Questers’ Visit to the American Museum & Gardens

On Thursday 31 May 2022, a group of 17 Questers undertook a visit to The American Museum at Claverton Manor just outside Bath. This museum is said to be the only museum of Americana outside of the USA. It was opened to the public in 1961 and its purpose is to bring American history and cultures to the people of United Kingdom and Europe. It focuses on the period from the 14th to the 20th centuries.

Transportation to the site was provided by a minibus hired from Unity in Andover, arranged and ably driven by Robert Kemp. We had a full minibus of Robert plus 16 passengers. We even had a short waiting list of interested members who unfortunately couldn’t be accommodated this time.

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.

Cecil Rose

AHA Group Visit to Gurkha Museum – Winchester

The AHA Group had planned a visit to the above venue for Friday 27th May, unfortunately due to the lack of interest this was sadly cancelled.

Members have been asking for guided tours etc. and it was thought that this met the bill, with a 45-minute introduction into the Nepalese culture, dress, beliefs, landscape, and history of the country. This would have led to the connection with the Gurkha Regiment and the British Armed Forces. In addition, this was local and not a full day just over in Winchester.

We try to bring all aspects of interest into the AHA group and this museum visit was considered to have brought more than just a military interest.

If anyone has a particular interest / idea of a venue that may be considered of general interest to others, as previously said, “all suggestions are most welcome”.

We do hope that you will continue to support the AHA subgroup – Anton u3a, and in particular the June function which is a walk/talk by David Richards around Stratford sub Castle and its connection to the old Rotten Borough of Old Sarum via the Pitt family.
Prepared by:
Rosemary Crumplin-Clark

Photography Group’s May Meeting

Best Picture: Water Vole on the River Test (Click to enlarge)

The Group met at 10:15 on 9th May with the theme ‘Spring’. Of the six portfolios submitted, Theresa Twitchell was voted best set of four and John Hawke’s photograph of ‘Water Vole on the Test’ was voted Best Picture.
Discussions centred on various attributes of some photographs submitted. Mike Liberson asked whether the difficulty in taking a picture should be taken into account when judging. It was agreed that pictures should be judged by impact – quality, difficulty, composition and novelty all being part of that impact.
John Hawke suggested that future meetings should include a presentation from a member on topics of their choice. Theresa Twitchell was ‘volunteered’ for the next indoor meeting!

Rosemary Crumplin had been liaising with a local farmer to arrange a Group visit. This has now been arranged for 21st June and will override the June indoor meeting