The Arts Society Oxford – VISITS PROGRAMME 2019

Monday 21 January: Strawberry Hill coach trip to see ‘The Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill’ exhibition and enjoy a private tour of the nearby Ham House.  

The trip starts with a visit to Ham House.  This rare and atmospheric 17th Century home on the River Thames is a National Trust property.  We view the grand rooms and artworks of the Dysart Family and then see what life was like in the servants’ quarters below stairs.  We then travel the short distance to Strawberry Hill where you can enjoy an optional lunch at Walpole’s Gothic masterpiece and see the ‘Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill’ exhibition.  This exhibition brings back to Strawberry Hill 150 of the most important masterpieces in Horace Walpole’s famous and unique collection for a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition.  4,000 items were dispersed in a great sale in 1842. For the first time in over 170 years, Strawberry Hill can be seen as Walpole conceived it, with the masterpieces in the interiors as he designed it and shown in their original positions.” COST £32 (NT members), £44 (non-NT members), including all costs except the optional lunch.

Monday 11 and Wednesday 20 February: Relax away from the cold February weather and have a delicious Afternoon Tea (Coffee/Tea, scones, sandwiches and cake) at University College with Alastair Lack.

Before tea, join Alastair, blue badge guide, and see the extraordinary Shelley Memorial, the magnificent stained glass in the chapel and the fine portraits in the dining hall (including one by Graham Sutherland).  Founded by William of Durham who died in 1249, University is the oldest college in Oxford or Cambridge. COST £14, including afternoon tea.

12, 20, 26 March and 11 April: Four Afternoon Walking Tours with Alastair Lack, to visit Three Oxford Chapels (Pusey House, Worcester and Nuffield).  

Oxford abounds in celebrated chapels but this visit takes in three less well-known chapels at Pusey House, Worcester and Nuffield.  Pusey House in St Giles was founded in 1884 in memory of Edward Pusey, a founding father of the Oxford Movement.  The chapel was designed in late Gothic style by Temple Moore and features an east window and altar with canopy by Sir Ninian Comper.  Worcester chapel remains an outstanding example of the work of William Burges, featuring luxurious architecture and decoration, with elaborate floor mosaics, rich ceiling patterns and an altar window by Henry Holiday.  The third chapel at Nuffield is charming and intimate and owes a great deal to the artist and designer, John Piper, who designed the windows.  COST £6

Friday 5 April: Make your way to London to visit The Ruskin Exhibition at Two Temple Place and the nearby Sir John Soane’s Museum. 

We meet at 11:00 at Two Temple Place when our tour of the Ruskin exhibition, ‘The power of seeing’ begins. To mark the bicentenary of his birth, a new exhibition celebrates the legacy and enduring relevance of Ruskin’s ideas and vision. The exhibition brings together over 190 paintings, drawings, daguerreotypes, metal work, and plaster casts to illustrate how Ruskin’s attitude to aesthetic beauty shaped his radical views on culture and society. After a break for lunch we enjoy a guided highlights tour of the Sir John Soane’s Museum.  This historic house, of the distinguished architect Sir John Soane, has been left untouched since his death – 180 years ago. He built the Bank of England and Dulwich Picture Gallery, as well as his own extraordinary home by buying, demolishing and rebuilding three houses in Lincoln’s Inn Fields to house his wonderful eclectic collection. COST £8.50, but excludes transport and the optional lunch.

Monday 6 May (which is a bank holiday): Make your way London to visit The Wallace Collection and enjoy a Lunchtime Concert at Wigmore Hall. 

We will meet for coffee at The Wallace Collection and have a guided highlights tour of the artworks and building.  Built over the 18th and 19th centuries by the Marquis of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace it is one of the finest and most celebrated collections of paintings, sculpture, furniture, armour and porcelain in the world.  The whole collection was given to the nation in 1897.  We then walk the short distance to Wigmore Hall where we attend a lovely lunchtime concert by the internationally renowned King’s Singers – the masters of a cappella singing.  They will take us through “An Unconventional Journey from Moscow to London in one hour”.  The Hall was built in 1901 by the German piano firm Bechstein and achieves its intended aim to be grandly impressive while remaining intimate enough for recitals.  We have arranged an optional lunch after the concert in Wigmore Hall’s elegant restaurant before returning to Oxford.  COST £24 to include Wallace tour and concert ticket, but excludes transport, coffee and lunch (£15.95, 2 courses/£20.95, 3 courses).

19-23 May: Trip to Budapest.  This trip is going ahead as planned – 22 have booked and Sarah Whiteley will lead it.

Monday 17 June: Coach trip to Boughton House, ‘The English Versailles’. 

Boughton House is rarely open to the public and this will be a private tour, exclusively for TASO.  It is a fully inclusive day with coffee on arrival, a guided tour of the house* before a delicious buffet lunch and an afternoon tour of the gardens. Discover one of Britain’s grandest and best-preserved stately homes, with its outstanding collections of fine art, furniture, tapestries, porcelain and carpets.  Here you can walk through grand apartments of contrasting character decorated in extravagant yet elegant taste. Paintings adorn the walls, including The Adoration of the Shepherds by El Greco, Gainsborough’s portrait of Mary Montagu, grisailles and portraits by Van Dyck and Breaking Cover by John Wootton.  Once you’ve had a tour of the House and lunch, you can step out into the surrounding country park. Its tranquil delights have been carefully restored over the last decade.  There are wide sculptured lawns to survey, serene lakes, waterways, woods and avenues of trees to be enjoyed.  COST: £53 fully inclusive, except wine with lunch.

Wednesday 17 July: Coach trip to Wilton House 

Wilton House is one of the premier examples of Palladian architecture – re-built in 1647 by Inigo Jones and John Webb. It is renowned for its 17th Century State apartments, the 19th century cloisters and the gardens with its famous Palladian Bridge.  Included is coffee on arrival and a 90-minute guided tour of the house, which has an impressive number of portraits by Van Dyck and paintings by Lely, Rembrandt and Brueghel the younger.  There is plenty of time for lunch and a stroll round the wonderful grounds in the afternoon. COST: £39.50 includes transport, tour and coffee but excludes the optional lunch.

Want to know more?  Come and talk to us at the visits desk in reception before lectures.  You can book for current visits and tell us your ideas for future trips.  You can also email us for further information at  We hope and will come and enjoy at least one of these events in 2019.

*The Duke of Buccleuch, who owns Boughton House, has kindly offered to donate our entry fees to an arts charity, Keiskamma Art Project based in Eastern Cape, South Africa. It is a collaborative community-owned art outlet and workshop that enjoys the participation of over 100 local artists and crafters in the Keiskamma, Hamburg area.  It is well known for its tapestries, one of which hangs in Boughton House.