FRWA Trips and Visits

Check this page for the latest updates on Trips and Visits organised by the Friends of the RWA.

For general information about trips and visits email Barbara Henderson at  (please note 2 “y”s!); or telephone 0117 949 9093; or text only to 07989 354 963.

2022 – Proposed Day Trips

We will have room in the programme for 4 day trips. If you would like to let us know which ones would be of interest to you then we can arrange them accordingly.

1) Herefordshire – Late April/early May

A wonderful opportunity to enjoy the treasures of Hereford Cathedral plus visit the Painted Room at Ledbury and St Catherine’s Church in Hoarwithy (pictured).

The upstairs room of a timber-framed house in Church Street, Ledbury, contains a remarkable and rare example of Elizabethan wall painting.  Discovered thirty years ago during restoration, the floral design is based on an Elizabethan knot garden and incorporates biblical texts.  You could also take in Ledbury Market House (1617 – 1668)

A highlight of any visit to Hereford Cathedral is the Mappa Mundi and Chained Library interpretive exhibition. The Mappa Mundi (1300) is described as the most important and celebrated medieval map in any form.  The Chained Library offers a later view of scholarly thinking.  In addition you can explore the building, and the gardens.

Pevsner described St Catherine’s church (1878) as “the most impressive Victorian church in the country”. Simon Jenkins called it “an astonishing creation.”  Far from Victorian Gothic, the design is eclectic, incorporating a range of styles, notably Italian Romanesque and Byzantine.

Booking forms available in March.

We will have room in the programme for 3 more day trips. If you would like to let us know which ones would be of interest to you then we can arrange them accordingly.

2) Coleton Fishacre, near Dartmouth (NT)

Travel back in time to the Jazz Age and visit the beautiful, award-winning 1920s National Trust country retreat complete with RHS accredited garden by the sea. The arts and crafts exterior hosts a stunning Art Deco interior, complete with original features.

We hope to visit an additional venue between Coleton Fishacre and Bristol.

3) Waddesdon Manor (NT)

Discover this striking French Renaissance-style chateau near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.  See art, gardens, an aviary and wine cellars.  Opened to the public in 1959,  Waddesdon Manor is managed by the Rothschild Foundation, a family charitable trust, on behalf of the National Trust, who took over ownership in 1957. It is home to the internationally-famous Rothschild collections of paintings, sculpture and decorative arts including work by Gainsborough and Joshua Reynolds.  You can also see French 18th century boiseries,  Savonnerie carpets,  Gobelins and Beauvais tapestries, furniture, Sevres ceramics, books, Dutch paintings and Renaissance treasures. Waddesdon Manor holds regular temporary exhibitions. The gardens are listed Grade I on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

4) Stanley Spencer

Sandham Memorial Chapel is in the village of Burghclere, near Newbury   It is a grade I listed 1920s decorated chapel, designed by Lionel Godfrey Pearson.  The chapel was built to accommodate a series of paintings by Stanley Spencer and expresses in paint his military experience during the Great War.  The nineteen canvases, which took six years to complete, are unique in that they depict everyday routine rather than the horror of combat.

We will also visit The Stanley Spencer Gallery, in Cookham, (between Maidenhead and Marlow). Converted from The Wesleyan Chapel in Cookham High Street in 1962, the building was completely refurbished in 2006/7 at a cost of over £800,000, thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund.  It was reopened on 29 September 2007, creating a modern, light space, which displays Spencer’s works to their best advantage.

There will also be an opportunity to explore Cookham, see the locations of Spencer’s Cookham paintings, and enjoy the independent shops and restaurants, in a lovely setting on a bend in the river.

Messums Wiltshire, opened in Autumn 2016, is a pioneering multi-purpose gallery and arts centre celebrating the creative endeavour. The one year anniversary in September 2017 was marked with the opening of the Long Gallery, an old dairy which lies perpendicular to the main tithe barn. This new permanent exhibition gallery focuses on two-dimensional works of art including paintings, drawings, etchings and photographs to complement programming in the barn. The gallery has a long panoramic sweep of a glass window, viewing straight onto the rolling hills of the Fonthill Estate, once owned by the greatest collector of the 19th century, William Beckford.

