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DiCamillo tour to houses of Yorkshire, 2018

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Castle Howard

Photo by Curt DiCamillo

Biographies of the Tour Leaders

Curt DiCamillo

Curt is an American architectural historian and a recognized authority on the British country house. He has written, lectured, and taught in the U.S. and abroad on British history and leads scholarly tours that focus on the architectural and artistic heritage of Britain and its influence around the world. Since 1999 Curt has maintained an award-winning database on the web, The DiCamillo Companion to British & Irish Country Houses (TheDiCamillo.com), which seeks to document every English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish country house ever built, standing or demolished, together with a history of the families who lived in the houses, the architects who designed them, and the history of the houses’ collections and gardens.

In recognition of his work, Curt has been presented to the late Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and The Prince of Wales. He is a member of The Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain and is an alumnus of both the Royal Collection Studies program and The Attingham Summer School for the Study of Historic Houses and Collections. In addition, he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, is listed in Who’s Who in AmericaWho’s Who in the World, a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and a member of the Council of the American Museum in Britain.

Curt is the curator for special collections at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, the largest genealogical society in the world. Previously, he served for nine years as Executive Director of The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA, based in Boston, where he was responsible for raising over $7 million for the Trust (he currently holds the position of Executive Director Emeritus). Before that Curt worked for 13 years for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. A native of the Philadelphia area, he grew up in Central Florida with his sister, the award-winning children’s book author Kate DiCamillo.

 

Brenton Simons

Historian and author Brenton Simons is president and CEO of the New England Historic Genealogical Society – the flagship genealogical organization in America, today serving 230,000 members and millions of users with more than a billion online records through an award-winning website, AmericanAncestors.org. He has been featured on CNN, FOX, PBS, and in The New York Times, and has, at annual NEHGS galas in Boston, presented family histories to such distinguished guests as Ken Burns, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Doris Kearns Goodwin, Angela Lansbury, Cokie Roberts, Bob Schieffer, David Hartman, HRH Princess Michael of Kent, and others.

For his first volume in a trilogy of Boston histories, Witches, Rakes, and Rogues: True Stories of Scam, Scandal, Murder, and Mayhem in Boston, 1630-1775, Simons received the Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History. His most recent book, Boston Beheld: Antique Town and Country Views, was praised by one historian as “the book Jane Austen might have written had she run into Charles Dickens after his return from his Boston visit of 1842.”

Brenton is a member of the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Connecticut, the Club of Odd Volumes, a fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, a proprietor of The Boston Athenæum, and a board member of Plymouth 400 and The New England Quarterly.

Itinerary

The Great Houses of Yorkshire

B = Breakfast | D = Dinner | L = Lunch | R = Reception / Drinks | T = Tea

Day 1

Sunday, June 24

R, D

 

Arrive in York no later than today and transfer to Middlethorpe Hall hotel independently (at additional cost). You may fly into either London or Manchester and transfer by train to York, and then take a taxi to Middlethorpe Hall. For example, if you fly into London, rail tickets for the two-hour journey from London King’s Cross Station to York are available for advance purchase about 12 weeks prior to your travel time for approximately £53 Standard Fare and from £88 for a First Class ticket. To book online for trains from either King’s Cross or Manchester Airport Station (1.75-hour train journey to York), go to www.nationalrail.co.uk. A 10-minute taxi transfer from York Station to Middlethorpe Hall is approximately £10. Delta has a non-stop flight from Boston to Manchester, for those who’d like to fly in directly and bypass London. Please make sure you check into Middlethorpe Hall no later than 2:00 PM. 

Originally a late 17th century gentleman’s home, Middlethorpe is noted today for its superb service, outstanding food, and magnificent period rooms. All guest rooms, ranging from the Deluxe Double in the Main House, to the Superior Double in the Courtyard, which lack the high ceilings, but affords more privacy, are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

After settling into Middlethorpe Hall, we’ll leave in the late afternoon for Hovingham Hall, the magnificent 18th century Palladian home of the Worsley family, where we’ll have a private tour of the house, followed by time at leisure in the garden. After our return to the hotel there will be time to relax before drinks and dinner in the Pineapple Room at Middlethorpe Hall. 

 

 

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Hovingham Hall

Photo by Curt DiCamillo

Day 2

Monday, June 25

B, T, L, R, D

 

Today begins with a curator-led before-hours tour of Castle Howard, one of the grandest houses in Britain, after which we’ll have coffee and pastries in the Grecian Hall, followed by time to stroll the astonishing grounds.

Next up is Sledmere House, where we’ll have lunch in the dining room, followed by a private guided tour of the amazing Neoclassical house, with time afterward to wander the grounds. 

