Bishop’s Stortford

    Decorative & Fine Arts Society


 Registered Charity Number: 281725


      A Member Society of


     The Arts Society











  BSDFAS :- Outing to Dundee, 8 - 11 September  2019

Seventeen Members arrived at Stansted Airport for their flight to Edinburgh around lunchtime on September 8th. Everyone checked in and made their way air-side for lunch and to keep an eye on the board for the gate to be announced. The Board told us to ’Relax’ so we did – and we relaxed for about three and a half hours!! The plane had been delayed, as we found out later, in Naples! At least with a domestic flight, the walk to the aircraft was not too far! We had apologies from our Captain and the flight proceeded to Edinburgh.

 On arrival our wonderfully patient coach driver was waiting for us and we had the superb sight of the sun shining on the new Forth road bridge – a magnificent structure. The journey to Dundee took us about an hour through lovely scenery and on arrival at our hotel we were quickly allocated our rooms which was a relief. The hotel was a refurbished jute mill and so interesting in structure and décor.

Many of us welcomed the opportunity to have a drink before our delayed dinner which was simple but excellent.  

After breakfast the next morning our lovely guide joined us wearing waterproofs! That said a great deal but we set off suitably clad for our walk round Dundee and a visit to the V&A. On the journey Virginia explained how the city had been regenerated and where some of the historic monuments had been moved or removed to create the new waterfront where we walked. The V&A is a magnificent building viewed from a distance, set along the waterfront and reflecting in the waters of the River Tay where once shipyards stood. It is difficult to describe the profile, suffice to say that the Japanese architect used the inspiration of the stratification of  rocks on the local cliff face to create his masterpiece. 

Following coffee, our V&A guide took us on a tour of the outside and inside of the building sheltering under the overhangs and explaining how the structure was conceived and executed. I was amazed that it came in on budget and within the time scale set. A real must if you are able to visit. The inside is equally unusual using natural materials and different angles. 

After a break for lunch we had a free flow visit to Discovery, Scott’s ship which was built in Dundee. The film clips in the museum sent a chill through one – how cold and inhospitable their journey must have been! When we climbed on the ship and saw the construction timbers and size of the ship, it sent a shiver down my spine imagining it ploughing through the pack ice!

Walking back through the heart of Dundee to visit the McManus Gallery, we saw the classic 19th Century buildings of the era when Dundee was at its heyday. The McManus Gallery held may gems from a beautiful Rossetti painting to an exhibition of ‘What made Dundee Great’. We all returned to our hotel exhausted and fit!

V&A Dundee showing outside views, the RSS Discovery, Miss Cranson's Oak Room designed by Mackintosh and the view of the current road bridge taken through one of almost invisible slit windows.

Our second day was a visit to Glamis Castle, home of the late Queen Mother. A beautiful drive through the countryside and down the drive to the warm red stone building. There we were met by our guide who took us into the old kitchens for coffee before our private visit. We felt very privileged because we were taken to parts of the Castle not normally open to the public. Unfortunately, interior photography was not allowed!

Glamis Castle.

After our lunch we boarded the coach and continued toward Perth where the majestic Scone Palace sat atop a hill. Iain, our guide, took us to Moot Hill where the ‘Stone of Scone’, the ancient crowning place of the Kings of Scotland, once stood. Now replaced by a replica! The Palace, still home to the Earls of Mansfield, is a real treasure; the beautiful French furniture given to the family by Marie Antoinette and the rich wall hangings and wonderful paintings were beautiful to see. The Long Gallery once the longest room in Scotland where Charles II processed to his Coronation and some very unusual sets of vases made of papier maché were wonderful. I think we all enjoyed having a cup of tea and a scone in the tearooms before returning to our hotel and going out for a wonderful meal in the evening!,

Scone Palace, Moot Hill Chapel and a (replica) Stone of Destiny.

Alas, all good things come to an end and Wednesday meant we had to check out to return home but not before we had two more interesting visits!

Our first for the day was to Culross on the banks of the Firth of Forth – making our way along narrow roads we came across the pretty village. We were there to see Culross Palace, built in the early 17th Century for Sir George Bruce, a wealthy merchant.  Although called a Palace, it was never a royal residence and got its name from a misinterpretation of the wording in the title deeds which described it as 'palatial'!! Owned by the National Trust since 1931, it has been carefully preserved with some wonderful, vaulted painted ceilings and sits in the village with other treasures built in the same period. Mining was the industry that bought the wealth to the area together with salt panning and girdlemaking industries! A real treasure.

The entrance to Culross Palace (top centre), its medieval herb garden and the village. Many of the cottages are being restored with grants from The National Trust of Scotland.

We continued our journey toward Edinburgh and nestling almost under the Forth Bridge, we entered the grounds of Hopetoun, Scotland’s finest Stately Home! Home to the Hope family and built between 1699 and 1707 by Sir William Bruce and later enlarged by William Adam in 1721. It has a fine cantilever staircase which is topped by a beautiful lantern that lights the stairway. The impressive rooms are used today by the family for entertaining and there is a magnificent collection of china and furniture with many family portraits by the masters. 

Hopetoun. the bottom right picture is the view from the front of the house and in the 'blow up' (top centre) one can see the Forth (Rail) Bridge and the very new Forth Road Bridge (The Queensferry Crossing) in the background).

Our three days were full but I think I can say that everyone enjoyed themselves and we certainly saw some of the best around Dundee.