Spring Antiques Holiday

March 23rd - 28th  2014 



*  Holker Hall - Private tour of Holker Hall before its opening to the public. This largely Victorian house by local architects Paley and Austin is the home of Lord Cavendish and his family. Our visit
encompasses not only the house with its distinctive 19th. Century interior, including books from the Library at Chatsworth brought here after the fire of 1871, and in addition paintings showing the towns of Whitehaven and Lowther along with “Old Masters” such as a Van Dyck self-portrait.   Lunch in the Burlington Room is included.

*  Blackwell, the epitome of an Arts and Crafts house.
Built by Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott, one of the most innovative of the architects of the period, the house now contains additional furniture including ceramics, textiles and silver which originally furnished Barn Close, an Arts and Crafts house in Carlisle. Time to visit the house and to see the current exhibition of Moorcroft Pottery and the excellent craft shop and display of books relating to the Arts and Crafts Movement.

*  Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott. Talk by Beth Hughes, Curator of Blackwell, on the Scottish architect of Blackwell whose work is unique in the Arts and Crafts Movement as well as being comparatively little known.

* Beatrix Potter, Image and Reality
with Graham Kilner, an expert on the subject associated with the Armitt Museum. His talk is particularly apposite as this the title of the current exhibition at the Armitt. Miss Potter was one of an indomitable breed of Victorian women who fought against the prejudices of her time to achieve a world-wide fame, and did a lot more in her life than just write her famous Children’s books.

* Armitt Museum  - Afternoon visit to the exhibition “Beatrix Potter, Image and Reality” in Ambleside.

*  The Courtauld Family:  Silver and Silk  - A look at the history of this well-known Huguenot family and their evolution from craftsmen to philanthropists. From their beginnings as refugees from France, they helped to revolutionize the look of English silver in the eighteenth century, until in the twentieth century they changed the textile industry and finally ended up endowing the
world-famous Courtauld Institute.

*  Leighton Hall, Carnforth
- owned by descendants of the famous Lancaster furniture-making family, Gillows, this interesting building houses a very varied collection of fine antiques. The Gothic façade conceals an earlier house in the Palladian manner and much Gillow furniture,
particularly in the dining room as well as a beautiful cabinet possibly by André Charles Boulle.

*  Pottery studio  -  Visit to village of Holme and Rupert Belfrage to see a demonstration of his craft and see his work.  Rupert is a highly regarded and original craftsman, whose imaginative work reflects his wide ranging career including the fashion trade.

* The Marking of the Quiz

A diverse range of subjects which, allied with the comforts of the Rothay Manor, will ensure a thoroughly rewarding and stimulating break.

The Host

Nicholas Merchant's career has mirrored his abiding interest in antiques, and embraces architecture, particularly country houses, their Collections and Gardens. Through his work at Sothebys and Phillips, Auctioneers in London and Leeds, he has acquired a wide general knowledge of Antiques.

He is a member of the Furniture History Society, the National Trust, and the Chippendale Society. In addition to conducting travel groups, he is an accredited lecturer with the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts, and has lectured extensively including at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He divides his time between lecturing, valuation work, and his book business specialising in Reference Works on Decorative and Fine Arts. Notes will accompany each talk, and Nicholas will be present and available throughout the course. Items for discussion are welcomed from course members.


The 5-night holiday
runs from Sunday evening through to Friday morning, and the price is per person and includes full English breakfast, morning coffee, 3 course dinner and VAT @ 20% for the 5 night stay.


Non-participating partners are welcome, and the cost for them is £50 less than above.


We ask for a deposit of £150 per person for the 5-night holiday, which can be made by cheque or credit card. This is non-refundable unless the room is subsequently relet, and cancellation insurance is available.




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