July 21: Arrival (depart U.S. on 7/20)
On arrival at Manchester airport, a private transfer will take you to our overnight hotel, the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel, Manchester. In the evening you are invited to join the group for a welcome drink and canapés, followed by dinner.
July 22: Wentworth Woodhouse and Brodsworth Hall & Gardens
Wentworth Woodhouse was built by the First Marquess of Rockingham between 1725 and 1750 and consists of two joined houses of totally different architectural styles; the Baroque style west front and the east front in the later Palladian style. Having been closed to the public for over 25 years, the house is now open and in the process of being restored to its former glory. We enjoy a guided tour of the magnificent State Rooms, acknowledged to be some of the finest of the Georgian era. Next we visit Brodsworth Hall and Gardens. Built in the 1860s in the Italianate style for the wealthy Thellusson family, the house has survived with remarkably few changes. With a sense of grandeur mixed with gentle decline, Brodsworth tells the story of the changing fortunes of the people who lived and worked here while the beautiful pleasure gardens have been restored to their full Victorian splendour. After our visit, we travel on to the Middlethorpe Hall Hotel, one of the Historic House Hotels of the National Trust, where we stay for the next three nights. Tonight, we enjoy dinner together at the hotel.
July 23: Castle Howard and York
Designed by Sir John Vanbrugh, Castle Howard has twice appeared as Brideshead in film and television adaptations of Evelyn Waugh’s classic novel. Home to the Howard family for over 300 years, this magnificent 18th-century residence offers world-renowned collections and stunning architecture, all set within 1,000 acres of breathtaking scenery with idyllic gardens, woodland and lakeside walks. We continue on to York, where we enjoy an early evening guided walking tour. The city is steeped in history, from its founding by the Romans in 71AD to its wealth as a medieval wool trading centre and there is plenty of evidence of this fascinating past left to admire, from the Roman city walls to the surviving medieval streets known as the Shambles. After our tour, we enjoy dinner together at a restaurant in York.
July 24: Harewood House, York Minster and Treasurer’s House
Built in the 18th century, Harewood House is one of the greatest Treasure Houses in England, with interiors designed by Robert Adam, furniture by Thomas Chippendale and an outstanding art collection ranging from Renaissance masterpieces to 20th century art. Set in a magnificent ‘Capability’ Brown landscape, Harewood is still home to the Lascelles family and reflects the changing tastes and styles of the past 250 years. We then have the opportunity to explore the iconic York Minster, the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe and home to some of the most stunning stained glass windows that have led to the Minster being described as ‘the Sistine Chapel of England’. Afterwards, we visit Treasurer’s House in the heart of the city. The house has a 2,000-yearold history and was the first house given complete with its contents to the National Trust in 1930. This is thanks to Frank Green, a wealthy industrialist who not only restored this magnificent house but used it to stage his remarkable collection of antique furniture, art and textiles. After dinner back at the hotel this evening, we enjoy a fascinating talk by a guest speaker.
July 25: Fountains Abbey and Lake Windermere Cruise
Leaving our hotel, we travel to the largest monastic ruin in Britain, Fountains Abbey. Nestling in the Skell Valley, the ruin is surrounded by some 800 acres of gorgeous countryside, including the Georgian Studley Royal Water Garden with its wonderful views, cascades, follies and statues, and a medieval deer park. We continue on to Bowness-on-Windermere where we embark on a picturesque boat cruise across Lake Windermere, the largest natural lake in England, with magnificent views of mountain scenery, secluded bays and wooded islands. We disembark in Lakeside from where we travel the short distance to the Lakeside Newby Bridge Hotel, our base for the next three nights. Dinner is included every night of our stay here.
July 26: Coniston Water, Brantwood House, Beatrix Potter Gallery and Rydal Mount
This morning we enjoy a scenic drive alongside Coniston Water with its backdrop of spectacular scenery towards Brantwood. Here we celebrate the Arts and Craft movement at Brantwood House, former home of John Ruskin. Brantwood is filled with many fine paintings, beautiful furniture and Ruskin’s personal treasures and offers a fascinating insight into the world of the famous writer, artist and social reformer. Our next stop is the picturesque village of Hawkshead where we visit the Beatrix Potter Gallery. The 17th-century building was once the office of Beatrix’s solicitor husband and now exhibits her wonderful drawings and illustrations. Later we visit Rydal Mount, poet William Wordsworth’s family home for the greater part of his life from 1813 until his death in 1850. The house retains a lived-in, family atmosphere and contains portraits, personal possessions and first editions of the poet’s work which we discover on our guided tour.
July 27: Blackwell, Holker Hall and Cartmel
We start with a visit and morning coffee at Blackwell, one of Britain’s finest Arts and Crafts houses. Designed by MH Baillie Scott, Blackwell retains many of its original decorative features, including spectacular plasterwork and stained glass while the rooms contain furniture and objects by many of the leading Arts and Crafts designers. We continue on to Holker Hall, home of Lord and Lady Cavendish, where we enjoy a guided tour. Dating back to the 16th century, with alterations and additions in the 18th and 19th centuries, it is a delightful family home with fine displays of antique furniture and art. We return to the hotel via Cartmel, an unspoilt medieval village that has grown up around its famous 12th-century medieval Priory. Around the village square is an assortment of 16th to 18th-century buildings housing traditional pubs and interesting shops.
July 28: Abbot Hall Art Gallery and Gawthorpe Hall
We head to Kendal and the Abbot Hall Art Gallery, originally designed as an opulent house by architect John Carr in 1759. Kendal’s finest historic house is now an award-winning art gallery, showcasing a variety of works by a wealth of artists including George Romney, Daniel Gardner and John Ruskin. We then pay a visit to Gawthorpe Hall, an Elizabethan country house affectionately referred to as the ‘Downton of the North’. Family seat of the Shuttleworth family for over 300 years, the hall was redesigned in the 1850s by architect Sir Charles Barry, designer of the Houses of Parliament and the ‘real’ Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle. The hall houses the North West’s largest collection of portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery as well as the Gawthorpe Textiles Collection, a wonderful collection of intricate lace, embroidery and needlework. After our visit, we travel back to the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel, where we enjoy a farewell dinner together.
July 29: Departure
A private transfer will take you back to Manchester airport for your return flight home.