All outings in 2020 were cancelled due to coronavirus.
In 2019 our members enjoyed many delightful outings and you can read about the excursions below.
16th April: Tenterden and Sissinghurst Gardens - Rosamund Davies
With a forecast of sun and no rain for Kent, two full luxury Swallow coaches left Upminster and had a smooth, unhindered drive to Tenterden arriving at a perfect time for coffee and a browse in the shops down the long high street. The Church of St Mildred was a worthwhile visit as it had an unusual wooden ceiling decorated with metal fixings and more unusually a firkin of ale on the counter at the back of the church! Some members walked down to the Steam Railway Museum and were lucky enough to watch the steam train arriving into the station. The station museum was very interesting especially sitting on a very hard bench in a third class carriage. After lunch we returned to the coaches and set off for a 20 minute drive to Sissinghurst spotting bluebell woods, lambs in the fields and neatly hedged lanes.
When we entered the main gate, the noise of large diggers working nearby drew our attention to notices announcing the current development of the Delos Garden based on Grecian plans laid down originally by Harold and Vita. The gardens at Sissinghurst were stunning with a wide range of bulbs especially the tulips of all shapes and colours. The South cottage has recently been opened to the public by timed ticket. Harold and Vita enjoyed living here. The potting garden has also been opened to the public on Tuesday and Thursday. Here we saw rows of colourful plants ready to be moved into the main gardens.
Sitting having our afternoon tea we watched the brave souls who had climbed to the top of the tower taking photos of the view. Then they had to climb down!
We walked back to the coaches and admired the purchases people had made. Home in an hour having had a great day out!!
16th May: Faversham and Leeds Castle - Terry Threlfall
Are we not lucky in Upminster to be within 100 miles of so many wonderful places? I had never recognised Faversham except as a dot on a map, and not even sure where that dot was. It turned out to be the ‘Little King’s Town’ on the way to Dover, a supplementary Cinque Port despite now being miles inland, possessed of a strangely shaped church containing the tomb of a King and Queen (Stephen and Matilda) and the oldest brewery in England (Shepherd Neame) plus hundreds of listed buildings, many of wood or with historic significance. We went down via the shopping streets to the creek then back past the church and an amalgam of quaint buildings in desperate search of a meal, because curiously the town has not realised its tourist potential. After that we went a very long way round via narrow roads with splendid scenery to Leeds Castle, misguided by a satnav, I was told.
Leeds Castle is a magnificent edifice. One can imagine a mediaeval originator saying ‘Methinks a castle grander than ye neighbours, mason. What about in the middle of a lake, Sire? Gadzooks, then we could charge ye serfs a groat a boat plus a farthing entry to help with ye upkeep’. We walked the scenic route from the entrance to the castle then onward through the formal gardens which were in-between seasons, too late for the tulips and too early for the summer splendour. However, there were some free-standing wisterias in still in bloom. Then to the Maze café for an ice cream, but really in search of the promised cream tea. Unsuccessful. So back by the path through Lady Baillie’s garden. This is a Mediterranean garden full of exotic shrubs on a south slope by another lake, very peaceful and with lots of benches inviting to rest, soak up the sun and admire the view across the waters. We chatted to the gardeners and then finally had our cream tea in the courtyard (It sounds as though food is our only interest!). No time to visit the castle - we had been around it previously, both on our own and with UDHS – before rushing back to the coach. The driver did a splendid job in getting us back quickly to Upminster. The good weather helped to make an enjoyable day. Thank you Valerie for the outing choice and for everyone who helped it to run smoothly.
19th June: Bury St Edmunds & Peter Beales Rose Garden -
On a rather grey morning armed with umbrellas and wet weather gear we
set off for Bury St. Edmunds. On arrival we had a cup of coffee and made our way into town as it was market day. The most popular stalls were those selling plants which looked strong, healthy and not too expensive and several people bought some.
After some retail therapy we made our way to the Abbey Gardens as there are always beautiful beds of flowers. Unfortunately because of the cold and wet weather the gardeners were still planting up the beds but when the weather warms up I am sure that the gardens will look lovely.
In the grounds of the Abbey there are the ruins of the original Abbey which is a shrine to St. Edmund the Saxon king of East Anglia who was killed by invading Danes in 869AD. The Abbey became a site of pilgrimage and the town developed into a flourishing cloth-making centre. With the dissolution of the monasteries the Abbey was largely destroyed and fell into ruins. The new St.Edmundsbury Cathedral was created in 1914 and was extended in the 1960s at the eastern end. A new gothic tower was added as part of a Millennium project and has recently been completed.
Our second stop was Peter Beales Rose Garden at Attleborough. Once we were off the coach we could smell the aroma of the roses and once inside we were entranced with the magnificent displays. There are large and small pergolas smothered with roses. The flower beds are a riot of colours with floribunda roses and many other plants, the smell is incredible.
