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summer excursions

Our Excursion Programme for 2016 has now ended. The Programme for Summer 2017 will be added next May

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

The finished Programme for 2016 appears below:

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


The original house was built in the early part of the 18th century and was greatly enlarged about 1800 by James Wyatt for William Danby. It is now concealed behind the porte-cochere and the tower at the east end of the south range. Further improvements took place in the 1820s when Robert Lugar added a further storey to the Wyatt range, castellated everything, gave turrets to the west range and finally added the round tower and porte-cochere. The overall effect is to give the building a romantic effect. It is of course known now as the Swinton Hall Hotel and has family links with Burton Agnes in the East Riding.

We have arranged morning coffee for 10.30 which is included in the cost of the day and it will then be possible to see the public rooms on the ground floor (author Simon Jenkins refers to copies of the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal in the bar) or visit the extensive gardens and parkland with the River Ure close by. Given good weather there will be time to see the rhododendron and azalea bushes in full bloom. At 12 noon our coach will leave Swinton Park for Masham.

The town of Masham is close by and has a good range of eating places. For those interested, the parish church of St Mary on the market square has some interesting associations. William Danby has a monument there as has Sir Marmaduke Wyvill of Low Burton Hall, just outside Masham. Of note also is the 9th century anglo-saxon shaft with a range of carvings.

The guided tour of Theakstons Brewery is timed for 3pm, and includes a complimentary pint of beer or a soft drink.
Please note, there is no parking or drop off point at the brewery and you will need to walk from the Market Square to the brewery, about 2-5 minutes. Also, there are some steep stairways and narrow alleyways in the brewery.
Cost: The total cost of the day is £11 (coffee and tour) plus the coach at £16, all payable on booking.


Today we head for the hunting capital of the Midlands and the home of the pork pie, Melton Mowbray. We hope to meet members of the local civic society for a short guided tour of the town centre which will include the Olde Pie Shoppe for those who are interested in the production process. Market day is on Tuesday so the town centre will be relatively quiet and we will aim to break for a bite to eat at midday.
In the afternoon we leave Melton at 1.15 as we need to arrive at Harlaxton at 1.45, allowing for traffic. Created by a wealthy businessman Gregory Gregory to compete with nearby Belvoir Castle, the original architect was Salvin but he was quickly replaced by others as Gregory's ambitions increased. The finished product contains various styles and for this reason the tour will take about an hour and a half. The House was sold by the surviving family in 1937 and after a brief tenure by the Jesuits, it was finally bought by the University of Evansville, Indiana. Expect to hear mid-west American accents.

Once the formal tour is over, tea/coffee and biscuits will be available and the administration is quite happy for us to visit the gardens and relax before setting back to Wakefield at about 4.30.

Cost: The total cost of the day is £12 plus the coach fare £16, payable on booking.


Multum in Parvo (Much in Little ) is the very apt motto of England's smallest county Rutland whose county town of Oakham we shall visit this morning. After refreshments (included in the cost of the day) at the Whipper Inn in the ancient market place with its stocks and buttercross, we shall have a short stroll to the Castle for a free guided tour. It was built shortly after 1180 by Walkelin de Ferrers. Little of this now remains except for the magnificent Great Hall – the earliest of its type still surviving in England. It has some fine carvings and a unique collection of horseshoes and was latterly the County Assize Court.

Next we go to the Church of All Saints, contemporary with the castle, where we shall have a further guided tour. Then we adjourn for lunch at your leisure (and expense!). There will be some time to explore this charming town before we depart at 2.30.

We join the coach for the short trip to Barnsdale Gardens. These were established over 30 years ago by Geoff Hamilton of BBC2 Gardeners' World fame and are extensive and varied with a well-stocked shop and tearoom. The group rate of £6 is included in the cost of the day. We aim to leave about 5pm and should be able to enjoy views of Rutland Water as we head for the A1 and home.

Cost: Total cost of day £8 plus coach fare of £16, payable on booking.


Wollaton Hall, just outside Nottingham, was completed in 1588 for Sir Francis Willoughby who had made his money from his estates and local coal. The Hall was designed by Robert Smythson who had worked on other houses like Hardwick Hall and Longleat. Subsequent alterations were made by Wyatville in the early 19th century. The Hall was sold to Nottingham Council in 1924 and in 2007 a £9 million restoration programme was completed. As a result there is much to see.

On arrival we will have refreshments followed by a guided tour of the Hall. The Prospect Room at the top of the Hall might be a climb but other parts are easily accessible. There will be a lunch break after the tour and there is a café within the grounds. We will allow plenty of time for eating as of course it will be the school holiday period and it is likely to be busy. There are attractive gardens and the park to explore as well.

We take the coach at 2.15 to travel north of Nottingham to Papplewick Hall which is noted for its interiors. While there are no famous names recorded, the interiors are influenced by Adam and have been well maintained. The original family lost the Hall in 1910 in a gambling debt and it was later bought by the Godwin-Austen family who continue to live there. We will be welcomed by the current owner.

Cost: Total cost of day is £13.50 plus the coach fare at £16, payable on booking.