We’ll return to the hotel, where there will be time to relax before we head to Bramham Hall, where we’ll have a tour of the house and dinner in the gallery hosted by owners Nick and Rachel Lane-Fox

 

 

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Bramham Hall Rear Facade

Photo by Curt DiCamillo

Day 3

Tuesday, June 26

B, L, R, D

 

Our Tuesday starts with a visit to Wentworth Woodhouse, one of the wonders of English architecture. The house has the longest facade—606 feet—of any private house in Europe (it’s twice as long as Buckingham Palace) and contains 365 rooms, 1,000 windows, and five miles of underground passages. So long and confusing are the passageways that, in the 19th century, guests were given colored confetti to lay a trail so they could find the way back to their bedrooms. After a private tour of this immense house, we’ll have lunch in the Van Dyck Room. You can read more about the house, and its scandals, in Catherine Bailey’s 2008 book, Black Diamonds: The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty (the family fortune came from coal).

 

Wentworth Woodhouse

After Wentworth Woodhouse, we’ll head to Nostell Priory, where we’ll have a tour of this breathtaking Palladian house, with time afterward to explore the garden. Based on Palladio’s Villa Mocenigo, with sumptuous interiors by Robert Adam, the highlight of Nostell Priory is its collection of Chippendale furniture, all specially designed for the House. Thomas Chippendale grew up nearby and we’ll be visiting Nostell during the celebrations of the 300th anniversary of the great furniture maker’s birth. 

 

 

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Wentworth Woodhouse

Photo by Curt DiCamillo

Nostell Priory

Our day will end with an after-hours tour of the Italianate Brodsworth Hall, one of the most complete surviving examples of a Victorian country house in England. We’ll have an aperitif overlooking the lovely Victorian garden, followed by an early dinner in a house that is virtually unchanged since the 1860s. Brodsworth is most famous today as the inspiration for the labyrinthine case of Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce in Charles Dickens’s Bleak House, in which the lawyers on both sides benefited, to the detriment of the heirs.

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Nostell Priory

Day 4

Wednesday, June 27

B, L

 

After breakfast, we head to York for a visit to Treasurer’s House, where we’ll have a private, before-hours tour of this 16th century townhouse, right next door to York Minster. Built directly over one of the main Roman roads leading out of York, the original house was built for the Catholic treasurer of York Minster. After the Reformation of the English Church, the House passed into the hands of the archbishops of York; by the 18th century it was in private hands. Treasurer’s House was restored to its present state in the early 20th century by Frank Green, a wealthy local industrialist who gave the House and its contents to the National Trust in 1930.

 

 

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Treasurer’s House

Photo by Curt DiCamillo

Up next is a walking orientation tour of York, followed by lunch in the Rotunda of York’s grand Assembly Rooms, designed in the Palladian style by the famous 3rd Earl of Burlington, known as the “Apollo of the Arts,” who introduced Palladian architecture to Britain almost 300 years ago. 

After lunch we’ll walk to Fairfax House, a Georgian townhouse in the center of York. One of the finest townhouses in the world, Fairfax House is noted for its exceptionally fine collection of 18th century English furniture. Here we’ll have a private connoisseurs’ tour that will focus on the furniture, architecture, and interiors.

The rest of the afternoon and evening are on your own. You can explore York Minster (Evensong begins at 5:15), walk the streets of the historic city, have dinner in town, or take the coach back to Middlethorpe Hall and have dinner at the hotel. 

 

 

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Fairfax House

Photo by Curt DiCamillo

Day 5

Thursday, June 28

B, T, L, T

 

Thursday begins with coffee and a private VIP tour of Newby Hall, followed by time in the shop and garden. Newby is home to a magnificent collection of classical statuary, Chippendale furniture, and Gobelins tapestries.

We’ll stop for lunch at the Crab & Lobster, a charming country restaurant in Asenby.

Then it’s on to the sublime Sion Hill Hall, where owner Michael Mallaby will give us a tour of the house and garden, followed by tea and homemade scones. 

After we leave Sion Hill, we head back to Middlethorpe, where you’ll have the rest of the evening on your own.

Day 6

Friday, June 29

B, D

 

Our last full day together begins with Robert Adam’s masterpiece—Harewood House. We’ll have a curator-led private tour of the house, where the art collection includes Italian Renaissance art and paintings by Turner, El Greco, Titian, Tintoretto, Gainsborough, and Reynolds, in addition to excellent examples of Sèvres and Chinese porcelain. Then there will be time in the stunning garden, followed by lunch on your own at one of the eateries at Harewood, after which you can visit one of the shops.

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Harewood House Rear Facade

Harewood House

Next we’re headed to Temple Newsam House, a stunning 17th century house that houses one of the finest collections of furniture and decorative arts in Britain, where we’ll have a private tour with the curator. We end our day at the hotel, where there will be time to relax before drinks and a grand farewell dinner in the Pineapple Room. 

 

 

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Chinese Drawing Room, Temple Newsam House

Photo by Curt DiCamillo

Day 7

Saturday, June 30

B

 

The tour officially ends after breakfast today. The coach will drop those participants who are heading via train to London, or other UK cities, at York Station and then proceed to Manchester Airport to drop off participants who are flying out directly. 

 

 

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Temple of Four Winds, Castle Howard

Photo by Curt DiCamillo