Discovering Wales and the Welsh Marches


May 17 – 26 and May 27 – June 5, 2019


The rugged and remote landscapes of Wales and the Welsh Marches have cultivated an ancient regional identity and rich culture. The Celtic population has long resisted assimilation, and the plethora of ruinous castles and fortified manor houses speaks to the historical unrest of the area. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, a new building and collecting boom enriched the cultural landscape, bringing treasures from around the British Empire to the grand houses supported by Welsh coal and other commercial pursuits, including ceramics. Splendid architecture and collections abound in the neighboring English counties of Herefordshire and Shropshire. Our Study Trip Abroad captures the diversity of these sites, encompassing more than two millennia of history.


ITINERARY  (subject to amendment)

May 17 and May 27

We gather at the Cardiff’s Park Plaza Hotel and begin with an exploration of the Welsh capital, which remained a sleepy port until 1830s. At Cardiff Castle, we reach back to the city’s Roman and Medieval roots as well as its 19th-century renaissance. A walking tour introduces Cardiff’s signature sites, including the City Hall and Royal Arcade. We conclude with a curator-led tour at the National Museum, containing one of the finest collections in Europe, before an opening dinner at the Plaza’s highly rated restaurant, Laguna.

D included
Overnight: CARDIFF

May 18 and May 28

Departing from Cardiff for the Welsh border, we travel through the Wye Valley to see the eye-catching ruins of Tintern Abbey, which inspired centuries of artists and poets, including Wordsworth’s namesake sonnet, and the nearby Raglan Castle, a picturesque attraction since the 1820s. The afternoon includes a tour and lunch at Abercamlais. The core of the house dates to the Middle Ages but received a Georgian remodel in the early 18th century. Still in family possession, we encounter prized family heirlooms as well as architectural relics from the surrounding countryside. We arrive at the grand country house hotel Llangoed Hall which, according to popular legend, may have served as the White Palace, the first home of the Welsh parliament.

B, L, D included

May 19 and May 29

Our morning starts with a visit to the Gothic Hereford Cathedral, home to the extraordinary 13th-century Mappa Mundi, one of the cathedral’s great treasures. We then visit Laskett Gardens, the property of Roy Strong, the former director of both the National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum. It is one of the UK’s largest formal gardens planted after World War II. We then enjoy lunch at a largely untouched early-18th-century house that has benefited under dutiful stewardship of an architectural historian and his family. The day’s schedule concludes with a special private visit to Oakly Park, a 1540s manor house updated in 1817 by the Clive family.

B, L included

May 20 and May 30

Heading north towards Snowdonia, we are joined by Dr. Shaun Evans, director of the Institute for the Study of Welsh Estates at Bangor University. We begin the day at Powis Castle. Originally a Welsh-built fortification, the castle was successively the family seat of the Baron Grey of Powis, Hamilton, and Clive families. Much of the exuberantly carved and paneled interiors date from the 17th century, while a priceless collection of early artifacts from the Indian subcontinent remain in the castle thanks to Robert Clive, the legendary Commander-in-Chief of 18th-century British India. Bryngwyn, our destination for lunch, has been owned by the Williams family for more than two centuries and is a time capsule of late-19th and early-20th-century life, as the house and its contents were mothballed from 1929 until 1989. We then arrive at Bodysgallen Hall, a largely 17th-century manor house that began life as a watchtower outpost for nearby Conway Castle and is now operated by the National Trust as a hotel.

B, L, D included

May 21 and May 31

Our first stop is Bodnant, an 1874 garden that was one of the first accepted by the National Trust on its own merits. We continue to Gwydir Castle with the guidance of Dr. Evans, a circa 1500 fortified manor house and the seat of the Wynn family, descendants of the Kings of Gwynned and a major Welsh political force of the Tudor and Stuart eras. Our tour will encompass the famous dining room, whose panels (purchased by William Randolph Hearst) were repatriated from the Metropolitan Museum of Art by the current owners. We also visit a privately owned 1710 house, which has remained in the same family for much of its history. We end the day at Bodrhyddan Hall, which contains an eclectic mix of 17th-century architecture, Victorian additions, Continental fine art, and treasures from around the English empire.

B, L included

May 22 and June 1

Our day begins with a special visit with Dr. Evans to the Bangor University Archives and Special Collections to view holdings relating to houses and estates on this tour. Crossing the Menai Bridge to Anglesey, we arrive at Plas Newydd, one of the gems of the National Trust that exhibits the early-19th-century “cult of styles,” combining Neoclassical lines with picturesque Gothic paneling. Much of the collection hearkens to the house’s last inhabitants during the 1930s. Our third outing brings us to Mostyn Hall. Only opened to the public in 2014, the property has remained in the same family since the Mostyn Baronetcy was created in 1660, but the family’s initial occupation dates to two centuries prior.

