East Anglia
28th June - 2nd July 2021
One of a series of unique, small-group, tours staying in good quality hotels, led by the key experts in the field, exploring the impact of technology on our great country houses and the people who lived and worked there.
Led by Professor Marilyn Palmer MBE
4 nights, half-board in very comfortable 4 star accommodation - price tbc
( Includes all entrance and special tour fees.
Discount for NT, EH and AIA members )
Register interest

During the late 18th and 19th centuries a variety of technological innovations were becoming available to enhance the comfort and convenience of domestic life but, far from urban centres, the great Country Houses had to be self sufficient in the provision of gas, electricity, sanitation and water supply if they wished to make use of them.

Subsequently, the decline of many country houses, together with their being donated to the National Trust and their opening to the public, has meant that less alteration has taken place than in domestic property and evidence survives of the impact which these innovations had on the buildings, landscape and social structure.

For a number of years Professor Marilyn Palmer and Dr Ian West have been studying the technology in a wide range of country houses, examining both the physical remains and the historical evidence and trying to place them in the wider context of the effects they had on country house servants as well as house owners, families and guests.

Heritage of Industry is delighted to have secured Prof. Palmer and Dr West to lead this series of unique tours where they will guide us through some of theses grand residences, help us to understand some of the fascinating artefacts still to be seen and explain how they changed the lives of those who lived there – both above and below stairs.

Unlike coach company tours, which rely on the normal guides, our expert leaders, working in conjunction with the Collections Managers, give a unique insight to these properties. In most cases, we secure access to the properties early in the day when the houses are not yet open to the public so that we will have the place to ourselves for the duration of the tour and in certain cases are granted permission to see areas not normally open to the public.

At each property, after our special tour, there will be time to further explore the house and gardens.

Based in Cambridge and the beautiful north Norfolk coast, this tour explores East Anglia with some magnificent examples of the great Country House from a Royal Palace to a property described as one of the coldest houses in Britain!


The tour begins at the very comfortable Holiday Inn at Impington just outside Cambridge where we will be spending our first two nights.
The coach will leave the hotel at 13:45 to visit Audley End. This Former royal palace dating from the 17th century, was improved for daily living by Sir John Griffin Griffin in the late 18th century. The house has one of the earliest sprung bell systems and a water supply system, including a water wheel, that dates back to the mid-18th century.

The unique Coal Gallery, built as a service area on the second floor, has been restored by English Heritage, as has the Nursery Suite.There are outstanding gardens, with surviving early greenhouse technology, and the stables have also been restored.
Dinner will be served at 19:00 after which there will be a talk by our expert guide Professor Marilyn Palmer who will give an introduction to Country House Technology highlighting some of the features we can expect to see during our tour. Overnight at the Holiday Inn.

In the morning we will drive to Wimpole Hall for a full day’s exploration. The house dates from the 17th century but has been improved at various times, including by the architect Sir John Soane in the 18th century. It was bought in 1938 by Elsie Bambridge, daughter of Rudyard Kipling.

Over the next 40 years Elsie, with the help of the royalties left her by her father, slowly furnished and decorated the house, seeking out pieces that were either once at Wimpole, or had strong connections to the estate or previous owners.
Highlights such as the 1780s state bed, and the exquisite gilded sofas made especially to fit the curved walls of Sir John Soane’s Yellow Drawing Room, show how a grand country house would have looked in its heyday. Alongside the more formal rooms sit the cosier more personal spaces that make the house a home and reflect the Bambridges’ personalities and tastes.

Look out for the collection of 18th and 19th century conversation pieces that decorate the drawing rooms, delicate French porcelain figures, and collections of carriage prints. The house was finally left to the National Trust in 1976. 

Our unique tour will visit the house to reveal an amazing plunge bath, an extensive bell system and evidence of early gas lighting, including the famous Sun Light before continuing to the Model Farm which was designed by Sir John Soane in a rustic style, with a massive threshing barn and outstanding dairy.

Lunch is available in the Stable Kitchen and Farm Café (own expense).

