Heritage Open Days this week end, recommend Royal Holloway College

Today, we toured parts of Royal Holloway college in Egham. We splendidly lunched in the famous Picture Gallery, surrounded by the paintings collected by the founder of the college, Thomas Holloway, in incredibly short space of time, between 1881 and 1883.

We visited the Chapel, the Boardroom, Dinning Room, Picture Gallery, and the two quadrangles. You too can do the same, this weekend Royal Holloway College is open for the Heritage Open Days. One of the pictures in the picture gallery was my Painting of the Week 5: The Railway Station by William Powell Frith. I hope my brief photo montage might convince you it’s a worthwhile visit this Sunday.


The Terri Jayne School of Dance studios opened by Surrey Heath’s Mayor

Yesterday the Mayor of Surrey Heath – Cllr Bob Paton, performed the official opening of the new studios of the Terri Jayne School of Dance in Guildford Road, Lightwater. As the building was previously Lightwater’s Police Station, it was a nice touch to have Sgt Melanie Sefton, of Surrey Heath Neighbourhood Policing team, join the Mayor in the opening celebrations.

Unquestionably the new home of the Dance School is a superb facility, with two large air conditioned studios and associated facilities. It’s location offers safe drop off and pick-up for students. It’s also on the 34 and 35 bus routes. I think it’s a major addition to the village. For years I’ve been amazed at the popularity of youth dance in the borough, and the number of dance schools. This year the Terri Jayne School performed for three nights at Camberley Theatre, where the cast totalled 275. That’s what I call popularity.

Anyway, I took lots of photos of the official opening, and have combined some of them along with my [amateurish] video of the opening.

Birmingham’s magnificent renovated neoclassical Town Hall

I wrote earlier this week about visiting the new Library of Birmingham building. On our way to it from Birmingham’s New Street station we passed through Victoria Square to stop by magnificent neoclassical Town Hall, to see how it’s been renovated.

Subject to a £35 million restoration, it now befits the city centre. For many years it was blackened by soot, and not well maintained. I remember, in the 1960’s, being with my brother listening, among a packed audience, to a speech on the economy by Enoch Powell. It’s a venue that seems to add status and grandeur to what occurs inside. It’s surely the classical architecture, with its Corinthian columns, that gives it the aura of a Forum, and also its history.

We peeked inside, prior to a children’s event, but were still able to see the benefits of the restoration.

Biddulph Grange Garden, a splendid surviving Victorian garden

We recently visited Biddulph Grange Garden near Stoke-on-Trent. Saved from dereliction by the National Trust in 1988, and subject to many years of restoration, the gardens are a magnificent survival of the great age of Victorian gardening.

Biddulph Grange was developed by James Bateman (1811–1897). Bateman was the son of a wealthy coal and steel industrialist. From a young age Bateman was fascinated by plants, particularly orchids which were a lifetime passion. His wife Maria was also a passionate horticulturist.

Plant hunting and collecting was all the rage in the middle to late 1800’s. The Bateman’s were no different to other wealthy Victorian plant collectors. Their garden was created over 20 years from 1842, with a variety of individual gardens, each with their own microclimates, enabling exotic plants to flourish. Biddulph Grange Gardens featured as one of the gardens in the 2014 BBC TV series British Gardens in Time.

The history of the Grange and Gardens is described by the National Trust HERE. Meanwhile here’s a selection of photo we took of the Gardens.