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summer excursions

Excursions are only open to members of Wakefield Historical Society or Wakefield Civic Society and their guests.

Downloadable booking forms:

1. For Durham and Leeds Town Hall

2. For Doncaster Mansion House & Brodsworth and Wakefield Cathedral

For any queries please email Geoffrey Wood:


All coach excursions will depart from the turning circle in front of Wakefield Bus Station on Providence Street at 9am.


Tuesday 4th July, Doncaster Mansion House and Brodsworth Hall

This year is the 300th anniversary of the birth of James Paine, prolific architect in Yorkshire and the north. His legacy includes our own Nostell Priory and the magnificent Doncaster Mansion House which is one of only three in the country. It was built to entertain wealthy racegoers to the St. Leger and other racing events and has hosted many royal guests including H.M. Queen Elizabeth II. It is a splendid example of Georgian architecture both internally and externally. There is a small exhibition about James Paine and I am trying to obtain someone to give us a short talk about him. There will of course be tea/coffee and biscuits on arrival and a guided tour of the building. There will be time to enjoy a leisurely lunch in Doncaster at your own expense before departing for Brodsworth Hall where we shall spend the afternoon. The cost for this part of the excursion is £2.50.

Brodsworth Hall was built in the 1860s as a Victorian Mansion for the wealthy Thellusson banking family and still has traces of its former opulence despite being in a dilapidated state when rescued by English Heritage in 1988. English Heritage has conserved the most outstanding rooms and restored them to their former grandeur but others have been left "as found" to illustrate the decay and dilapidation that overtook many grand houses in the twentieth century with owners struggling to keep up with the spiralling costs of repair and maintenance. The gardens are extensive and quite stunning and have been restored from a wilderness to their original splendour with topiary, statue walks, fern dell and grotto, and wild rose dell. There is no guided tour here so you are free to wander at will in house and gardens and to have afternoon tea in the cafe in your own time and at your own expense.

Cost:- Entry to Brodsworth is free to English Heritage members (don't forget your membership card!) and remember that Life Members can take in an additional person.

Please indicate on your application form if you are a member of English Heritage. We should qualify for a group discount for the non-members but this will depend on the number of EH members versus non-members and will not be known until the visit. The cost of entry for non-members therefore will be £10 but, if we can obtain a discount, it will be repaid to you at the time of the visit.

Total Cost of day including coach (£16):- Members of English Heritage: £18.50, non members £28.50.

Previously advertised:

Wednesday, 10th May 2017 – Hucknall and Newstead

Our first visit of the new season has a Lord Byron theme and takes us firstly to the small ex-coal mining town of Hucknall in Nottinghamshire. After tea/coffee and biscuits on arrival at St. Mary's parish church (£3), we have a talk and guided tour of the church. Of special interest is the Byron family tomb which contains not only Byron himself but also his daughter Ada Lovelace who can justly claim to be the world's first computer programmer. There is other Byron memorabilia, a superb collection of stained glass by C.E.Kempe to rival that in our own cathedral! and tales of a Victorian prize fighter who was champion of England, a flying bedstead and the only German P.O.W. to successfully escape in World War II. There will be free time to explore and read the many information panels. Lunch will be at your own leisure and you may have time to hunt out the blue plaque indicating the birth place of that iconic figure of our younger years Eric Coates or view the tallest statue in Nottinghamshire created recently by Graham Ibberson in memory of the hundreds of men and boys who perished in the local pits.

In the afternoon we visit the nearby Newstead Abbey - the former home of Lord Byron,now owned and run by the City of Nottingham. Founded in 1170 as an Augustinian Priory, it met its end in 1539 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It was bought by Sir John Byron, the ancestor of the famous poet, and the picturesque ruins were later incorporated into a stately mansion. We shall have exclusive use of the building for a guided tour (cost £10 which includes gardens) and then there will be free time to explore the extensive gardens (including the famous Japanese garden) and have afternoon tea at the estate cafe.

