12 May 2019Tour of North Yorkshire
08 October 2018Tour of Malta and Gozo - report by Sue Dennis
08 October 2017Liverpool Tour Report by Sue Dennis
04 May 2017President's Day out to Hughenden and Waddesdon
09 October 2016Highgate DFS Visit to Porto and Galicia
30 June 2016Highgate DFAS AGM
07 January 2016London Volunteers in Museums Awards
14 April 2015Visit to St Petersburg, March 2015

Click on a row and scroll to display more details about the news

Tour of North Yorkshire
Sunday 12 May 2019


                   Highgate Arts Society North Yorkshire Tour

May 12th – 16th, 2019

At 8 o’clock on Sunday, May 12th twenty four of us left in a coach from outside St. Michael’s Church bound for our Highgate Arts Society visit to North Yorkshire. The sky was blue and the weather forecast good.

The sun shone and we moved pretty quickly up the M1 and A1 to arrive at Harewood House in time for lunch and a guided tour of this wonderful home of the Earl of Harewood, renowned for its stunning architecture, magnificent Adam interiors , Chippendale furniture, fine porcelain and outstanding art collections.    We were also there at the time of the Harewood Biennial celebrating craft and craftsmanship, and of course to enjoy its beautiful gardens at their springtime best under the Yorkshire sun.  

And we then moved on to our home for the next four nights – The White Hart - an elegant Georgian hotel centrally placed in the Montpelier Quarter of Harrogate, where we all had dinner together.

The following morning, with the sun still shining, we were met by David, our local guide, who took us on a walking tour of this historic spa town which ended in the café for which Harrogate is so well known – Betty’s Tea Room.

We could of course, have spent hours there, but couldn’t linger too long as we had to move on by coach to Fountains Abbey and the Studley Royal Water Gardens.

This ‘wonder of the north’, located in a secluded valley and one of the most beautiful and sites, as recognised by its World Heritage status.   The magnificent Cistercian Abbey built in 1132 is the largest monastic ruin in the country and was mind-blowingly impressive – both in size and in beauty.   And the adjoining 18th C gardens of Studley Royal were truly spectacular water gardens, with its temples, follies, statues, tranquil ponds and rushing cascades.

The following day was one designed to give us an overview of the Yorkshire Dales.    First we travelled north to Barnard Castle where we had a guided tour of The Bowes Museum which really was the most amazing and stunning French style Chateau situated on a hillside overlooking the village of Barnard Castle.   I have to say looking somewhat out of place in its elegance and grandeur, but its contents were a cornucopia of treasures (mostly French) where we, as enthusiasts for all sorts of art, were in our seventh heaven!

But the swan song there was literally given by a swan – the famous Silver Swan – that automaton that performs just once a day at 2 o’clock and mesmerises us for a total of  32 seconds as it sits on a ‘stream’ of glass rods, surrounded by silver leaves,  dips down to ‘catch’ and ‘eat’  the small silver fish that can be seen ‘swimming’, before lifting its head to look around.    The ultimate swan song before we left to finish the afternoon with a journey through the Northern Yorkshire Dales, passing through Masham and Leyburn with a stop for tea in Richmond, before returning to our hotel for the evening.

On Wednesday, May 5th we spent most of the morning in Ripon, where we visited their Cathedral and shown round by  a most excellent guide who explained the Cathedral’s long history with its plethora of architectural styles, and who kindly and exceptionally allowed us to visit the Saxon Crypt.

We then moved on to Ripley Castle, the ancestral home of the Ingilby family who have been in residence for twenty six generations.   We again were shown round and even caught a glance of the current Lady of the Manor who was ‘doing’ the flowers!

After lunch the final visit of the day was to Newby Hall, where we were again given a guided tour and had plenty of time to explore the most beautiful gardens, which is famous for its double herbaceous borders which sweep down to the River Ure.   Newby Hall is home to the Compton family and was built in the late 17th C.    A really elegant and beautiful home, including a domed Sculpture Gallery and Tapestry Room built to hold the classical statuary and Gobelin tapestries brought back by one of their ancestors from his Grand Tour in the mid 18th C.

And then it was our final day.  A day to travel back to the south.   A journey to reflect on all that we had seen during four very full days.  But we weren’t quite ready to leave Yorkshire yet.

On leaving our hotel in Harrogate we journeyed west to Wakefield, and 45 minutes later we were outside the award-winning Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield, designed by David Chipperfield Architects, opened in May 2011 and perfectly sited on the waterfront in the City where Barbara Hepworth was born.     We had time for a very informative guided visit and time to enjoy at our own pace, before boarding the coach to head south.

Colin, our wonderful driver who had been with us throughout the tour, drove us safely back to Highgate and our heartfelt thanks went out to him for his care and interest and all those little things he did to ensure that our journeys were smooth and comfortable

We arrived at St. Michael’s Church in the early evening, with our heads packed with memories of a really enjoyable few days.  Not only had we marvelled at so many of the treasures and sites of North Yorkshire and enjoyed the company of our fellow Arts Society Highgate members, we had also been blessed with the most fantastic May weather – clear blue skies with lots of sunshine and NO rain. We might not have come back in such a happy mood if we had had grey skies and rain!  I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.


Sue Dennis