At 3pm many of us made our way to the gazebo where Ian Limmer, the nursery manager, and his brother told us of how Peter Beales had started his garden in 1969 and continued his work until his death in 2013. Unfortunately Peter’s wife had predeceased him by 6 months and their daughter died 6 months after Peter. Their son decided not to carry on and so, for the first time since the business began, they do not have a member of the Beales family working there.
Ian started work at the nursery as a Saturday boy and after attending a horticultural college has worked in the gardens all his working life. Ian told us he has been to the RHS Chelsea flower show for 42 years and they have won 26 gold medals. The two men then showed us how they propagate the roses the take a bud from an existing rose stem and put it into a root stock .They did it quickly and it looked so easy when they were doing it and they told us that they employ people to take buds off of the stem and that a fast worker can often take off 4000 a day and on a 10 hour shift can earn £400 a day!!
At last it was time to leave and, of course, many roses plants were bought with many going home to add a new plant to their gardens. Within 5 minutes of leaving the gardens the heavens opened and down came the rain. We had a good trip home and by the time we got onto the M25 the rain stopped and we arrived home without ever having to open our umbrellas. Another wonderful day.
17th July: Deal and Walmer Castle & Gardens - Terry Threlfall
The trip to Deal was different from other horticultural society outings, in that Walmer is but a suburb of Deal, itself a traditional small seaside town with promenade, pier, shingly beach and many fish and chip shops. Also many colourful Asian visitors, it presumably being one stop on the ‘see England’ tour for foreign tourists.
We walked along the prom, had our fish and chip lunch and went round Deal Castle. This was a useful prelude to the visit to Walmer, because Deal and Walmer castle when built were similar. They were commissioned by Henry VIII as a precaution against French and Spanish invasion. They are three-tiered circular wedding cakes with semi-circular bastions protruding, hiding a maze of passages within. But, whilst Deal is untouched, Walmer was converted into a cosy house by William Pitt, one of the Wardens of the Cinque Ports, whose residence is here. Other notable wardens included the Queen Mother, Sir Winston Churchill, W.H. Smith, founder of the stationery chain and Wellington, to whom much of the present interior is devoted. The weather was superb and the gardens extensive and colourful. There were glasshouses, a terrace, orchard, vegetable gardens, flower gardens including the Queen Mother’s garden plus an impressive long border. We savoured our ice creams and came away happy and contented with the splendid day out.
15th August: Marlow and Stonor House & Gardens - Terry Threlfall
Valerie worked her magic again and provided the only sunny dry day in a wet week for the outing. Marlow is a town of ancient buildings, many of flint plus brick, situated on the Thames, with many shops and much to look at, including parks, significant buildings, a church with an elaborate tower and an ancient bridge over the Thames. Despite this, it has not woken up to tourists. The coach driver, commenting on the lack of parking for coaches, supposed that the last coach they had here was probably horse-drawn.
We walked down through winding lanes to the lock and observed a long boat going through. Then we lunched at a hostelry where Jerome K. Jerome wrote part of ‘Three men in a boat’ before setting off past many dwellings by the river each surrounded by parkland to Stonor. Stonor itself is wonderfully set in vast parklands and rolling hills. The house was built over many centuries and is totally but delightfully higgledy-piggledy. The same family have lived here for 8 centuries, so have amassed all sorts of unusual objects. After a pleasant stroll around the uniquely terraced, partly walled, garden at the rear of the house, unfortunately toward the end of the season for the herbaceous border, we enjoyed afternoon tea and cakes in the tea room, before setting off on an uneventful journey home.
17th September: Ely and Oxburgh Hall & Gardens - Valerie Andrews
We arrived in Ely at 11am after a clear run and the sun was shining! Many were in need of a coffee and we found ours in the converted Almonry where long ago the monks of Ely Cathedral tended the sick. We looked at the map and decided that as there wasn’t time enough to view the Cathedral we would take a leisurely stroll through the back streets which led us to the river. As we sat down to eat our lunch we had a variety of ducks join us! A nearby poster helped identify them. Sitting in the sun we waved to the longboats passing by and chatted to the U&DHS members who had also decided to walk along the river.
We walked slowly back through the park and Cathedral grounds to the coach and drove off through the fens to reach Oxburgh Hall. Entering the gardens we viewed the long border which now had the autumn coloured flowers and then around the formal bedding near the moat. There was a lot of repair work being carried out on the House. Ladders were propped up against the walls and balanced on large water containers to avoid damaging the moat lining. We entered the House and in every room were guides to explain the contents and the lives of the families who had once lived there. The family being Catholic had built in Tudor times a priest hole which for our members seemed the most popular place to view and visit. After carefully walking down a narrow winding staircase it was time for tea and a NT piece of cake and then the shop. We had time to enjoy walking through the wooded areas surrounding the Hall before our journey home. The sun was still shining as we arrived back in Upminster on what was our last outing for 2019.
Thank you all for the support you have given me which in turn has made the outings so successful and enjoyable.
Diana Pennell is now Outings Secretary and as you can see from this 2010 Handbook has chosen some more interesting places to visit. She is looking forward to receiving your application forms!!