August 11: Arrival (depart U.S. on 8/10)
On arrival at Heathrow airport, a private transfer will take you to our overnight hotel, the Macdonald Windsor Hotel. In the evening you are invited to join the group for a welcome drink and canapés, followed by dinner.
August 12: Highclere Castle and Polesden Lacey
We journey to the world-famous Highclere Castle, residence of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon and filming location for the much loved Downton Abbey television series. Entrance includes access to the Egyptian Exhibition in the cellars of the castle, which explores the achievements of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1922. Next stop is Polesden Lacey, described as a ‘delicious house’ by the Queen Mother on her honeymoon there. This peaceful countryside retreat is most closely connected to Dame Margaret Greville who entertained royalty and the celebrities of her time with lavish parties at the manor, which remains home to her extensive collection of art and ceramics. We also have time to wander the beautiful gardens that are a delight to explore. After our visit, we travel on to the Chilston Park Hotel where we stay for the next four nights. Tonight we enjoy dinner together at the hotel.
August 13: Hever Castle and Chartwell
We head to Hever Castle, the childhood home of Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, where we enjoy a guided tour. Dating back to the late 13th century, this double-moated castle is home to various historic artifacts including Tudor portraits and fine furniture, as well as two prayer books inscribed by Anne Boleyn. The castle was lavishly restored and extended by American millionaire, William Waldorf Astor, in the early 20th century. The spectacular gardens feature peaceful walks, two mazes and are renowned for having their own Hever Castle Rose. We then pay a visit to Chartwell, Sir Winston Churchill’s beloved home from 1924 to the time of his death. The house is set in a stunning location and is still home to many of the great statesman’s personal and political mementos, including an amazing collection of gifts he received from other world leaders and his personal painting studio hidden away in the colourful grounds. The evening is left free to make your own dinner arrangements.
August 14: Provender House and Belmont House
Our first visit is to Provender, home of Princess Olga Romanoff, daughter of Prince Andrew Romanoff, the eldest nephew of the Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. Dating back to the 13th century, Provender is a fascinating record of English building traditions over seven centuries. A recent program of careful restoration has revealed a wealth of historical and architectural detail which we discover on our exclusive private tour, led by the princess herself. Afterwards, we visit Belmont House where we enjoy a guided tour. This magnificent Neoclassical country house is a completely unspoilt example of architect Samuel Wyatt’s work. Six generations of the Harris family have each left their mark on the house which contains mementos of the family’s history and travels and the finest private collection of clocks and watches in Britain, created by the 5th Lord Harris. After dinner back at the hotel this evening, we enjoy a fascinating talk by a guest speaker.
August 15: Chiddingstone Castle, Leeds Castle and Traditional Pub Dinner
We head to Chiddingstone Castle where we enjoy a guided tour. Set in 35 acres of beautiful grounds, the castle has undergone a number of architectural changes; from its beginnings as an early timber-framed Tudor dwelling to a rebuild to resemble a medieval castle in the early 19th century. Today it houses the collections of the late antiquarian Denys Eyre Bower including Japanese lacquer, Ancient Egyptian treasures, Stuart paintings and Jacobite manuscripts. The Victorian kitchen and servants’ hall give a taste of the former ‘upstairs downstairs’ life of the house. After our tour we enjoy tea and biscuits. We continue on to Leeds Castle, a quintessential moated castle set in 500 acres of glorious parkland. Dating back to the 12th century, it was once home to Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon. The castle’s last private owner was Lady Baillie, an Anglo-American heiress who lovingly restored the castle to its former glory. We discover more of the castle’s fascinating history as well as its wealth of furnishings, paintings, tapestries and antiques on display. In the evening, we head to a traditional local pub where we enjoy dinner together.
August 16: Buckingham Palace and Clarence House
Leaving Kent, we head to London and Buckingham Palace, the official residence of Her Majesty the Queen. Here we take an audio guided tour of the spectacular State Rooms, used by The Queen and members of the Royal family to receive and entertain their guests on State, ceremonial and official occasions. The rooms are full of treasures from the Royal Collection including paintings, sculpture, exquisite Sèvres porcelain and some of the finest English and French furniture in the world. Next is Clarence House, the former home of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and now the official London residence of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. The arrangement of the rooms and their contents remain much as they were in The Queen Mother’s time, with important works from Her Majesty’s famous collection of art. We then return to the Macdonald Windsor Hotel, our base for the last two nights of our stay. Later, we enjoy dinner together at the hotel.
August 17: Windsor Castle and Frogmore House
We start the day at Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world and one of the Queen’s official residences. Established in the 11th century by William the Conqueror, it has been remodelled by successive kings and queens and is regularly used for ceremonial and State occasions. The magnificent State Apartments are furnished with some of the finest works of art from the Royal Collection while St George’s Chapel is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in England. Close by is Frogmore House, a favourite royal retreat for more than 300 years. Built in the 17th century, the interests of several generations of the Royal family have influenced Frogmore’s interior. Although no longer occupied, it is still frequently used by the Royal family for private entertaining. Tonight, we enjoy a farewell dinner together at our hotel.
August 18: Departure
A private transfer will take you back to Heathrow airport for your return flight home.