• Saltram House
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Welcome to Britain Update, Today we'll look at the stately splendour of Saltram House, Devon, and there's a useful selection of travel news and notes which should prove helpful in your travel planning. Enjoy!

David Ross, Publisher


Saltram House
Plymouth, Devon, England

Saltram is located just three miles from the city of Plymouth, yet its location in 500 acres of parkland on the banks of the River Plym gives it a decided countryside air. There was a Tudor mansion on this spot, but the present exquisite mansion is almost entirely a product of the Georgian period.

The house was begun in 1743 by Sir John and Lady Catherine Parker. Their son, also named John, brought in Robert Adam in 1768, and Adam is responsible for the staterooms and the salon. Saltram represents one of the finest surviving works by the influential Adam, and some of his architectural drawings can be seen at the house.

There is extensive ornate plasterwork throughout the house, and a startling amount of original hand-painted Chinese wallpaper has survived.

The house maintains excellent collections of furniture, fine art, and china, as well as a number of portraits by Angelica Kauffman and Joshua Reynolds, a friend of the Parker family which owned the house. Less ostentatious but equally as impressive is the Great Kitchen, with its original 18th-century tools and furnishings.

There are formal 18th-century gardens surrounding the house, including follies, an orangery, and lovely old trees and flowering shrubs, as well as extensive landscaped parkland. There are also enjoyable wooded walks along the river.

In the grounds is the Chapel Art Gallery, a restored 19th-century chapel that now hosts regular art exhibitions during the summer months.

Saltram was Norland Park in the film adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility.


ENTRY: Fee charged. National Trust members free.
ACCESSIBILITY: The ground floor is largely accessible. No access to Dining Room, Great Kitchen or children’s activity rooms. Grounds largely accessible. Adapted WC in the courtyard.

Travel Tips and News

Historic Architecture
A new web site offers an introduction to understanding and exploring the historic buildings of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Looking at Buildings explores the architectural history, styles, traditions, buildings, materials and techniques of construction of Britain and Ireland. [Editors note: this web site is really something to savour. - a delightful smorgasbord of heritage architecture. Highly recommended]

Sudeley Castle Costume Exhibition
Historic Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, is celebrating its long association with British royalty in a new exhibition. The ‘Six Wives at Sudeley Castle Costume Exhibition’ features costumes associated with David Starkey’s television series ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’ and has specially commissioned mannequins displayed throughout the Castle apartments, depicting Henry and his wives. The exhibition is open from 29th March – 2nd November daily, 11am - 5pm

Opening Times: Castle, Church & Coffee Shop open daily 29th March - 2nd Nov, 11am-5pm. Gardens, Emma Dent Exhibition, Gift Shop, Plant Centre & Adventure Playground open daily 1st March -2nd Nov 10.30am-5.30pm Website:

25 Years of Rochester Dickens Festival
The city where Victorian novelist Charles Dickens lived and wrote will mark the 25th anniversary of its festival in his honour this summer. The Rochester Dickens Festival (May 29 – June 1), held annually in the historic Kent city 30 miles south-east of London, is being extended from three to four days, including parades of costumed characters daily, guided walks and talks.

Visitors will see folk from classic stories such as “Oliver Twist”, “David Copperfield” and “Pickwick Papers” come to life. The Charles Dickens Centre – which features the great man’s writing chalet – explains how he lived here in his childhood and returned for the last 13 years of his life. Many local buildings feature in his writings, and on the Kent marshes to the north is the church that inspired the opening scene in “Great Expectations”. St. James’s Church at Cooling has 13 infants’ gravestones known as Pip’s graves.

For further details contact Medway tourist information. Website:

National Trust Easter Trails
Children up and down the country are invited to join the National Trust Easter Trails this year. Over 130 properties will be joining in the Easter holiday fun by holding quiz trails, egg hunts and other egg-citing activities. Green and Black's, the makers of delicious organic chocolate, are providing over 135,000 chocolate prizes for youngsters to win. This is a great opportunity for both kids and their parents to get outdoors for spring and let off steam with a whole variety of Easter events including egg and spoon races, chocolate tasting and egg rolling. For a full list of events and opening details, visit the National Trust website

Mother's Day Meals at National Trust Properties
Still with the National Trust - Mothering Sunday meals and other events will be on the menu on 30 March at twenty of the Trust's spectacular houses and gardens in England. From Cornwall to Yorkshire, National Trust restaurants and tearooms will be offering a mouthwatering selection of three course and two course lunches or high tea, providing the ideal way to spoil mum on her special day. Some properties also include a walk around the garden to see the glories of early spring, and a little treat for mum like a gift or a posy of flowers. There are also workshops for children to make their own Mothering Sunday surprises.

River Thames Cycle Tours
Five-day cycle tours following the River Thames from south-west London to Oxford are being introduced this summer by Capital Sport. Tours start at Richmond-upon-Thames and guests travel independently at their own pace, with plenty of time for stops at such places as Kew Gardens, Hampton Court, Windsor Castle, and a series of riverside villages, locks and old inns. The tours are available weekly from April to October, and the cost of £750 per person ( £599 in April) includes hotel accommodation, bike rental, luggage transfers, route directions and unobtrusive help from the host.

An extended 10-day tour to the Cotswold Hills and Stratford-upon-Avon is also available at £1,450 per person ( £1,160 in April). Website:

Llangollen canal cruises
H & H Narrowboat Hotels are running four special cruises in 2003 featuring perhaps the most spectacular scenery on Britain’s Inland Waterways, the Llangollen Canal, a branch of the Shropshire Union network. Each journey into the past winds through the delightfully unspoilt countryside of Shropshire, crossing the border into Wales, and features the historic hill town of Llangollen.

Highlights of the cruises include the world-famous 1000 foot long Pontycysyllte Aqueduct at Trevor, the stone arched Chirk Aqueduct, the Shropshire Lake District around Ellesmere and three spooky tunnels. Two of cruises also feature the walled city of Chester; the others a side trip down the recently restored Montgomery Canal, a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) due to its rare plant life. Boats carry up to 8 passengers, on fully catered 7-night cruises.

The two Spring Llangollen Cruises start: Friday 9th May in Nantwich, Friday 16th May in Llangollen; the two Autumn breaks on Friday 10th October Nantwich and Friday 17th October Llangollen. The cruises cost from £72 per person per day, full board. Visit

That's all for now. Until next issue, let me remind you that laughter is contagious. Be a carrier.

David Ross, Publisher, Britain Express

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