After dinner with the group the rest of evening is at leisure. Overnight at the Holiday Inn.

In the morning we will visit Anglesey Abbey, Gardens and Lode Mill. Anglesey Abbey is a Jacobean-style house once owned by Lord Fairhaven who transformed what was a run-down country house and desolate landscape into a place which would inspire and surprise visitors. He created a spectacular garden with planting for all seasons and a cosy house in which to entertain his guests with life revolving around horse racing,shooting, and 1930s luxury. He was an avid collector of antiquities, he amassed a vast selection of paintings, silverware, clocks and other items which can be seen throughout the house.
For us there is also a selection of communications, lighting, heating, sanitation and kitchen technology to discover.

The gardens are designed to be colourful and fragrant throughout the year. From snowdrops in January, the rose garden in July to vibrant autumnal colours there is always something special to see.
Lode Mill
A mill is referred to here in the Domesday Book although the present mill dates from the eighteenth century. In about 1900 the mill was converted from corn grinding to cement grinding. An engine may have been installed at this time, as inside the mill today there are some shafts, gears and a chain drive that are unusual in a watermill.

In 1934 Lord Fairhaven acquired the mill and restored it to its corn milling condition although it subsequently fell into disuse. It was restored to working condition in 1982 by the Cambridgeshire Wind and Watermill Society.
Lunch is available at the Redwoods Restaurant on site (own expense).

Gas for heating and lighting is often mentioned on these tours and in the afternoon we will visit Fakenham Gasworks the only surviving town gasworks in England and Wales, complete with all equipment used for the manufacture of gas from coal: retorts, condenser, purifiers, meter and gasholder. The works is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, a prestigious and rare distinction for an industrial site and, as such, is a National Treasure, providing an insight into our cultural, social and industrial heritage with displays of lighting, heating, cooking and domestic equipment.

We shall then drive to the four-star Pheasant Hotel, a charming country house in the heart of the Kelling Estate offering luxury accommodation and good food in a stunning countryside location on the north Norfolk coast, in good time to relax before dinner at 19:00

After dinner, Marilyn will talk on the more technical aspects of Country House Technology, including lighting, heating and communications.

In the morning we will drive to Holkham Hall for a full day’s visit.
Home of the great ‘improver’, Thomas Coke of Norfolk, the house has examples of early gas and electric lighting, heating and communications.

Gas was installed in 1865 but was replaced in the early 20th century by electricity for lighting.

The first demonstration was in 1909 when the future fourth Earl was due to return to London to see his newborn daughter but delayed his journey because “they hope to start the electric light on Tuesday and I should so much like to be here for that”!
The walled garden has some early examples of greenhouse technology and the surviving gas retort house. There is also a thatched ice house. The visit will include a private tour of the parts of the house not normally open to the public and a visit to the archives to study some of the documents concerned with early technology.

Lunch is available at the Courtyard café on site (own expense).

After dinner with the group, the rest of evening is at leisure. Overnight at the Pheasant Hotel.

In the morning we will drive to Felbrigg Hall.
Felbrigg is an example of the absence of technological improvement! It is a small country house which belonged to the Wyndham or Windham family from 15th century.

‘Mad Windham’ ruined the family and the house was sold in 1863 to John Ketton, a Norfolk merchant. He was reluctant to change the house in any way and Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer did not install any form of central heating until 1967 and then only in a modest flat in the north side of the service block which he adopted as his winter quarters – it is regarded as one of the coldest houses in Britain!
There are lovely gardens and the remains of a horse wheel for pumping water which we shall be able to see.

After lunch at the Squire’s Pantry (own expense) the coach will return to Cambridge station, followed by the Holiday Inn where the tour ends.


