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27 February 2020Visit to Aston Hall and Soho House Birmingham
12 November 2019Visit to Barber Institute and Birmingham Hippodrome
25 September 2019Tour of Spain September/October 2019
31 July 2019A Visit to Herefordshire
06 June 2019Visit to Morton Hall and Coughton Court
20 May 2019A Visit to the North East.
04 April 2019An Architectural Walking Tour in Manchester.
28 February 2019Visit to Brampton Bryan Hall nr Knighton.
21 February 2019Birmingham Royal Ballet. Beauty and the Beast. Matinee Performance.
11 October 2018A Visit to Coventry. The New Cathedral, The Herbert Gallery and The Guildhall
31 July 2018A Visit to Hatton Grange. Tuesday 31st July 2018
28 June 2018Visit to Great Witley and Hanbury Hall. Worcs
06 May 2018A Visit to Norfolk
22 September 2017Venice Trip - September 2017

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Visit to Aston Hall and Soho House Birmingham
Thursday 27 February 2020

On 27 February forty members set out to visit Aston Hall, a magnificent seventeenth century red-brick mansion situated on the north side of Birmingham. Built between 1618 and 1635 for Sir Thomas Holte, and home to James Watt Junior from 1817-1848, the recently restored Jacobean Grade-I listed house is surrounded by well-kept picturesque gardens set within Aston Park.  Following an introductory talk we were given a fascinating tour of the interior, led by two excellent guides who bought the history of the hall to life. There is evidence of the English Civil War, including a hole in the staircase made by a cannonball when the house was under siege and  attacked in December 1643 by a Parliamentarian force from Coventry.  In October 1642 Sir Thomas Holte was honoured with a visit by King Charles I as he made his way south from Shrewsbury where he had been raising troops to serve the Royalist cause.  

We then moved on for lunch at Soho House, the elegant home of industrial pioneer Matthew Boulton, who moved there in 1766 so he could be near his business.  Here he hosted fellow members of the Lunar Society* for their monthly meetings attended by like-minded individuals such as Erasmus Darwin, James Watt and Josiah Wedgwood.  Matthew Boulton’s interest in new inventions resulted in Soho House being probably the first building in England to have a central heating system installed since Roman times. In addition he had a vast steam-heated bath installed and indoor flushing toilets.  All this, and more, was expounded by our two very enthusiastic and knowledgeable guides.  The day was rounded off, as all good visits should be, by tea, cake and much lively discussion.

See a further seven images in Gallery 5

* To find out more about the Lunar Society read Jenny Uglow’s excellent book The Lunar Men published by Faber and Faber: ISBN 978-0-571-26667-8