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Heritage Group 2009
Programme of Outings  Report on last Visit Heritage Group Archive
Heritage Group
Visits are arranged by our small Committee to places of historical, cultural and general interest, travelling by coach or, when practical, by local public transport.

All members of High Lane U3A are very welcome on our trips and full details of these are available on our 'table' at the general monthly meetings (held on the second Wednesday of each month).  Brief details will also appear in the Newsletter and on this webpage.

Some of Last Year's Pictures
Lessons in the Workhouse! Ireland 2008 At the Anderton Boat Lift

Programme of Outings -2009

Report on the visit:
On 2nd March, 24 members went on a tour of Stockport Town Hall.  Before we started our tour, we were taken for coffee in one of the committee rooms by Cheryl, our guide for the day.
The tour began at the original front entrance that leads to the magnificent Italian Marble Staircase and entrance hall.  She told us that the Town Hall was designed by Alfred Thomas Brumwell, who also designed Woolwich Town Hall and the City Hall in Belfast.  Stockport Town Hall took 4 years to build and was opened on 7th July 1908 by the Prince and Princess of Wales (later to become George V and Queen Mary).  Part of Heaton Lane was renamed Prince’s Street in honour of the occasion.  The Town Hall is very much a working place and is also well used for all manner of functions, thus earning money for the Borough.  The marble on the staircase had to be replaced in 1966, but the rest of the marble in the hall is in very good condition.  At the top of the stairs is a gallery with photographs of past mayors. The mayor’s office and dining room (which we did not see) are off this gallery.  We were taken into three oak panelled committee rooms that have dividing partitions which can be folded back thus making one large meeting room.
The Council Chamber was our next stop, in this room there are four semi circular stained glass windows depicting the Charter of Freedom, the Coat of Arms of the Borough, the Sovereign, and the Prince of Wales. The oak benches are decorated with carvings representing honour, liberty, justice, truth, and wisdom, and the seating is upholstered in green leather.  Full council meetings are held in this room, it is also used for performing wedding ceremonies.  The collection of civic silver lines the walls of the corridor just outside the chamber.  There were items of mayoral regalia on show including the Mace which is made of gold plated nickel and measures 4ft.2in. in length.  Unfortunately, the Mayor’s chain of office, which is solid gold, was not on show, but we were told that it was presented to the Borough in 1872 and at that time it was valued at £225.
Onward we went to committee room 213, which was designated as the ladies rest room in 1920 and has its own facilities (almost en suite), it is now used by brides at weddings, some of the furnishings are of the art deco period.
After the tour we enjoyed an hour of music played on the Wurlitzer Organ by Byron Jones, this organ was one of fourteen in the world designed by Jesse Crawford in America.  The organ came to the Town Hall in 1977 from the Free Trade Hall in Manchester and before that from a cinema.  It is now owned by the Lancastrian Theatre Organ Trust.  Lunch time organ concerts have been held monthly in the magnificent ballroom since 1999 and are very well attended.  After the concert we were given information into the workings of this wonderful instrument by a gentleman from the Trust.
Some of the group were then taken to the staff restaurant where we enjoyed a well earned lunch at a very reasonable price before making our way home.


Renishaw HallReport on the Visit:
Travelling through the lanes of Derbyshire is always a pleasurable experience even when the sky is grey and the rain clouds are gathering.  However on our arrival at Renishaw Hall we were greeted by a cheery guide and an invitation to sample the coffee and biscuits which were prepared for us in the Gallery Cafe.
At 11.15 (be prompt) we gathered at the front of the Hall.  Renishaw Hall has been the home of the Sitwell family for nearly 400 years, and, in recent decades has become famous through the writings of Edith, Osbert and Sacheverel, the gifted children of the eccentric Sir George and Lady Ida Sitwell.
The youngest of the trio Sachie, was the only one of his generation to marry and Renishaw passed to his elder son, Sir Reresby Sitwell and on his death (earlier this year) to his daughter, Alexandra (born 1958).
The published guide tells us that “the Ancient building straddles the crest of a hill, the drives wind up through parkland past gaunt old trees that stand sentinel around the front entrance.  Grey and machicolated, this grim northern facade is of immense length and decidedly Gothic character, concealing the narrow width of the house and the beautiful Italianate gardens beyond.  There are terraced lawns, clipped hedges and pyramids, statues and fountains on the southern aspect of this great house.”
On entering the Hall we found a much loved home!
Family portraits from earlier times to the present day adorned the walls of every room.  As each generation took guardianship of the Hall exquisite furniture, carpets, collections of silver, porcelain and objects of great beauty adorned every surface.  Books, old and new, lined the walls of the library; modern magazines, collections of cds’; cushions recently embroidered by Lady Penelope Sitwell all gave the feeling that the family had only recently left the room.  An assortment of hats were still hanging outside the kitchen door waiting to be collected. 
The time we spend in the hall was little enough to appreciate all the treasures which the Sitwell family had collected over the years.
The visit to Renishaw Hall and gardens was a treat indeed and well worth repeating.
Shirley Harrison




We are arranging a visit to the Macclesfield Heritage Centre Museum, the Silk Museum and Paradise Mill (where we will have a guided tour), dealing with the silk industry from its beginnings to the present day. This visit will tie in with the talk we shall be having at the August Meeting entitled  'The Story of Silk in Macclesfield and Como'
Participants are to make their own way to Macclesfield. The cost of entry to the 3 museums is £7.75. Further details can be found at the Heritage desk at the next monthly meeting (or from Margaret Snape).

Please note that a deposit of £5.00 per person per trip is required at the time of booking. (This is non-refundable unless it is necessary for the Heritage Group Committee to cancel the trip).

Heritage Group Committee

Group Leaders:  Margaret Snape & June Gibbs

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