B, D included

May 23 and June 2

Returning across the English border, we tour Erddig, one of Britain’s finest stately homes, containing treasures from three centuries of ownership by the Yorke family. After lunch at the breathtaking and privately owned Combermere Abbey, lovingly restored by the current owners, we also visit Wollerton Old Hall Garden, laid out on the grounds of a 16th-century manor house. Our accommodations for the rest of the tour are found at the exclusive Weston Park, the seat of the Earls of Bradford since the 17th century. Our expert guide for the day is Gareth Williams, curator of the house and estate.

B, L, D included
Overnight: WESTON PARK

May 24 and June 3

Our day begins at Weston Park with an in-depth tour with Mr. Williams of the collection, including the rare opportunity for an object handling session. We venture into Staffordshire to the impressive Wedgwood Museum. As early as 1774, Josiah Wedgwood began preserving samples of all his company’s works, which remain at the museum today. Recent financial difficulties threatened the institution, but a vast fundraising effort allowed the Victoria and Albert Museum to purchase the collection to be kept on loan in Stoke-on-Trent. We delve into the Tudor era at Little Moreton Hall, a striking timber-framed dwelling replete with patterned brickwork and glazing. Our day concludes with dinner at a private residence that was redesigned by Sir John Soane in the 1780s.

B, L, D included
Overnight: WESTON PARK

May 25 and June 4

The Welsh Marches played a seminal role in the Industrial Revolution following the introduction of a new smelting process for iron ore. Visits to the Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron and nearby Coalport China Museum underscore this prominence, after which we detour to the River Severn to see the world’s first major iron bridge, a late-18th-century feat. We continue to the original home of the eponymous summer school of English country houses, Attingham Park. The 1785 house boasts a spectacular 1805 picture gallery designed by John Nash and features many original Regency furnishings and decorative arts acquired by the 2nd Lord Berwick. At a nearby Italianate villa by Nash, the first of its kind in England, we explore an excellent collection of Old Masters and enjoy lunch in the family dining room. A teatime stop at Willey Park permits an opportunity to view architect Lewis Wyatt’s masterpiece. Rarely open to visitors, the house remains in the original family with exceptional holdings inspired by the Prince Regent’s Carlton House. We return to Weston Park to celebrate this extraordinary trip at our concluding dinner.

B, L, D included
Overnight: WESTON PARK

May 26 and June 5

Departures from Manchester.

B included

Terms and Conditions

Land Arrangement Cost:
$6,950 per person, based on double occupancy for 9 nights.

Transatlantic airfare is not included. Please do not make your airline reservations until you have received written confirmation of your registration from the Trust.

A deposit of $1,500 per person is required by September 1, 2018. Reservations and deposits are taken on an as received basis. You will receive a written confirmation from the Decorative Arts Trust. Do not make any irrevocable airline reservations until you receive your verification. Please make checks payable to “The Decorative Arts Trust” and mail to 20 South Olive Street, Suite 204, Media, PA 19063.

Single Supplement:
The single supplement is $800, to be paid with the final balance.

Final Payment:
Will be due by February 15, 2019. Invoices for final payment will be mailed in mid-January.

Membership at the Sponsor level is required for participation in Study Trips Abroad. Your membership contribution is fully tax deductible. If an increase in your membership level is necessary, the Trust will invoice you for the appropriate level upgrade with your final payment.

A donation to the Decorative Arts Trust of $500 per person is required for Study Trips Abroad. This gift is fully tax deductible and helps support the Trust’s mission and programs.

The schedule outlined in this itinerary is contracted for at this time but subject to change as necessary. A suggested reading list will be sent to you.

Each trip is limited to a maximum of 25 members and requires a minimum of 15. The trip will be canceled if under-subscribed, and deposits will be refunded. We will organize and maintain waiting lists on the basis of the time registrations are received. This is a strenuous trip. We regret that we cannot be responsible for those needing assistance on this trip. By registering, you are certifying that you do not have any mental, physical, or other condition of disability that would create a hazard for yourself or other passengers. The Trust reserves the right to decline anyone as a participant in this Study Trip Abroad should the person’s health, actions, or general deportment impede the operation of the Study Trip Abroad; the rights, welfare, or enjoyment of others; or the standing of the Decorative Arts Trust. A valid United States passport is required for this itinerary.

Included in Trip Cost:
Hotel accommodations in 4- and 5-star hotels, 9 breakfasts, 7 lunches, and 7 dinners, private coach transportation, local guides, admission in museums, historic houses, and gardens, gratuities for professional guides and coach drivers, and porterage.

Not Included in the Trip Cost:
Airfare, airport transfers other than specified above, alcoholic beverages other than when provided, personal expenses, and trip insurance are not included.

Cancellation and Refund:
If you must cancel your reservation, you are urged to do so as soon as possible in writing to The Decorative Arts Trust. All Cancellations are subject to a $250 administrative fee. Deposits are non-refundable after September 1, 2018. Cancellations arriving by March 4, 2019, will receive a 50% refund. Cancellations arriving by April 14, 2019, will receive a 25% refund. There will be no refunds for cancellations received after April 14, 2019.


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