The city of Lancaster is often over-looked as a tourist destination but there is much of interest to see there. Our first stop will be the Ruskin Library building which is part of the University of Lancaster campus. The Library was commissioned specifically to house a large collection of Ruskin's original works. It was designed by Richard MacCormac to express some of Ruskin's preoccupations especially Venice and the medieval world while using modern materials and concepts. The building looks out over Morecambe Bay with views over to Coniston Fells where Ruskin lived at Brantwood. There are regular exhibitions of his work and we will catch the tail-end of the summer exhibition.

The town centre, where there will be time for lunch, has two museums of particular interest, the Judges' Lodgings with a large collection of Gillow furniture and the Maritime Museum which illustrates the city's trading past. As the budgets for the next year have yet to determine opening times and prices we will plan our itinerary nearer the date though admission prices are not expected to be steep.

Later in the day we will head for Morecambe and visit the Art Deco Midland Hotel which has had a complete makeover by Urban Splash. The Ravillious Bar is open for tea and cake and the Restaurant is available for full afternoon tea (at £18.50).

There is a tick box on the booking form for anyone interested in this option. The town itself has many cafes and on a good day the promenade can provide an ozone-packed walk.
Given the distance we will aim to leave at 5pm to allow two hours for the return journey back to Wakefield.

Cost: Total cost of day: £16 for coach payable on booking with local admission charges to be collected on the day.

If you would like afternoon tea at the Midland Hotel, this should be booked and paid for in advance. We will confirm places as soon as possible.



Visit to Harlaxton Manor, Lincolnshire, June 2016

For these outings, we ask you to make your own way to the venue. It may be possible to organise car share for those of you without your own transport. Please contact us for details.

Additional visit on 20th August to Rothwell, 10.20am

This will be a conducted tour by a local historian across Rothwell Pastures (about half a mile walk along made-up paths) and will last about an hour. The guide will tell you about the history of the site from Bronze Age to Middle Ages with reference to archaeological finds from the site which was part of the Honour of Pontefract given by William I to Ilbert De Lacy. It was a hunting park specialising in wild boar and thus frequently attracted royal visitors. It is believed to have had a Saxon Hall and later a fortified manor house known as Rothwell Castle with mill and eel ponds. The site is now a scheduled ancient monument.

The cost of the walking tour is £2 per person. There is no need to fill in forms or post in cheques for this amount – just pay committee member Geoff Wood on the day. However it would be appreciated if you could telephone Geoff on 01924 371207 so that he has some idea of numbers and whom to expect. His mobile number in case of difficulties on the day is 07984 81 84 73.

On the day, please meet in the car park opposite Rothwell Parish Church at 10.20 am for a prompt start at 10.30. There is a bus stop right by the church and the number 444 from Wakefield bus station stops there. They run every 20 minutes and the journey takes about half an hour. Geoff advises catching the 9.40 am bus from the bus station.

1. Saturday, 28th May: LEEDS TOWN HALL

We are all very familiar with the exterior of Cuthbert Brodrick's masterpiece opened by Queen Victoria in 1858 but this is a rare opportunity to visit the interior. The guided tour lasts an hour to an hour and a half and covers the concert hall (already known to many of you), plus the former court rooms and police cells with which you are probably not so well acquainted! For the very agile the tour includes a climb of 202 steps up to the clocktower with its excellent views (sorry no lift!). However this part of the tour is not obligatory! Places are very limited on the tour so book early. If there is a greater demand however we shall repeat it at a later date. Enter by the side door in Calverley Street for 10.15am.
Cost: £4.50 for the tour, payable on booking.

2. Friday, 1st July: SHANKS RECYCLING, South Kirby Business Park, Brigantian Way, South Kirby, WF9 3TH.

Every year, Wakefield Council collects around 165,000 tonnes of rubbish. At the moment, approximately 39% of it is recycled and the rest is buried in landfill. This is costly for the Council and the tax payer, and it's bad for the environment too. Since February 2013, Shanks has been operating waste management services previously provided by the Council, including the seven Household Waste Recycling Centres and 38 'Bring Sites' across the district. Shanks has built new facilities, closed some of the older sites and created a number of improvements to the Household Waste Recycling Centres all with the aim of helping to reduce landfill, improving recycling levels to at least 52%, and creating sustainable green energy.
Our visit will be to the South Kirby site and we will be meeting in the Education Unit for a slide show and talk. No need for any hard hats or special clothing! There is car parking available on site. The visit will last around an hour and a half, depending on level of interest shown by those present. The event starts at 11.00 am so we suggest you assemble from 10.45 am onwards.
Cost: Free

3. Thursday, 21st July: THE LEEDS LIBRARY, 18 Commercial Street, Leeds, LS1 6AL.

This is a private library founded in 1768 and is housed in a 200 year old building in central Leeds. The collection numbers over 150.000 books and the oldest dates from 1483. We shall have a guided tour and be shown a selection of their oldest and rarest treasures. If anyone has a special request, do contact us beforehand and we can arrange for you to view it. The guided tour takes about an hour but you will be free to browse at your leisure at the end of the tour. Places are limited so book early: if numbers warrant it, we shall arrange a future revisit.
The library is on the first floor at 18, Commercial Street (at the Park Row end) and the entrance is between the Co-operative Bank and Paper Chase. Please arrive by 10