St. Mary's Church, Handsworth
Aston Hall, Birmingham
Erasmus Darwin House Museum
National Brewery Centre
Lauren Guttridge receives her Award
Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre
Chained Library Exhibition Centre
News of AOUG in the West Midlands (04)
A Visit to St. Mary’s Church, Handsworth, Birmingham
Our visit to St. Mary’s Church, Handsworth was spectacular in helping us recall past history which brought about the birth of the Industrial Age. Often, this ancient church is referred to as ‘Handsworth Old Church’ and ‘The Cathedral of the Industrial Revolution’. It is an ancient church built in 1160 during Norman times and has undergone many restorations and extensions. Important reconstructions were made in 1820 and 1870. Our members were very pleased to explore unique features of this church with Rev. Dr. Robert Stephen. We started from the main entrance where we had our Welcome & Introduction and went round the church. We ended our tour at the main entrance where we had refreshments. Great men of the Industrial Revolution were laid to rest at this church. Matthew Boulton’s monument is on one side of the North wall of the Sanctuary and on the opposite side, we observed the monument of William Murdock. James Watt’s monument is South of the Sanctuary in a Chapel. This magnificent church is surrounded by a historic Churchyard which contains a graveyard.
Aston Hall, Birmingham
Our visit to Aston Hall, Birmingham took place in September, during the Heritage Open Days. It was an exciting day with pleasant weather around us. There were many members of the public also present. It was a very busy day with a great deal to explore in this historic Jacobean House. It was designed by the architect, John Thorpe. Construction work was carried out by Sir Thomas Holte from 1618 to 1635. However, Sir Thomas moved into this house in 1631.
There were two floors open for public to visit - The ground floor and first floor. Aston Hall is a Grade I listed building with a remarkable history. It contains items of furniture, paintings and tapestries displayed in many rooms. On 18th October, 1642, King Charles I stayed a night at this Hall. This history is depicted in displays. Unfortunately, the English Civil War soon followed from 1642 to 1652 and we observed that severe damages were made to this new house during the English Civil War. Some of damages can be still seen. After our visit, we gathered in Museum Cafe for refreshments.
Soho HouseA guided tour of Soho House, Handsworth, Birmingham took place on Sunday 5th March, 2017. This house is a listed Grade II 18th Century building where Matthew Boulton lived from 1766 until his death in 1809. The Lunar Society of Birmingham used to meet in this house regularly. After the death of Matthew Boulton, this house was passed to his son, Matthew Robinson Boulton and thereafter, to his grandson, Matthew Piers Watt Boulton. It was sold in1850. It had many different owners until Birmingham City Council acquired it 1990 and convert it into a museum in 1995.
Erasmus Darwin House Museum.
Our visit to Erasmus Darwin House in Lichfield took place on Saturday 18th February, 2017. Erasmus Darwin who lived from 1731to 1802, was a famous physician, inventor, scientist, educationalist and poet. He lived in this house from 1758 to 1781. This house is a listed Grade I building and it commemorates his life history. Today, it is a museum dedicated to him with three exhibition rooms, library, conference facilities and herb garden. This house had previously served as residence for Cathedral Officials and a shelter for women. This house is open for conferences, receptions and weddings. This house is run by a charitable foundation. There is a gift shop and a cellar which is open to visitors via guided tours only.
A group of us enjoyed a very interesting tour around the National Brewery Centre. We learnt about how brewing had developed through the ages and heard stories about brewers’ lives. We were particularly amazed by the quantity of beer they drank - one job in the brewery came with a daily ration of sixteen pints! Although we also heard about how hard some of the work was and in some cases dangerous too, for example some of the men who cleaned out the tanks were so overcome by the fumes that they would be rendered unconscious for about twelve hours.
We also met the Brewery Centre’s two beautiful shire horses, who at the time were being prepared to pull a bride to her wedding later that day.
Following our tour we enjoyed a hearty lunch in the Centre’s restaurant and, those who wanted to, were able to partake in some beer tasting.
Worcester and Birmingham
Members enjoyed a private tour around a National Trust property in the heart of the city of Worcester. Following the tour we made our way to the Cathedral to enjoy lunch in the beautiful and historic surroundings. We enjoyed a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. We learnt about how they make the scenery and were intrigued by the mask makers. We were also pleased to be joined by Lauren Guttridge, one of the Award winners of the “Awards in the Regions and Nations” and to be able to share in her celebrations at receiving this Award.
Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre
Once again members came together at the “Malt House” for our Region’s “Summer Meal”. We were also pleased to be joined by Abdirisak Hussein, one of the award winners of the “Awards in the Regions and Nations” and to be able to share in his celebration at receiving this Award. Then on a beautifully sunny afternoon in early Autumn, members met at the “Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre” in the small town of Craven Arms in Shropshire for a Farmers’ Market. Following a delicious lunch in the café we explored the Onny Meadows along the banks of the River Onny and enjoyed seeing the wildlife.
Hereford Cathedral’s Mappa Mundi and Chained Library Exhibition Centre
Members enjoyed a fascinating day at Hereford Cathedral. It started with a lunchtime introductory talk from Canon Chris Pullin giving us a brief history of the Cathedral and how it came to have a copy of Magna Carta and also about what to look out for on the Mappa Mundi. After enjoying the talk and our lunch we made our way to the Exhibition Centre where we learnt more about the Mappa Mundi before seeing the original and then entering the Chained Library to see their copy of Magna Carta.
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