Sunday, May 15: Arrival On arrival at Heathrow airport, a private transfer will take you to the Hendon Hall Hotel where we stay for the next two nights. In the evening you are invited to join the group for a welcome drink, followed by dinner.
Monday, May 16: British Library and Shakespeare’s Globe
After breakfast we head into central London to visit the British Library, the national library of the United Kingdom. We enjoy morning coffee before our guided tour where we discover more about the library’s history, its collections and architecture. We also visit the Shakespeare exhibition, marking the 400th anniversary of his death.
We cross the River Thames to Shakespeare’s Globe where we enjoy a fascinating backstage tour to learn more about this iconic theatre and its most famous playwright; from colourful stories of the original 1599 Globe to the faithful reconstruction process of the 1990s.
Tuesday, May 17: Baddesley Clinton and Compton Verney
Set timelessly in its own secluded parkland, Baddesley Clinton is an atmospheric, medieval manor house dating back to the 13th century. This moated house and its extensive formal gardens are steeped in history, from its use as a place of hiding and refuge for Catholic priests to the story of the Victorian Quartet; four writers and artists who used Baddesley as a retreat from the modern world.
We then head to Compton Verney for a guided tour of this award-winning independent art gallery which houses several portraits relevant to Shakespeare’s age. Housed in a restored Georgian mansion and surrounded by 120 acres of stunning ‘Capability’ Brown parkland, Compton Verney is also holding a special anniversary exhibition about Shakespeare, with paintings of him and artworks inspired by his plays and sonnets.
We then travel to the Mercure Stratford-upon-Avon Shakespeare Hotel where we stay for the next four nights.
Wednesday, May 18: Shakespeare’s Family Homes
Today we delve further into the world of William Shakespeare as we discover his family homes, each place with its own fascinating story to tell. At Shakespeare’s Birthplace we explore the extraordinary story of Shakespeare in the house he was born and grew up in. We then take a short walk to Hall’s Croft, the elegant Jacobean home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna and her husband Dr John Hall. The walled garden here is planted with fragrant herbs used in Dr Hall’s remedies. We end the morning at Holy Trinity Church on the banks of the River Avon, where Shakespeare was baptised, worshipped, and where he is buried.
In the afternoon, we travel to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Gardens, the setting of the young Shakespeare’s courtship with his future bride. Here, garden lovers can explore nine acres of beautiful cottage gardens and woodlands walks.
Thursday, May 19: Charlecote Park and Coughton Court
Charlecote Park’s history has a less respectable connection; the famous playwright is rumoured to have been caught poaching deer here. Home to the Lucy family for 900 years, this lovely Tudor manor is a real treasure.
We travel to our next destination via some important villages in the Shakespeare story; Snitterfield, where William’s father John was born, Wilmcote, where his mother Mary was born and Temple Grafton where John and Mary were married.
We continue on to stunning Coughton Court where we enjoy a private talk about the house. Home to the Throckmorton family for 600 years, Coughton is still very much a family home with an intimate feel. While the interior gives us a unique insight into the history of the Catholic faith in this country, the spectacular gardens feature a pleasant riverside walk as well as colourful rose displays.
Back at the hotel this evening, we enjoy a fascinating talk on Shakespeare’s Stratford by a guest speaker.
Friday, May 20: Kenilworth Castle and Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre
This morning we visit Kenilworth Castle, one of England’s largest medieval fortresses and most impressive castle ruins. It was here that Robert Dudley, the great love of Elizabeth I, created an ornate palace. We also take a tour through the beautifully recreated Elizabethan Garden, lost to the world for over 400 years, but now open to visitors once more.
We then head back to Stratford to attend a matinee performance at the iconic Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre.
Saturday, May 21: Scenic Cotswolds and Oxford
We check out of our hotel and make our way towards Oxford. It is believed that Shakespeare travelled to London via Oxford, and walkers have attempted to reconstruct ‘the Shakespeare Way’, tracking the route that he would have taken. Our route takes us via the picturesque Cotswold stone villages of Stow-on-the-Wold and Bourton-on the Water.
Historic Oxford is known as the city of dreaming spires and world-famous seat of learning. We enjoy a guided walking tour to learn more about this unique city, its history, university and famous people.
After free time to explore Oxford at leisure, we travel to the Radisson Blu Edwardian Guildford Hotel, where we enjoy a farewell dinner.
Sunday, May 22: Departure
A private transfer will take you back to Heathrow airport for your return flight home.