May 22: Arrival (depart U.S. on 5/21)
On arrival at Heathrow airport, a private transfer will take you to the Pullman London St Pancras Hotel, our hotel for the duration of our stay. In the evening you are invited to join the group for a welcome drink, followed by dinner.
May 23: RHS Chelsea Flower Show
We visit the Royal Horticultural Society’s most sought-after event, the Chelsea Flower Show, held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Here we can enjoy the finest in garden design and superb expert advice, and soak up the unique atmosphere of this world-famous show. The Great Pavilion is the centerpiece of the show, containing a wide-ranging mix of floral displays, while the Show Gardens showcase the exceptional talent of a handful of carefully selected garden designers, delivering a broad range of design styles and themes.
May 24: Ham House and Southside House
We take a scenic drive to Ham House this morning, one of Europe’s greatest 17th century houses nestling on the banks of the River Thames. This atmospheric mansion has remained virtually unchanged for 400 years. Our next visit is to Southside House. Wonderfully eccentric in taste, the house reflects the lives and loves of generations of the Pennington Mellor Munthe families. With a super collection of art and historical objects, Southside offers a wealth of fascinating family stories, which we enjoy on our private guided tour.
May 25: Royal Observatory, Old Royal Naval College and Queen’s House, Greenwich
We travel down the River Thames by boat to Greenwich, the ‘Home of Time’, where our first visit is to the Royal Observatory. Commissioned by King Charles II in 1675, it played a major role in the history of astronomy and navigation. It is also the location of the historic Prime Meridian, which divides the earth’s eastern and western hemispheres, as well as London’s only planetarium. Next, we head to the Old Royal Naval College. Built on the site of the old Tudor palace where Henry VIII and Elizabeth I were born, this architectural masterpiece has a fascinating history that stretches back over hundreds of years, which we discover on our guided tour. The college is also home to the magnificent Painted Hall, recognized as the greatest piece of decorative painting in England and described as ‘the Sistine Chapel of the UK’. We enjoy lunch here after our tour. Our final visit of the day is to Queen’s House which re-opened in 2016 after renovation. This splendid 17th-century royal villa was the first Classical building in England and houses an extraordinary art collection including works by Great Masters such as Gainsborough, Hogarth and the Van de Veldes.
May 26: Fenton House, Traditional Afternoon Tea and the George Inn
We start the day at Fenton House, a handsome 17th-century merchant’s house set in a beautiful walled garden and one of London’s hidden gems. The house is filled with highly decorative collections of porcelain, Georgian furniture, early musical instruments and 17th-century needlework. The balcony of the house offers panoramic views of the city on fine days. Later, we enjoy a traditional English afternoon tea served at a historic London hotel. This British institution was started by the Duchess of Bedford in 1830 and includes classic tea, sandwiches, scones with cream and jam and dainty cakes. Finally, we make a short stop at the National Trust owned George Inn. Built in 1677, it is the only remaining galleried inn in London and over the years is believed to have been frequented by Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare.
May 27: Departure
A private transfer will take you back to Heathrow airport for your return flight home. Please note: This tour is on a bed and breakfast basis (except on day one when dinner is included). This allows you to make your own evening meal arrangements and explore London.
The date of the visit to the Chelsea Flower Show may change in line with ticket availability.