Photographs by Bob Brown
Sixty-five members of Dorking and District U3A took their picnics to Juniper Hall on a day of mixed weather in August. There we found RUG members to direct our parking and to send us to the rainbow bunting-surrounded front lawn, where tables and chairs had already been set out with red and white checked tablecloths, meaning that we did not have to think about anything other than food and drink! Despite this we were offered miniature bottles of wine, the imaginative idea of Caroline Brown who is currently the Events and Publicity coordinator for the committee, and we were entertained by Mike Gooch, an enthusiastic DJ who also provided a very demanding quiz.
The setting was perfect, the lawn being between the stone building and the backdrop of the North Downs, with the Broadwood Tower near the top and Belted Galloway cattle grazing between the bushes and trees on the hillside.
Caroline had also arranged for groups of members to be escorted around the house and to receive background information on the history and current use of the house. These visits were very much enjoyed by the participants. I even discovered that some non-members had found their way to our visit and picnic via the Dorking Museum, where Caroline had deposited tickets to make it easier for our members to obtain them in August when many U3A groupings were no longer meeting.
The earliest building goes back to the 17th Century and was later extended with East and West Wings and a Lady Templetown designed the painted Templeton Room during this time (now Grade 1 listed). Later purchasers continued extending and building, and in 1815 the house was sold to Thomas Broadwood (of the piano making family and who made a piano for Beethoven). Thomas built Broadwood Tower on the hill opposite Juniper Hall. The last private owners were the MacAndrew family, resulting in 1882 in the building taking the form we see now. During World War II Juniper Hall was used by the Canadian military and in 1945 it was sold by Miss MacAndrew to the National Trust and it now forms part of the Box Hill Estate.
In 1946 Juniper Hall was leased to the Council for the Promotion of Field Studies, now the Field Studies Council. I realise that I was part of one of the earliest groups to stay in the dormitories while on a Geography and Biology field trip just three years later! Living in far away SE London, I didn’t even know where Dorking was in those days.
This was the second D&D U3A picnic initiated by Pat Smith, and we are very grateful that Caroline Brown took on the task of actually making it happen – and making it happen so successfully and enjoyably.