Salisbury, the location for previous visits by the FRWA, has many items of interest including the Cathedral, which has the best preserved of only four surviving 1215 copies of the Magna Carta, Salisbury Museum, which boasts fantastic collections and exhibitions, the National Trust 18th century Montpesson House and, not far distant, Roche  Court Sculpture Park and Art Gallery.

6) Montacute House and Somerton

Montacute is a National Trust masterpiece of Elizabethan Renaissance architecture and design, with towering walls of glass and glowing ham stone, and surrounding garden. Inside the house are nationally important collections of furniture and textiles and more than fifty portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery. Outside, there is a formal garden and open spaces where avenues of trees lead you out into parkland, bluebell woods and a former motte and bailey castle, now topped by an 18th century folly.

Please note that the ground floor only is accessible to wheelchair users.

Somerton is an ancient settlement, a fine example of small-town Somerset life, packed with history and tradition.  Visit Cow Square, with its Edwardian water fountain, architecture from the 17th and 18th centuries, the Church of St Michael and All Angels, and the wonderful Buttercross.

The ACE Arts Gallery is situated in the beautiful old town hall. The gallery is full of interesting and varied pieces of art. It houses temporary exhibitions and a contemporary craft shop.

Excellent facilities for people with mobility issues.

7) Pre-Christmas trip – Nov/Dec 22

We usually visit a city at this time of year. We have previously visited Oxford, London, and Salisbury. We would be interested to hear your suggestions.

2022 – Residential Visit

The Isle of Purbeck – November 8-11 2022

Grand Hotel, Swanage

Join us for a late autumn visit to the bewitching Isle of Purbeck in Dorset.

We will be staying for three nights in the Grand Hotel in Swanage, beautifully restored from its Victorian origins, and highly recommended for its comfort, service and food.  Guests enjoy use of the Health Spa and Fitness Club, with plunge pool, jacuzzi and sauna.  

As well as the programme of day-time visits, an innovation for the dark evenings is after-dinner talks by local experts on artists, such as Paul Nash, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Mark Gertler and many others who were entranced by Purbeck; and on the idiosyncratic history and architecture of Swanage.  You can end the evening in the hotel’s comfortable bar with open fires and spectacular views of the night sky and the lights around the bay.

On the way to Swanage we have a guided tour of Kingston Lacy house, with its renowned art collection and famous gardens. From Swanage, we take you via the Studland ferry to Bournemouth for the brilliant Russell Cotes art gallery and museum, and the less well-known Red House museum in Christchurch.  For a day in Swanage you are free but we offer you choices: explore the town by taking a tour with a local artist to find locations of well-known paintings; follow a trail to find the evidence of the town’s architectural history; visit an artist’s workplace. You might want to have lunch in the Victorian folly that is Durleston Castle and visit the Great Globe installed in 1887. The journey home on our last day includes a guided tour of the church of St Nicholas in Moreton with its engraved glass windows by Laurence Whistler (1955-1984). T.E.Lawrence is buried in the cemetery.

The price of this visit includes coach travel, and room, breakfast and dinner at The Grand Hotel. All tours and talks are included.  Rates vary according to the choice of hotel room.  Rooms with a sea view cost extra. No single rooms are available; we have negotiated a favourable rate for single occupancy of a double or twin room but there is still a supplement.  In general the cost for the whole visit will be between £427 and £513

For more information or to make a firm booking please contact Priscilla Sorapure ( or Pat Triggs (

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Barbara Henderson, Priscilla Sorapure, Pat Triggs, Janet Taylor

For just £35 a year Friends can make unlimited visits to RWA exhibitions and enjoy a host of other benefits including 10% discounts on trips and visits, as well as making an important contribution to the arts in Bristol and the South West. Find out more and join up here.