Barbara Peacock MA, FRSA

WFASC, Church Cottage, Beauworth, Alresford
Hampshire SO24 OPA
Bookings & enquiries:
Tel: +44(0)1962 771579

Vienna is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, with splendid buildings and one of the most important concentrations of great art in the world. Our nine day tour, led by Thomas Abbott and Barbara Peacock introduced participants to a wonderful range of buildings and works of art both within the city and in the countryside around. Vienna is known for its incomparable array of great Baroque buildings by the most important architects of the day, with splendid aristocratic palaces and fine churches. Highlights were the Belvedere Palace (1714-22) by the great architect Lukas von Hildebrandt and the Karlskirche (1716-39), built by his famous rival, Fischer von Erlach. The city also played a crucially important part in the Secessionist movement of the late 19th century, with the famous Secession Building (1897) and the work of pioneer architects, such as Adolf Loos, and Otto Wagner, whilst the contribution of the famous Wiener Werkstätte was represented in the excellent Museum of Applied Arts.

Vienna’s art collections are outstanding. The Kunsthistorisches Museum holds Old Master paintings of the highest quality and a breathtaking array of treasures collected by the Habsburg princes. Another highlight is the Imperial Treasury, containing the ancient insignia and jewels of the Holy Roman Empire. Outside the city we visited the Habsburg palace of Schönbrunn set in its fine Baroque gardens, and the lesser-known but fascinating romantic neo-Gothic island castle of Franzenburg, a favourite retreat of the last emperor, Franz Joseph. Religious buildings included the beautiful Cistercian Abbey of Heiligenkreuz with its wonderful and little-known sculptures by the Italian sculptor, Giovanni Giuliani, whilst the great Abbey of Melk, rising precipitously above the Danube, encapsulates the drama and the glories of the Baroque.

Participants also experienced the traditional Viennese coffee house in the celebrated Café Central, once the resort of Stalin, Trotsky and Hitler, and enjoyed the local wine and fare in a typical Viennese tavern in the Vienna woods. Finally, a boat ride down the Danube brought this exciting and stimulating tour to a close.

This tour featured some of the finest houses and gardens of Ireland on both sides of the border, including privileged access to many that are privately owned. Charming 17th-century Beaulieu Manor is one of the earliest unfortified Irish houses, and still lived in by the 11th generation of the Tichborne family who built it. The 18th and 19th centuries were the heyday of the great house in Ireland. Early Georgian Florence Court, Carton House, and Russborough all have magnificent Baroque plasterwork, a notable feature of Irish houses. Castletown is one of the grandest Palladian houses in the country with fine Georgian interiors. Castle Ward is schizophrenically unique in having one facade classical and the other Gothic. Castlecoole, the masterpiece of James Wyatt, has some of the most exquisite late 18th-century interiors in Britain. In the Regency period both classical and mediaeval styles were in vogue. Barmeath Castle (the Lord and Lady Bellew) is dramatically neo-Norman; Killineer is a chastely elegant Regency villa, whilst Ballywalter Park (the Earl of Dunleath) is an impressive Early Victorian classical mansion with a spectacular staircase. The state rooms of Crom Castle (the Earl of Erne) evoke the richness of High Victorian Gothic. Finally Baron’s Court (the Duke of Abercorn) is a treasure house of magnificent paintings and furniture.

Visits included the ruins of the early monastic site on Devenish Island. Monasterboice has two of the finest 10th century carved crosses in Ireland, whilst St Columba’s House, Kells is a unique 10th-century oratory. The later mediaeval period is represented by Trim Castle, one of the greatest fortresses of the Middle Ages. The tour ncluded many outstanding gardens and magnificent 18th-century landscape parks. At Killruddery a rare late 17th-century formal garden survives; Barmeath has an important 18th-century layout by Thomas Wright of Durham and great 20th-century gardens will be seen at Listoke House and Mount Stewart.

