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Programme of Trips 2024

For more information about all trips please e-mail

Visit to Bourne Mill (National Trust) and Green Island Gardens – Both near Colchester

Click HERE for detailed leaflet and organiser details.

Trip Date Thursday, 25th July – Now fully booked with a waiting list


Our Lady of Walsingham and Thursford Steam Museum in Norfolk including guided tour of Museum

***A few places still available***

Click HERE for detailed leaflet and organiser details.

Trip Date Wednesday, 12th June

Previous Trips

Trip to Finchingfield and Braxted Park

Wednesday May 8 2024

Finchingfield is a picture-book pretty village in Essex which I first visited in the 1960s on a Sunday afternoon drive with my father.

Before visiting the Guildhall museum we had a talk about the history of the Guildhall and the village. The Guildhall only became a museum in 2017. It is an amazing museum for such a small village with technology bringing the past to life. I am sure it must be as popular with children as it was with us. We were given an interesting tour of the village, learning not only about old buildings but current problems.

After lunch in Finchingfield we travelled on to Braxted Park, Great Braxted, Essex.

This Queen Anne style house was built in 1680 and modified over the years. We were served tea and cakes before being introduced to our guide, the present owner, Duncan Clark. He was an interesting and entertaining speaker who dwelt more on the difficulties involved with the upkeep of such an estate than its history. Even he did not know the origin of some things on his estate, such as a building near the lake which may have had connections to the Masons.

Two very different places and both so very interesting. Thank you Pat for organising it.

Barbara Smith

Trip to Time and Tide Museum – Great Yarmouth

Thursday 9th November 2023 – Read u3a member Barbara Smith’s review here

Trip to Ely Cathedral and Oliver Cromwell House – 

Wednesday, 11th October 2023 – Read u3a member Barbara Smith’s full review here

Ely Cathedral has its origins in AD672 when St. Etheldreda built Ely Abbey.  The present building dates back to 1083 and it was granted cathedral status in 1109.  Architecturally it is outstanding both for its scale and stylistic details.  Having been built in a monumental Romanesque style, the galilee port, lady chapel and choir were rebuilt in an exuberant Decorated Gothic.  Its most notable feature is the central octagonal tower, with lantern above, which provides a unique internal space and along with the West Tower dominates the surrounding landscape.

  • We start with a 60 minute guided tour of the ground floor and then have free time to explore.
  • Our ticket includes entry into the beautiful Stained Glass Museum in the gallery home to a unique collection from the medieval to the modern.  It tells the history of stained glass through the ages, with examples from both secular and sacred buildings across the United Kingdom and Europe.


In the afternoon we have a guided tour of the house where Oliver Cromwell and his family lived from 1636-1647.  It is an attractive half-timbered building that once served as the vicarage for nearby St. Mary’s Church.  The house was built in the 13th century and portions of that first structure survive in the east wing of the current house.  The building served as a pub for several years aptly named “The Cromwell Arms” but is now refurbished in Stuart style.  It is now the only residence to survive other than Hampton Court Palace and also houses a Civil War Exhibition as well as the Tourist Information Centre.


Trip to Blickling Estate and a Trip on the Bure Valley Railway 

Wednesday, 6th September 2023

Blickling Estate Built on the foundations of the Tudor manor house supposed to be the birthplace of Anne Boleyn, the imposing Jacobean Blickling Hall was constructed by Sir Henry Hobart after a lucrative career as a London lawyer.

Passed down through the Hobart and Kerr families over 4 centuries, it contains many family portraits including works by Gainsborough and Reynolds and watercolours by Humphry Repton.  The hall is also richly furnished with a fine collection of tapestries.

It is the home of the National Trust’s largest and most magnificent library, the core of which was assembled by Sir Richard Ellys, a cousin of the Hobarts.  The interior features spectacular 17th century plasterwork by Edward Stanyon including the remarkable Long Gallery which is 123 feet in length.

The garden covers 55 acres and contains formal and informal gardens the result of three centuries of inspired planting.

The Bure Valley Railway is Norfolk’s longest Narrow Gauge Steam Railway and operates between Aylsham and Wroxham.  It was built on the track bed of part of the former Great Eastern Railway and the nine mile line runs through a stretch of lovely, rural Norfolk, following the River Bure through meadowland and ancient pastures, stopping occasionally at small country villages.

At Aylsham there is a café and a large souvenir and model railway shop.  The workshops are also based there and often open to the public.  At Wroxham there is a gift shop and a large second-hand book shop.











In the morning we visit the unusual Combined Military Services Museum created from the personal collection of Dr. Richard Wooldridge.  It tells the story of the British fighting force from the English Civil War to the present day.  The collection includes medals, uniforms, firearms, swords and one of the finest displays of Special Forces equipment.  Amongst the items is the only surviving Cockle Canoe from the famous Cockleshell Raid and clothing and equipment worn by SAS trouper Rusty Firmin who led the Blue Team on the storming of the Iranian Embassy.  It also houses an extensive Special Operations Executive exhibition, a home front collection and a fascinating spy exhibition.  Many items are of national importance and cannot be seen in any other museum.


