Monday, Sept 10: Arrival
On arrival at Heathrow airport, a private transfer will take you to our hotel, The Goring, where we stay for the duration of the tour. In the late afternoon you have the opportunity to participate in a short familiarization walking tour of the local area. In the evening you are invited to join the group for a welcome drink, followed by dinner at the hotel.
Tuesday, Sept 11: Spencer House and Apsley House
We start the day after breakfast at our hotel with a visit to Green Park, one of London’s eight Royal Parks, which historically have provided Londoners with fresh air and open spaces. From here we walk the short distance to Spencer House where we enjoy a private guided tour. Built between 1756-1766 for John, first Earl Spencer (an ancestor of Diana, Princess of Wales), the house is London’s most magnificent 18th-century aristocratic palace. Designed by John Vardy and James ‘Athenian’ Stuart, the State Rooms were amongst the first neo-classical interiors in Europe.
After a break for you to find lunch in the local area, we visit Apsley House, the London townhouse of the Dukes of Wellington. The 9th Duke still retains the use of part of the buildings. The house contains a museum and art gallery, exhibiting the Wellington Collection, a large collection of paintings, other artworks and memorabilia of the career of the 1st Duke. It is perhaps the only preserved example of an English aristocratic town house from its period.
We return to our hotel in the mid-afternoon and will meet again later to enjoy Dinner at a historic London restaurant.
Wednesday, Sept 12: Ham House & Gardens, Lunch in Richmond on Thames, Chiswick House
This morning after breakfast we take a scenic drive to Ham House and Gardens, one of Europe’s greatest 17th-century houses nestling on the banks of the River Thames. This atmospheric mansion with fine interiors and historic gardens has remained virtually unchanged for 400 years. We find out more about the family who lived at Ham on our private guided house tour.
Afterwards, we enjoy lunch together in a traditional English pub in historic Richmond on Thames, the only London borough situated on both sides of the River Thames.
In the afternoon we visit Chiswick House, a Palladian villa built by the third Earl of Burlington who was inspired by his Grand Tour of Italy to create one of the most glorious examples of 18th-century British architecture. The house has enjoyed mixed fortunes during the years, having strong links to British politics and high society as well as suffering from neglect and even bomb damage in the 20th century. We will discover more on our guided tour. The gardens, birthplace of the English Landscape Movement, were re-opened following a major restoration which has revealed the original vistas and repaired the statues and garden buildings.
After our visit we return to our hotel with the evening free for you to make your own dinner arrangements.
Thursday, Sept 13: Fenton House & the Royal Academy
After breakfast at the hotel we travel out to leafy Hampstead to visit Fenton House, where we enjoy an introductory talk. Fenton House is a 17th-century merchant’s house, bequeathed to the National Trust in 1952 by its last owner and resident Lady Binning. The interior houses the Benton Fletcher collection of early keyboard instruments and collections of portraits and paintings, including the collection of Peter Barkworth, and loans of Sir William Nicholson paintings, porcelain, 17th-century needlework pictures and Georgian furniture. The 17th-century brick mansion also has a walled garden, a working kitchen garden and a 300-year-old orchard, where around 30 types of apple trees flourish.
We then journey back into central London where you will have some free time to find lunch before our afternoon visit when we explore the iconic Royal Academy of Art. Famous for its summer exhibition, but also the home of a year- round programme of exhibitions, the Royal Academy of Arts was founded through a personal act of King George III on 10 December 1768 with a mission to promote the arts of design in Britain through education and exhibition. During our visit we will take in the current exhibition.
After this visit you have the option of remaining in Piccadilly for the rest of the afternoon to take advantage of the wide variety of shops in the area, including Fortnum and Masons; or you may wish to return directly to the hotel.
The rest of the evening is left free for you to make your own dinner arrangements
Friday, Sept 14:, Carlyle’s House, Chelsea Physic Garden with lunch.
After breakfast this morning we pay a private out of hours visit to Carlyle’s House in Chelsea, home of 19th-century writer and historian Thomas Carlyle and his wife Jane. Once the hub of Victorian literary society, when the likes of Dickens, Ruskin and Tennyson visited, the house has been preserved much as it was during the Carlyle’s tenure here. We learn more about the history of the house during our interesting introductory talk.
We will then be offered an insightful walking tour around Cheyne Walk, learning more about the stories behind some of the houses there. Cheyne Walk was a hub for the literary and artistic elite during Victorian times.
We continue on to visit the nearby Chelsea Physic Garden, founded in 1673 as the Apothecaries’ Garden, with the purpose of training apprentices in the identification and use of medicinal plants, and only opened to the public in the 1980s. The location, close to the River Thames, allowed the Apothecaries to moor their barges nearby. The river’s warm air currents contribute to the Garden’s unique microclimate, allowing unusual plant species to flourish. River access also allowed plants arriving from around the World to be introduced to the British Isles via the Garden. We enjoy lunch on arrival, followed by a guided tour of the gardens.
We then return to our hotel and the rest of the evening is free for you to make you own dinner arrangements.
Saturday, Sept 15: Wallace Collection private view
This morning after breakfast we are treated to a private view of the Wallace Collection, a national museum in a historic London town house. The galleries contain unsurpassed displays of French 18th-century paintings, furniture and porcelain with superb Old Master paintings and a world class armoury. After our tour there will be ample time for you to explore the rest of the gallery space at your leisure.
The afternoon is left free for you to explore London at leisure. You might wish to visit one of the many museums and galleries that populate the capital or you could indulge in some retail therapy at one of the many flagship stores nearby.
In the evening we meet again for a farewell dinner at the hotel.
Sunday, Sept 16: Departure
A private transfer will take you back to Heathrow airport for your return flight home.
Please note: there is a fair amount of walking included on this tour. The itinerary may be subject to change due to public events taking place.