Owlpen Manor. Over forty members and their guests were welcomed to Owlpen Manor near Uley by Honourable Company member, Sir Nicholas Mander, and his family. Following an address by our host, we had the chance to explore parts of the historic house and gardens. Still very much a family home, the estate has a recorded history that dates back close to a thousand years. The Manders moved here in 1974. A fascinating evening when, for once, the weather was perfect!
Musical Tour of Gloucester Cathedral. Over thirty people - Hon Co members and their guests - were treated to an evening of carefully selected music as they were guided around the main sections of the Cathedral including the Nave, Quire and the recently refurbished Lady Chapel. The St Cecillia Singers’ expertly produced programme focused on local composers all of whom had had a strong connection with the building or the county. These included works by Hubert Parry, Ivor Gurney ,Herbert Howells and Sir Herbert Brewer amongst others. On a very positive note the evening raised over £800 which was being given to the Cathedral’s music department. One of our members reflected, “ In all our visits to the Cathedral we have never seen it so beautiful and tranquil, the benefit of a private event with only 30 or so souls to enjoy the music talks and delicious food“.
On 21 June twenty-one members of the Group visited Rodmarton Manor. They were shown round by John Biddulph, the current owner, and Arts and Crafts expert, Mary Greensted, explaining the history of the building and its estate.
On 22 May fourteen members of the Group visited St Mary's Church, Fairford, which is known for its medieval stained glass
The highlight of the year for the Arts and Heritage Group was the award of the inaugural David Vaisey Library Prize by the playright Alan Bennett. The winner was Bream Library, which received £5,000 as an acknowledgement of the work they have done in attracting new readers to the premises. The award was presented at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in October. Before the award winning library was announced Alan Bennett spoke passionately about his love of books, which began as he grew up in Leeds during the thirties and forties. He went on to explain how he had met David Vaisey (who eventually went on to become Head of the Bodleian Libary) whilst the pair of them were studying at Oxford University, and how they had remained friends to this day. This competition for the county's libraries will continue in 2018 and applications for the prize will be invited later this year. There's more on this event, including a picture, in the news section here, and on the prize itself on the web here.
Other activities included an exclusive Choral Tour of Gloucester Cathedral with music provided by a Cheltenham based choir, The Oriel Singers. Another well attended event was a behind-the-scenes tour of Chedworth Roman Villa led by member Richard Hoyle.
After five years at the helm Sir Michael McWilliam stepped down as Chair of The Arts and Heritage group and was replaced by Mark Hurrell. Mark said 'It's a real honour to take the Chair of this group that has already made such an impact in supporting the arts and cultural scene in the county. A lot of credit must go to Sir Michael, who will be a hard act to follow. Luckily for us all he will remain involved in the group'.