The coach then takes us to the historic Hythe Quay at the top of the Blackwater River where we board sailing barge Hydrogen.  Built in 1906 she is the largest surviving wooden barge, a Coaster whose fine lines and sturdy construction are a great example of the shipwright’s craft. She was once part of the East Coast’s traditional fleet of cargo vessels. We have a private cruise past the Victorian Promenade Park, the National Trust’s bird reserve on Northey Island, Heybridge Basin and the entrance to the Chelmer and Blackwater Canal finishing at Osea Island with its colourful beach huts on stilts before returning to the Quay where we will have a cream tea.




In 1940 after their home in London was damaged in the blitz, Henry and Irina Moore moved to Perry Green in rural Hertfordshire. They were able to rent half of a former farmhouse, by the name of Hoglands, in the centre of the hamlet. At first they shared the house with another family but the sale of a 1939 Elmwood Reclining Figure for £300 soon allowed them to buy the whole house, including the gardens and outbuildings which became Moore’s studios. Henry and Irina remained here for the rest of their lives. He acquired more land, piece by piece and added more studios. Irina created a beautiful and vibrant garden – a perfect backdrop to her husband’s work. Hoglands was very much the centre of both family life and Henry Moore’s business.

In the morning we will have the chance to visit Hoglands and will have a 45 min guided tour of the historic farmhouse which is filled with the extraordinary collection of artworks Moore acquired during his life.

In the afternoon we will have a 90 min guided tour of the sculpture gardens and hear Henry Moore’s remarkable story, while surrounded by more than 20 of his iconic sculptures. The tour also takes in his fascinating studios, where the origins of his monumental bronzes can be seen in hundreds of small models that line the shelves. In 1980 he purchased the beautiful 16th century Aisled Barn which he had carefully reconstructed and is the only place in the world where you can see his remarkable tapestries.



Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker, Friday 4th November 2022

This outing takes us to Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker where the temperature is cool all the year round and afterwards, we can warm up in Cucino Italiana with a nice lunch.  What better way to spend winters day!


Kelvedon Nuclear Bunker

Take a “virtual” walk around Kelvedon Hatch Secret Bunker with owner Mike Parrish and discover the complex installation that is hidden underground. Come and witness the three lives of the bunker:

  • starting with its role as an RAAF ROTOR Station
  • then a brief period as a Civil Defence Centre and
  • through to its most recent life as a Regional Government HQDesigned for up to 600 military and civilian personnel, possibly even the Prime Minister, their collective task being to organise the survival of the population in the awful aftermath of a nuclear war.

Your tour of the bunker is self-guided by personal handsets so you can go at your own pace.
At the end there is a small “canteen” and gift shop.

After the tour we go onto to have lunch at Cucino Italiana:

Cucino Italiana will be offering us a special senior lunch menu priced at £10.95 for one course, £15.95 for two courses and £19.95 for three courses.


Peckover House and Peterborough Cathedral September 2022

Peckover House is a secret gem, an oasis hidden away in an urban environment. A classic Georgian merchant’s town house, it was lived in by the Peckover banking family for 150 years. The Peckovers were staunch Quakers which meant they had a very simple lifestyle – yet at the same time they ran a successful private bank. Both facets of their life can be seen as you wander through the house and gardens.

Peterborough Abbey, which became a Cathedral in 1541, has been the centre of national and international events for over 900 years. It has been an influential medieval monastery and a royal burial place, survived major damage during the Civil War and enjoyed a period of restoration and rediscovery of its Anglo-Saxon origins in the 19th Century. The Highlights Tour will introduce you to these stories and more as you explore the building with a knowledgeable guide.


Please click here to read the review of this outing









Bletchley Park is an English country house and estate near Milton Keynes that became the principal centre of Allied code-breaking during the Second World War. The mansion was constructed during the years following 1882 for the financier and politician Sir Herbert Leon in the Victorian Gothic, Tudor, and Dutch Baroque styles, on the site of older building of the same name. During World War II the estate housed the Government Code and Cypher School which regularly penetrated the secret communications of the Axis Powers – most importantly the German Enigma and Lorenz ciphers. The nature of the work at Bletchley remained secret until many years after the war.

Our visit will start with a 1 hr guided outdoor walking tour which tells the story of  Bletchley Park using the landscape after which you may collect a free multimedia guide and step back in time to experience the stories of the extraordinary men and women who worked here through immersive films, interactive displays and exhibitions set within beautifully restored historic buildings and faithfully recreated WW2 rooms.

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