Study Days

The SAHGB runs study days to sites of interest in Britain and abroad throughout the year.

For more information please email the event organisers:

Grange Park Opera at West Horsley Place, Surrey

Saturday 29 June 2019


A performance of Englebert Humperdinck’s Hänsel and Gretel , with a short, pre-performance guided tour of the West Horsley Place and the backstage of the Opera House, led by the CEO, Wasfi Kani OBE.

The SAHGB has been generously offered 20 tickets at £50 each.

There are three arrangements for dinner:

  • Members may individually book a three-course dinner in one of two restaurants for £77 per person.
  • A group table can be reserved in the marquee at £15 per person, where you can enjoy your own picnic.
  • You may take a space in one of the gardens and enjoy your own picnic there.

The tour of the house and theatre will start at 16.15, and the performance will begin at 18.00. There is a long interval for dinner, and the evening will end at about 21.45. You may linger in the garden until 22.45. Many guests wear formal evening wear (black tie/long dress), but stylish creativity is encouraged. Members will make their own way to West Horsley Place. Classic cars are available to drive guests to and from Horsley Station. For those coming by car, there is free car-parking in the grounds which open at 16.00.

West Horsley Place dates from the C15. This medieval house, probably a L-plan building, was altered to an H-plan in the C16. The south front was refaced circa 1630 in what Pevsner calls ‘the Artisan style of the Dutch House at Kew’. Further work was done to the exterior in the C17 and C18. Internally, there is one small, late-C16 staircase but the main staircase is late-C17. Pevsner describes most of the interiors as ‘very plain C18’. The Grade 1 listed house was the home of Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe but when she died in 2014, at the age of 99, it passed — to his great surprise — to her great-nephew, the broadcaster and onetime quiz-master of University Challenge, Bamber Gascoigne. He made the property over to the Mary Roxburghe Trust as a performance centre and a place for the study of arts and crafts. Meanwhile, the late Duchess’s ashes were buried in the foundations of the new opera house.

In 2017 Grange Park Opera relocated from Northington Grange, Hampshire, to West Horsley Place, Surrey, and in eleven months built a five-storey opera house modelled on La Scala, Milan, seating 750 people. The Times  Arts Awards acknowledged the achievement as the ‘fastest construction of an opera house in history’. The architect was Tim Ronalds Architects. See here for more information.

The most recent addition to the complex is the Lavatorium Rotundum. Consultant architect, David Lloyd Jones, a founding partner of Studio E and an advocate of sustainable architecture, describes it as ‘a ‘40s fitted-out pavilion dedicated to your essential needs.’ Built of brick and with a grass roof, it features a 1940s interior complete with green puddle-glaze tiles, 47 original Ministry of Defence light shades and an option of Bronco loo-paper. The gents includes a communal octagonal washing trough.

Tickets will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.  To book your ticket and any dining call Grange Park Opera on 01962 737373 and quote ref: ‘SAHGB Outing’ (open Monday-Friday, 9.30-5.30), or email your request to Grange Park Opera will be in touch to confirm your booking and take payment.

Additional Information:
Click here for an interview with Wasfi Kani, CEO of Grange Park Opera. For an evening at Grange Park Opera, see here.

Grange Park Opera is a not-for-profit organisation and a registered charity.

Recent Activities

Royal Naval College, Greenwich

Wednesday 11th July 2018
London SE10 9NN

A Study Day led by Will Palin (Conservation Director) and Pete Smith took place at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. The former royal palace at Greenwich was partly rebuilt to the designs of John Webb between 1664 and 1672 – the King Charles Building. The site was vested in the trustees of the Royal Naval College in 1694. Sir Christopher Wren designed the new hospital with its twin domes framing the view of the Queen’s House from 1696. Nicholas Hawksmoor – the King William Building and the Queen Anne Building – John James and Thomas Ripley oversaw the completion of Wren’s overall design in four phases between 1696 and 1751. A fire in 1779 destroyed Thomas Ripley’s chapel which was rebuilt to the designs of James Stuart between 1780 and 1788. John Yenn rebuilt the west wing of the King Charles Building between 1812 and 1815. The visit will include a chance to climb up into the Wren’s eastern dome and to see close up work on the restoration of the ceiling in the Painted Hall by Sir James Thornhill.

Somerset House

March 21, 2018
The Strand, London WC2R 1LA
​A Study Day led by Frances Sands and staff from Somerset House took place at the Soane Museum and then Somerset House. The Soane Museum’s extensive collection of drawings from the office of William Chambers relating to the design and construction of Somerset House was displayed for discussion. This was followed by a visit to Somerset House in the afternoon. As the largest purpose-built government office built in England in the 18th century, built to house not only the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Academy, but also a large number of government departments, each with their own individual requirements this building was an unusually complex and difficult commission. William Chambers used all his influence to gain the commission, even travelling to Paris to ensure knowledge of the very latest architectural fashions. Begun in 1776 and not completed until 1801 this was in many ways the culmination and highpoint of Chambers’ architectural career. Lunch not included.


Somerset House. From SJSM, SM_41_1_18_Ardon_Bar_Hama.

St. Giles House

September 15, 2017
Wimborne St Giles, Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 5NA
​A Study Day led by John Cattell took place at St Giles House on Friday 15 September 2017. The site of St Giles House and the accompanying estate have been in the hands of the Ashley family since the mid-15th century. The house contains fabric dating from the mid-late 16th century but it was substantially enlarged and rebuilt in the period 1650-1672 by the eminent statesman Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, the First Earl of Shaftesbury. Further alterations were carried out by Henry Flitcroft for the 4th Earl in the period c.1740-50. The 4th Earl and Susannah, Countess of Shaftesbury also created a symbolic designed landscape with lake, temples and a wonderful shell grotto of c.1746, recently restored. The house was the subject of a detailed investigation by English Heritage in 2002-3 when it was in poor condition and on the English Heritage Buildings at Risk Register. Since 2010 the house has been the subject of a multi award-winning restoration programme by the 12th Earl and the Countess of Shaftesbury and the once largely inaccessible building is now open for visits and events. The study day was an excellent opportunity to tour the family home of one of England’s most influential aristocratic families. The event began at 10am, Coffee, Lunch and Tea were included; and it concluded at around 4.00pm.


Slyfield House

Saturday July 1, 2017
Cobham Road, Stoke D’Abernon, Cobham, Surrey KT11 3QE

A Study Day led by Adam Menuge with Claire Gapper explored Slyfield House, a residence purchased by George Shiers, Apothecary to King James I, for £3,080 in 1614. He largely rebuilt the house in brick soon after acquiring the property. His daughter-in law, Elizabeth bequeathed the property to Hugh Shortrudge, and on his death in 1720 it was vested in trustees for the benefit of Exeter College, Oxford. In 1743 the trustees ordered the demolition of the Great Hall thereby separating the present Slyfield House from the farmhouse. The Trustees sold the estate in 1876 to Canon Frederick Philips who continued to let the house. It was eventually purchased by our hosts, Paul and Vanessa Richards in 1983. The house is built of mellow red brick and the main south front is decorated with a magnificent range of giant Ionic pilasters and a projecting former centrepiece topped with a crude pediment. Inside the house contains much of its original woodwork including a number of panelled rooms, a fine staircase with strapwork panels, rusticated newels and dog-gates plus a series of remarkable plaster ceilings. Coffee, Lunch and Tea was included and the event concluded around 3.30pm.