The Czech Republic has one of the richest concentrations of great houses in Europe, splendid churches and innumerable picturesque little Renaissance and Baroque towns. This is a new tour visiting many wonderful buildings from the mediaeval period to the early 20th century, not seen on previous Wessex tours, and including some of European importance.

The tour focused on Bohemia, a beautiful and unspoilt part of the Czech lands, with an incredibly rich cultural legacy. Highlights of our itinerary include Karlštejn castle, the great residence of Charles IV with its unique painted 14th-century chapel, and the remarkable mediaeval frescoes in the castle of Žirovnice, the beautiful moated villa of Kratochvíle with its sumptuous Renaissance decoration and the castles of Rožmberk and Pardubice, both with important Renaissance interiors, plus architect Santini-Aichel's originality at the Kinský country house of Karlova Koruna and in the former monastery church of Želiv. Ceský Krumlov is an enchanting Renaissance town with a wonderfully preserved Rococo theatre. The country houses of Hrádek u Nechanic and Žleby are notable examples of Romantic Gothic Revival, complete with their original contents, whilst Konopište, the castle of Ferdinand d’Este, heir to the throne, is little changed since his assassination at Sarajevo in 1914. Finally a remarkable Cubist villa by Josef Gocár, one of the key figures of Czech modern architecture, brings us into the 20th century.
       Visits to private houses, confiscated under Communism in 1949 and restituted to their former owners after the Velvet Revolution of 1989.

A Tour led by Barbara Peacock MA FRSA Art historian Thomas Abbot of Dresden. In this richly varied 10-day tour visited four of the most remarkable artistic centres of Germany, Potsdam, Dresden, Leipzig and the Garden Realm of Anhalt-Dessau, three of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The programme included buildings and gardens of all periods. Potsdam, romantically situated within the woods and waterways of the river Havel, a favourite resort of the art-loving Prussian kings and princes. Famed for the beauty of its parks and designed landscapes it forms one of the most remarkable and architecturally thrilling ensembles in Europe. Elector Augustus the Strong, one of the greatest patrons and art collectors of the day, transformed Dresden into a city renowned for its cultural brilliance, whilst Leipzig too was famed as a great literary and artistic centre. In the late 18th century, Leopold III, Prince of the small state of Anhalt-Dessau, which lies midway between Potsdam and Dresden, linked palaces, villas and parks to create one of the finest and earliest of all Continental landscape parks. Known as the Dessau-Worlitz Garden Realm, it encompasses an area of 55 square miles, and includes the estates of Lusium, Oraniebaum and Wörlitz.
  • Thomas Abbott MA, art historian
  • Professor Timothy Mowl, architectural & garden historian
  • Mavis Batey, MBE, garden historian
  • Emeritus Professor J Mordaunt Crook, architectural historian
  • Christopher Dingwall, Bsc, MA, garden historian
  • John Harris, OBE, architectural historian
  • Michael Hill, FSA, architectural historian
  • Dr David Jones, furniture historian
  • Professor David Watkin, architectural historian
  • Dr Tom Williamson, landscape historian
  • Emeritus Professor J Wilton-Ely, architectural historian.
Previous events (tours and lectures) have included:
  • 2015 Art and Architecture in South-Western Scotland
  • 2014 Princely Palaces and Gardens of Prussia
  • 2013 Malvern Country: Art and Architecture
  • 2013 Brussels: Art and Architecture 1200-1930
  • 2012 Art and Architecture in Staffordshire
  • 2011 Czech Republic Splendour & Spectacle: Art and Architecture of Bohemia & Moravia
  • 2011 Bristol and the West Country
  • 2009 Distant Origins and Lasting Legacy:The Art, Archaeology and Architeture of Malta
  • The Princely Palaces and Gardens of Potsdam
  • Atlantic Adventure: The Art and Architecture of Liverpool and the Wirral
  • The Art and Architecture of the North and West Ridings of Yorkshire
  • Palaces and Pinnacles: The Art and architecture of Norfolk
  • The Seats and Strongholds of Scotland
  • The Romantic Vision: English Art and Architecture 1770-1830
  • The Architecture of North Wales: Pageantry and Poetry