Professor Marilyn Palmer MBE read History at St Anne’s College, Oxford, and then worked in teacher training before joining the History Department of the University of Loughborough and becoming its Head in 1983. She transferred to the University of Leicester becoming Head of the School of Archaeology and Britain’s first Professor of Industrial Archaeology. She is President of the Association for Industrial Archaeology and was a Commissioner with The Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England before its amalgamation with English Heritage. She serves on committees concerned with her discipline for The National Trust and English Heritage, is Chairman of the East Midlands regional group of the Council for British Archaeology, National Specialist Advisor on Archaeology for the Third Age Trust and she runs a large Archaeology Group for Charnwood U3A. She was the co-author of Technology in the Country House, published in 2016 by Historic England and the National Trust and has lectured widely on Country House Technology. She was awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in June 2015 "for services to Industrial Archaeology and Heritage".


Not forgetting your own comfort and convenience, this tour includes accommodation for the first two nights in very comfortable accommodation in Cambridge followed by two nights on the North Norfolk Coast.


The tour starts at our hotel near Cambridge at 13:45 on the Monday afternoon and after dropping at Cambridge main railway station by about 15:30 ends at the Holiday Inn on the Friday afternoon. We leave you to make your own travel arrangements to and from Cambridge to suit your own convenience and use of alternative departure points. Cars may be left at the Holiday Inn at no expense but must be registered with reception.

Travel during the tour will be by luxury, air-conditioned coach.

Detailed joining instructions will be supplied in good time before the start of the tour.


The cost of the tour is tbc per person sharing, single supplement tbc. The single supplement reflects the additional charges made by the hotels for single occupancy. National Trust members enjoy a discount tbc  per person and English Heritage members tbc per person.

Heritage of Industry is pleased to offer a further discount of £10 per booking to any paid-up member of the Association for Industrial Archaeology at the time of the tour. For more information about the AIA and how to join click here: https://industrial-archaeology.org/membership/

In organising these specialist and quite unique, small group, tours we do not enjoy the same economies of scale which are available to us for our larger group tours. Nevertheless we believe that the cost represents excellent value for money and compares very favourably with other specialist operators. The cost includes:
  • An itinerary packed with visits to fascinating sites
  • 4 nights dinner, bed & breakfast in 4* accommodation
  • Luxury air conditioned mini-coach transport to all sites and driver tip
  • All entrance and special guiding fees
  • Uniquely qualified expert guiding and services of an experienced tour manager throughout
  • Research for the visit
  • Professionally produced, comprehensive tour notes
Excluded are:
  • Lunches
  • Drinks
  • Expenses at the hotels other than dinner, bed & breakfast
All costs are in Pounds Sterling (GBP) and are based on present accommodation, transport costs and taxes. Any change in these may necessitate a price change.


Please note that cancellation charges will apply from 4th May 2020, and, although these will be modified to the extent that costs are not actually incurred, you are strongly advised to insure against the need to cancel.

Non-UK residents also need to consider medical treatment and repatriation charges in the event of illness etc. Participants who do not have travel insurance must nevertheless accept full responsibility for these eventualities.


Non-UK residents must ensure that they carry a valid passport for entry into the UK and may need a visa.
To check visa requirements visit the UK Border Agency website:
Heritage of Industry cannot be held responsible for any problems with entry into the United Kingdom.


Bookings will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis, subject to space availability. Booking is subject to a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 20 people. You are advised not to make non-refundable, contingent travel arrangements until we have confirmed that the tour will run.

Book as soon as possible and by tbc to ensure a place but please feel free to enquire after that date if a place is still available. We will contact you as soon as possible to confirm the booking and to issue an invoice for the balance of the price.

A non-refundable deposit of tbc per person is required on booking. Bookings can be made definite only when the booking details and deposit are received and accepted in writing by Heritage of Industry Ltd. The company's standard terms and conditions apply. The balance of the price is to be paid to Heritage of Industry Ltd on presentation of the invoice. All monies paid to Heritage of Industry Ltd will be held, in accordance with government regulations**, in a customer protection account until the tour is complete so that your money is safe no matter what happens.

All payments should be made using your bank’s online ‘bill payment’ facilities. All account details are on the booking form and we would appreciate an email note when payment has been made. Sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank are also acceptable and there is no extra charge for this at the present time.

We are sorry that we are unable to accept payment by credit/debit card or Paypal.

                                                                           Register interest


** The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 (SI 1992 No. 3288)