Cost: coach £16, morning coffee £3, Newstead Abbey £10. Total cost payable on booking: £29

Thursday, 8th June 2017 – Durham Town Hall and Brancepeth Castle

Our second visit will be to County Durham and we start with a visit to the ancient Town Hall of Durham City. Durham's mayor is the only one in England other than the Lord Mayor of London who is entitled to have an armed escort. The building occupies the site of a former palace built by the once powerful Neville family and is now a mixture of Victorian and Georgian but also incorporates the mediaeval Guildhall. It is a historical treasure trove with fine portraits, furniture, and other artefacts, splendid stained glass windows, a mayor's parlour, and a magnificent Great Hall. After tea/coffee and biscuits on arrival we shall have a guided tour (cost £4). Lunch will be at your leisure in the city.

In the afternoon we travel west to Brancepeth Caslte, an ancient foundation dating back to the 12th century. It was inherited by the Nevilles who held it for centuries before their fall from grace after the failure in 1569 of their attempted Rising of the North, which was planned here. It has had a long and turbulent history with many owners. Heavily restored in the 18th century, it is now owned by the Revd. Alison Hobbs who is the local vicar as well as village postmistress! She will give us a guided tour of this vast edifice and give us an insight into her problems in keeping this historic building upright and watertight. At the end of the tour we shall enjoy a well-earned cup of tea and piece of cake. (Cost of tour and refreshments £7.50)

We shall then adjourn to the nearby St. Brandon's church for a guided tour of this remarkable old building completely renewed after the devastating fire of 1998. (Cost £3).

Cost: coach £16, tour of town hall with refreshments £4, tour of castle with refreshments £7.50, tour of church £3. Total cost payable on booking: £30.50

newstead 2

Visit to Newstead Abbey May 2017


For these outings, we ask you to make your own way to the venue. There are no booking charges. It may be possible to organise lifts for those of you without your own transport. Please contact us.


Tuesday 25th July Wakefield Cathedral

Malcolm Warburton the Visits Organiser at the cathedral has kindly offered to give us a guided tour of the newly refurbished cathedral. This tour will last about an hour and will include the recently reclaimed crypt and chapter house which had been neglected and languished as a general storage area for many years but has now been restored to use. We shall meet near the font at 2.00pm.

You may wish to arrive earlier as there will be a free (public) concert by Daniel Gordon a brilliant young pianist from 1.00pm of about 40 minutes duration. It will be the last of the current season before the summer break.
And if you wish to arrive earlier still, you can enjoy a light lunch in the cathedral café before the entertainment.

Previously advertised:

Wednesday, 17th May, at 1.00pm – West Yorkshire Police Headquarters, Carr Gate

This is a visit to the newly expanded facility just off Bradford Road and is a guided tour which should give us an insight into the workings of our local force. It will include the mounted section (horses), firearms section and the helicopter etc.
Please come in outdoor clothing and "sensible" shoes. Photography is allowed in some sections only. The visit may have to be cancelled at short notice for operational reasons, similarly it may be that on the day of our visit some sections may be closed.

Please arrive at 12.45pm and if you are coming by car be prepared to carry additional passengers as parking is limited at the site. There is a regular bus service from Wakefield bus station every half hour. It is the 425 or 427 to Bradford, leaving at 07 and 37 minutes past each hour, journey time is about 15 minutes.

Numbers are limited to 20 but there is no charge. There is no need to send in an application form but you MUST ring our organiser, Geoffrey Wood, on 01924 371207 to book, because we have to submit a list of names one week beforehand.

Monday, 26th June at 2.30pm Leeds Town Hall

This is a repeat of last year's visit which many missed due to there being only a limited number of tickets. It is a guided tour which lasts about 1½ hours and covers the concert hall and the old courtrooms and basement police cells which are no longer used. It also includes a climb to the top of the tower to view the belfry and clock mechanism – and the splendid views over the city. There is no lift but for those who prefer not to face the challenge there will be chance to see a video of the tower climb.

Please arrive at 2.15pm at the side entrance in Calverley Street. Photography is allowed. The cost is £4.70.
As numbers are limited to 10 please contact our organiser Geoffrey Wood on 01924 371207 to ascertain whether or not there is a place for you before sending in your application form and cheque.