SPRING REUNION AND 35th ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
PROGRAMME OF EVENTS
FRIDAY 12 MAY 2023Continue reading
… to be held at the East India Club, 16 St James’s Square, St James’s London SW1Y 4LH. Further details will be available soon. Here’s the menu:Continue reading
Members of the British chapter were delighted to be able to hold their annual reunion and AGM in person this year now that the constraints of the pandemic have been lifted. We met in Portsmouth on a beautiful weekend in late May, and spent a fascinating day exploring the docks including the Victory and the Mary Rose. Our after dinner speaker was Alex Hildred, the Head of Research and Curator of Ordnance at the Mary Rose Museum who gave a fascinating talk on the raising of the Mary Rose and other highlights of her 40 year career with the Mary Rose Museum and also the Trust.
We were pleased to welcome Tim Cullen from the Isle of Man, who has proposed some excellent ideas for next year’s reunion in the Isle of Man. There are so many great options that we are looking into offering a longer event than usual; all 1818 members are warmly welcome, so make a note in your diaries for May 2023 and watch this space for details.
Fifty-three members and guests attended our reunion weekend. We stayed at The Lincoln Hotel, located in Lincoln’s historic Cathedral Quarter, boasting stunning views of Lincoln Cathedral and its grounds and within easy walking distance of Lincoln’s key attractions and, ideally placed for guests wanting to explore the medieval city.
On Friday afternoon we enjoyed a guided tour of the magnificent Lincoln Cathedral where we witnessed the famous Lincoln Imp – the little devil perched high in the Angel Choir overlooking St Hugh’s shrine. According to legend, he was turned to stone by the angels because he caused mayhem in the Cathedral.
On Saturday we took a leisurely coach tour with our Guide, through the Lincolnshire Wolds en route to Alford Manor House, built in 1611 and reputed to be the largest thatched manor house in England. The visit included guided tours of the Grade II house, the Gardens which were redesigned after archaeological research, and the Museum of Rural Life. We returned to Lincoln via Somersby where Alfred Lord Tennyson (poet laureate) lived from his birth in 1809 until he moved to London aged 28, which included a visited to 15th Century St. Margaret’s Church, where his father was once rector. A drinks reception in the evening was followed by dinner with our Guide, Arthur Hazeldine, as Guest Speaker who entertained us with a talk entitled “The Great Yellow-Bellies”.
On each evening members and guests gathered to enjoy a drinks reception followed by dinner.
The British Chapter’s 31st Annual General Meeting took place on Sunday morning.
Fifty-eight members and guests attended the Spring Reunion in Cambridge staying at the Cambridge Belfrey Hotel, Cambourne on the outskirts of Cambridge.On Friday afternoon we enjoyed a guided tour of the beautiful Cambridge University Botanic Garden founded in 1831 by Charles Darwin’s mentor, Professor John Stevens Henslow, and home to a collection of over 8000 plant species from across the world. Saturday included coach to The National Stud, home of British horseracing, on the outskirts of Newmarket, for a memorable guided tour where we enjoyed meeting. This was followed by a visit to Wimpole Hall and Home Farm in the afternoon; a glorious National Trust property and former home of the daughter of Rudyard Kipling. In the evening we enjoyed an excellent and entertaining speech by the Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees, former Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.
The British Chapter’s 30th Annual General Meeting was held on Sunday morning in the Peterhouse Room of the Cambridge Belfry Hotel.
This was a splendid reunion! Great company, activities, hotel, and weather! Amazingly, we barely saw a cloud the entire weekend. But most importantly, it was a chance to meet with former colleagues and long-time friends. Despite the prophets of doom, on Friday 13th May, some 70 plus members of the British Chapter of the 1818 Society and their friends met in Winchester, the ‘City of Kings’ and the Saxon capital of England. Members travelled from around the UK, the Isle of Man, and also Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the USA. We stayed in the Hotel Mercure Wessex, centrally located in the grounds of Winchester’s historic Cathedral.
The first day, members enjoyed walking tours of the centre of town – including the Great Hall where King Arthur’s ‘legendary’ table hangs, the famous Winchester Cathedral grounds, the historic medieval city gates, Winchester City Mill, St Swithun’s (England’s smallest church) and Winchester College, which has been educating boys continuously since around 1382! Other members enjoyed Evensong in the Cathedral with its magnificent male choir. Listening to the choir, one can only reflect on the lives of the young choristers who are scholarship ‘boarders’ in the Pilgrims School on the Cathedral grounds and are required to sing in six services a week. On Saturday, we ventured by bus and ferry across the Solent to the Isle of Wight where we visited Osborne House, the summer home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and their nine children. Of Osborne House, Queen Victoria said “It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot” and few would disagree.
