objects (e.g. scissors/penknives) at home or on the coach. Access: The coach will park next to the house. There are 3 steps (with handrails) or a ramp at the entrance. Inside all rooms are on the ground floor except the Cross Gallery, which is on the first floor up 30 steps, again with good handrails. If these aren’t manageable, there are photos of the Cross Gallery on the ground floor.
Wye Valley and Forest of Dean
The beautiful Wye Valley is Border Country, fought over for centuries by the English and the Welsh. The Forest of Dean is full of myth, legend and tradition. Verderers, first introduced by King Canute to guard the 'vert' and the 'venison', are still appointed on a salary of a doe and a buck a year. They can still impose the death penalty for poaching but it must be carried out on a gibbet long since mislaid so that's that for the hangings!
For lunch we visit historic Monmouth in the heart of the Wye Valley, the birthplace of Henry V – the one with the pudding-bowl haircut. Monmouth's ancient fortified stone bridge was hopeless as a defence since enemies need only roll up their trouser legs and wade across the river but it is a thing of beauty and a pleasant spot to settle for a bit of otter-spotting.
For the afternoon we're out on the water at Symonds Yat to fully appreciate the beauty of the Wye Valley. On the attractive all-weather barge we'll wind our way through the picturesque gorge and village. See if you can spot the peregrine falcons, kestrels and buzzards on the limestone cliffs towering above the boat. After about an hour on the water, we return ashore for a peek at a lovely old church named for the saint said to have crowned the legendary King Arthur, before retiring for a cream tea (included in the tour fee) at a nearby hotel. We'll take a scenic route back to the Severn Bridge, passing the romantic ruins of Tintern Abbey.
Access: It is a 5-minute flat walk (approx 250 metres) to the boat and back. The boat does not accept wheelchairs.
On the day
We use Plastows Coaches for all our visits. The coach picks up passengers at Headington Shops, at The Playhouse and then either at Redbridge or Water Eaton Park and Ride depending on the destination.