‘MOTHER OF WALES’
MONDAY 16 – FRIDAY 20 OCTOBER
In 1188 when touring Anglesey with the Archbishop of Canterbury on a recruitment campaign for the Third Crusade, Gerald of Wales, one of the most powerful Anglo-Norman barons in Wales, and a distinguished scholar and historian, cited Anglesey as ‘the Mother of Wales’ in reference to the richness of its soil and its abundant produce. A relatively low-lying island with low hills, the island’s entire rural coastline has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Geologists come to Anglesey to study rocks spewed from primeval volcanoes 600,000,000 years ago; archaeologists come to investigate the largest concentration of intact prehistoric monuments in Wales; medievalists come to explore its many sites as the former centre of Celtic druidism, the seat of the princes of Gwynedd, and the homeland of the Tudors; and engineering historians come to marvel at Thomas Telford’s iron suspension bridge and Robert Stephenson’s prototype box girder, called the Menai Bridges, connecting Wales to Anglesey. Our autumn tour to North Wales encompasses all of these unique facets of Anglesey’s distinct character.
Our daily excursions include the largest Neolithic site in Wales at Llanfaethlu, mysterious Mesolithic chambered cairns and tombs, and the finest of Edward I’s Welsh castles, Beaumaris, described as the ‘most technically perfect’ castle in Britain, certainly one of the great masterpieces of the time of Giotto. Travelling through tiny villages studded with Nonconformist chapels, we stop at exquisite stone 12c churches perched on the coastal headlands. At Plas Newydd, seat of the Marquesses of Anglesey, on the Menai Strait facing Snowdonia, we enjoy two of James Wyatt’s most outstanding light-filled interiors, and the dining room covered in mystical Rex Whistler murals.
We stay in the turreted Chateau Rhianfa, now a Grade II listed building, built in 1849 by Sir John Hay Williams, Baronet of Bodelwyddan as a gift for his wife Lady Sarah. We revel in the light of Anglesey and come to understand why the Anglesey landscape painter, Kyffin Williams, wrote of his birthplace: ‘the light was more pearly than that of the mainland, the cottages whiter and more welcoming.’
COST £1655 Members, £1705 non-members, Single Room Supplement £200, includes four nights’ accommodation at Chateau Rhianfa with breakfast, all lunches with wine, all dinners in Chateau Rhianfa with wine, all lectures and visits and all coach travel during the tour. Excludes travel to and from Bangor.
We are very sorry to say that this tour is not suitable for those with mobility issues as the terrain around the prehistoric monuments is quite rough and uneven.