Described as a cottage, the house is in fact considerably larger than the White House. After being donated to the nation by her son, Edward, after her death, the House served as a convalescent home until the early 2000’s and has only recently been restored to its original state and opened to the public. On entering the front hall, one faces a canon – placed there at the Queen’s behest. Victorian humour perhaps?
Then we passed by the enormous collection of paintings and sculptures acquired by the royal couple in their personal capacity, then on to the Queen’s bedroom (and bathroom), the side by side desks of the Queen and Prince Albert and the magnificently restored Durbar room with the amazingly beautiful carved wood panels by Bhai Ram Singh. Indian décor was all the rage at the time. All enjoyed the recently opened Swiss Cottage, ‘built’ by Prince Albert as the children’s play house (read substantial, detached 3 BR house with multiple reception rooms and grounds).Prince Albert wanted the children to know how to survive and so here they learned to cook and sew, entertain and even garden. Each child had its own vegetable patch and wheelbarrow and grew identical crops – under the ‘supervision of their gardener’ which they then sold to Prince Albert at market prices.
But for many, the highlight of Osborne House was the Queen’s private beach and especially, her bathing machine. Prince Albert believed sea water to be healthy and encouraged the Queen to bathe. Apparently on the first occasion, especially, her bathing machine. Prince Albert believed sea water to be healthy and encouraged the Queen to bathe. Apparently on the first occasion, the Queen was delighted by the refreshing waters but felt suffocated when she put her head under water! Unlike most bathing machines of the era which were horse drawn, the Queen’s machine was drawn into the water by a series of winches. Having been used as a chicken shed until recently, this too has now been restored.
In the evening, following welcome cocktails, we enjoyed a wonderful dinner followed by Sir Sebastian Anstruther’s talk on the trials and tribulations of the recently established South Downs National Park, on which Winchester borders.
Sir Sebastian is a committed organic farmer with an estate nearby of some 3000 acres. It would have been interesting to spend more time discussing the issues of sustainability versus local development with the peer. Sunday morning – your hard-working Board met early to review and plan the past and coming year. This was followed by a re-assuring presentation by John Gandolfo and his team from HQ on the WBG pension plan (Click here to see the powerpoint presentation)*. Following this, Nicki Marrian warmly welcomed Inder Sud, the new 1818 President who briefed members on developments at HQ and his thoughts and plans for the 1818 Society in the near future.
Eighty eight members and guests attended the reunion held in Dublin, including members from Britain, Ireland, the USA, the Netherlands, Germany and Finland. The reunion was held in Bewleys Hotel, Ballsbridge, a short distance from the city centre. The hotel, original parts of which formed the buildings of a former girls’ school, provided excellent facilities, food and service throughout the weekend.
On Friday afternoon three groups travelled in to Dublin for a guided walk of parts of Georgian Dublin. The guides, provided by Architecture Tours Ireland, provided detailed information about the development of the Georgian squares, focusing on Merrion Square. Unfortunately, the heavens opened so the tours were somewhat abbreviated.
On Saturday, in better weather, the three groups visited Trinity College Dublin for guided tours of the campus, led by post-graduate students. Detailed descriptions of the College buildings were combined with entertaining comments about past and recent developments. The tours were thoroughly enjoyed by all members.
A coach journey then took us south to Enniskerry and the Powerscourt Estate. A soup and sandwich lunch was provided by the Powerscourt Golf Club, a spectacularly beautiful course, though even the most avid golfers were astonished by the eye-watering cost of green fees, let alone membership.
The Powerscourt gardens lie a short walk from the golf club and members spent a leisurely couple of hours there, reputed to be one of the world’s top ten gardens.
A drive through the beautiful Wicklow mountains took us to Glendalough, the site of medieval monastic ruins, with an intact round tower, an iconic feature of many parts of Ireland. The towers were places of safety for the monks as the entry to the tower is many feet above the ground and accessible only by a long ladder. Once inside the tower, the ladder was hauled up leaving the monks safe.
Drinks receptions followed by dinner were arranged on both Friday and Saturday night. The Saturday dinner was held in the Prior Hall, a magnificent dining hall that was once the school assembly hall. Following dinner, the speaker was Professor Patrick Honohan, Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland who provided insights into past and future developments in the Irish economy.
On Sunday morning the British Chapter AGM was held followed by lunch. The reunion ended at 3.00 pm.
Some members arriving early or staying on after the reunion took the opportunity to explore parts of Dublin including the Guinness brewery and Temple Bar, these days more bar(s) than temple. Some took the commuter train that runs along the coast to both the north and south of the city. Others travelled further afield to see a bit more of Ireland.