Subsequent discussion centred on ways of storing photographs ranging from CDs to the Cloud. Also the current changes from camera producers in the near future with the disappearance of some SLRs in preference to mirrorless cameras as well as some manufacturers (Panasonic and Canon) abandoning the pocket camera in the wake of increased sales of Smart Phones with improved camera capabilities.
It was suggested that another field trip be organised in September – the consensus being a trip to Winchester – date to be confirmed.
Pam and Mike Liberson were ‘volunteered’ to give a short presentation at the next indoor meeting of their (2) holidays in Egypt
Visit to Gold Hill Museum, Abbey Ruins and to enjoy Shaftesbury Fringe Festival
Once again, the AHA Group found itself in the position of having to cancel the above scheduled visit on Friday 22nd July.
Sadly, it seemed as though everything was against us! The weather was extreme for us Brits and we could not take any risks with some members who have health issues, in addition, two of group tested positive for Covid.
But we will not be defeated! There is no group visit for August, which has been our annual practise. We will be back for our September visit to Devizes, a tour of the Museum followed by a guided tour of the town. As per our normal procedure, we will be sending out details of this event.
Theresa Twitchell spoke, initially, about portraits she had taken recently of her grandchildren emphasising the need to vary the angle, shoot from below (and above) and be aware of the serendipity of ‘catching the moment’ illustrated by a capture of a furtive/cheeky look from the grand-daughter taken from above at just the right angle. Subsequent discussion prompted her to show some more photographs with some descriptions of how the photographs were taken – concluding with her favourite photograph of a rose, lightly sprayed with water using a black board as a background. This made the rose ‘pop’. It was interesting to view the varied preferences for the photographs that showed the differences in personal tastes!
On Friday 24th June we met our Blue Badge guide and old friend of the AHA Group, David Richards. He was in his usual good form for the planned visit to Stratford-sub-Castle.
We were there to learn about the roguish Pitt family and their connection with the old Rotten Borough of Old Sarum, which was only abolished by the Great Reform Act of 1832. He started by explaining the chequered history of Jack ‘Diamond’ Pitt who, after 3 very profitable periods working in colonial India both against and for the British East India Company, managed to acquire a huge uncut diamond. This very large diamond was sold to France to initially embellish Napoleon’s sword hilt. It was subsequently removed and placed in his coronation crown. The remains of the uncut diamond ended up in Russia as part of their crown jewels. At this time, Pitt turned his attention firstly to buying influence in the form of the Rotten Borough of Old Sarum and then to buying properties and farmland (a lot of it). Indeed, to this day, certain members of the Pitt Dynasty remain prominent landowners.
Diamond Pitt’s original elegant home, which he had built remains a sizeable property in Stratford-sub-Castle as do a few other old houses in the village. The village would remain (apart from post WW2 developments) largely recognisable to Pitt the Younger. The dynasty produced two prime ministers, both of whom relied upon the Rotten Borough system for their power and influence. During the walk around the village, we saw the site of the old Parliament tree under which at election times the few eligible electors would gather to bargain their votes, which usually went to the highest bidder. However, in the case of Old Sarum, Diamond Pitt had all the important votes in his grasp well in advance of any election.
Apparently, Pitt the Younger did not become Prime Minister in his twenties via talent alone. He knew how to fully exploit patronage to his personal advantage, being schooled in his corrupt ways by past generations of his family, who were extremely adept at the art. The old church was a delightful building, located close to glorious, thatched cottages and a few elegant houses which must have been built for wealthy families.
As usual, David was a complete master of his subject and was able to answer our many questions with humour and precise information. The tour lasted about two hours, by which time we were in need of some refreshments. Taking our leave from David, we journeyed to the next village Lower Woodford for lunch at the Wheatsheaf, thus concluding yet another very successful AHA outing.
Prepared by: Ron Bryan - AHA Organiser
Unfortunately wildlife was elusive. An early sighting of a low-flying Red Kite, the retreating rump of a Hare and the flushing of a Tawny Owl from its daytime roost in a shed were the highlights but there were plenty of opportunities to capture wildflowers, insects and the agricultural landscape on a very big farm.
Most attendees finished off the evening with a splendid meal at the Hare and Hounds on Charlton Down.
After a warm welcome by the head of Reception, members had a short period to enjoy a cup of tea/coffee at their on-site Café. We then went of a 45-minute guided tour of the gardens adjacent to the manor house. The tour guide, volunteer Rosemary, gave us a most informative narrative of the background to the development of the gardens and an introduction to the many American plants and trees displayed in it. The tour was briefly interrupted by a short rain shower but fortunately we could resume the tour soon afterwards. One small part of the garden incorporates a reduced size replica of the gardens at George Washington’s home Mount Vernon. There are also a number of head-and-shoulder sculptures of famous American persons as well as Sir Winston Churchill located along one of the pathways.
Members were then free to have lunch and start their own tours of the museum in the manor house as well as the special exhibit entitled ‘Dress to Redress’ – Exploring Native American Material Culture. The on-site Garden Café offered a wide variety of snacks, light meals and hot and cold drinks at very reasonable prices. This was well supported and appreciated by our group.
The museum turned out to offer a very wide selection of artefacts and displays covering the development of the United States from its very beginning. There was a very well-illustrated history of the evolution of the country from its very early colonial days. Displays also covered the two primary conflicts during those early years of the War of Independence and the Civil War. The conflicts and sometimes poor treatment of the Native American peoples was also covered with reasonable sensitivity.
There were several rooms in the manor house that have been laid out with authentic period displays using internal panelling brought from genuine American period homes as well as appropriate furniture so that one moves into the actual room environments that reflected various types of housing common to various parts of the States. There was also on display a selection of the museum’s huge collection of American quilts.
The general reaction of most members was that the museum offered a much more varied display of the history of the USA through artifacts and information than had been expected. It was infinitely more than a display of American quilts and stitch craft items as was thought to be its main focus. The visit therefore proved to be highly informative and very enjoyable.