Heale House and Salisbury – 16 February

We left Bradford on Avon with a full coach on a slightly dull morning. How many members on the coach had heard of Heale House I wondered?  It lies 4 miles north of Salisbury near Upper Woodford on a tributary of the Hampshire/Salisbury Avon.  It is private house and is not open to the public.  However, the history is interesting.  It was built in the latter half of the 16th century by Sir William Greene and had many owners until it was purchased by Hon. Louis Greville in l894, a great Uncle of the present owners, the Rasch family.

In 1651 Charles II secretly took refuge there for six nights after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester while waiting for a ship to carry him to France.

We had two hours to walk around the garden and have a coffee in the small restaurant.

There are eight acres and it was designed in 1910 by Harold Peto and  planted to provide colour throughout the year.  Our visit, of course, was arranged to see the carpets of snowdrops which covered the grounds and the banks of the river, and they were absolutely spectacular.  A vision of white spread before us wherever we went.

Louis Greville was in the diplomatic service and acquired a bridge and authentic tea house on his travels to Japan to form the basis of his new Arts and Crafts style garden.

Then it was onwards to Salisbury for the afternoon.   So much to see there, it was difficult to choose what to do in a few hours, from the mine of information provided by our organiser. I knew I wanted to visit one of the music shops, having lost our two in Bath, and I had been to the Cathedral a few times and seen the magnificent Magna Carta in the Chapter House (The Chapter House is, or was, used for the administration of the monastery or cathedral).

The Museum had an “Celebration of Art” exhibition and these were pieces of art purchased by a Heritage Lottery Fund project to celebrate the work of Wiltshire’s creative people. They consisted of paintings, sculptures, pottery and printing. All very varied and with lots of great talent displayed.

Walking through the Cathedral Close is seeing history unfold, and there is a small book in the museum shop which explains the history of all the houses, and what caught my eye was a memorial to three Protestant martyrs who were burnt at the stake in 1556.

On the way home an appeal was made for “Guest organisers” for a one off event.    This could also be couple of friends, partners, etc.  If we are to continue to have these wonderful outings, and they are certainly popular, there has to be an organiser, so do think about volunteering so that we can continue to enjoy these events to wonderful places.

Joyce Shaw

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