Excursion One - Marks Hall Gardens and Arboretum & Paycocke’s House
Set in 200 acres of historic landscape, the Marks Hall Gardens and Arboretum feature a tree collection from all the temperate regions of the world, with areas representing Europe, Asia, North America and the Southern Hemisphere. Highlights include the 18th-century walled garden with a combination of traditional and contemporary planting and the Millennium Walk.
We then head to the picturesque market town of Coggeshall, known for its many beautiful listed buildings. Here we visit Paycocke's House, an exquisitely carved half-timbered Tudor cloth merchant’s house built around 1500. The house is a testament to the wealth generated by the cloth trade in East Anglia in the 16th century and tells a fascinating story of its riches to rags decline and Edwardian restoration.
Excursion Two - Lavenham Guildhall & Melford Hall
Picturesque Lavenham is a remarkably well-preserved Tudor village which was one of the richest towns in England during the 15th century thanks to the woollen-cloth industry. Here we visit Lavenham Guildhall, a fine timber-framed building that is a potent reminder of Lavenham’s former prosperity. After an introductory talk and morning coffee, we discover the stories of the people who have used the Guidhall through the centuries.
We continue on to Melford Hall where we enjoy an introductory talk before our visit. During its history, this red-brick Tudor mansion with picturesque turrets has played host to Queen Elizabeth I, seen Civil War unrest and survived a disastrous fire in 1942. Home to the Hyde Parker family for more than two centuries, it remains their beloved family home to this day and contains fine collections of art, porcelain and furniture.
Excursion Three - Flatford Constable Walking Tour & Dedham
We join the coach to take us to the quiet hamlet of Flatford, from where we enjoy a walking tour of approximately one hour. Led by an experienced National Trust guide, we visit the key views and locations which inspired many of Constable’s iconic paintings.
After our walk, we rejoin the coach and travel through Dedham Vale, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty immortalised in Constable’s paintings, stopping in the idyllic village of Dedham, where we have time to explore at leisure. Set on the River Stour with scenic water meadows, the village is the epitome of rural England with an attractive main street lined with Georgian-fronted houses, old inns and a large arts and crafts centre.