June 2: Arrival
(depart U.S. on 6/1)
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, followed by dinner.
June 3: Chawton House Library, Jane Austen House Museum and Hinton Ampner
We travel first to Chawton House, an Elizabethan manor house that once belonged to Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Austen Knight. It now accommodates a unique library of titles focusing on women’s writing in English from 1600 to 1830. Continuing our Jane Austen theme, we visit Jane Austen’s House Museum, the charming house in Chawton where she spent the last eight years of her life. This is where she did the majority of her mature writing and now tells the story of the author and her family. Our last stop of the day is Hinton Ampner, an elegant country house with particularly impressive gardens. The property was rebuilt in 1960 by the then owner, Ralph Dutton, after a devastating fire. Today we can wander through the house and take in the fine collection of ceramics and art. Make sure to admire the meticulous garden too.
This evening we check into our hotel for the next seven nights, the Bailbrook House Hotel. Tonight we enjoy dinner together at the hotel.
June 4: Painswick Rococo Garden and Berkeley Castle
Rococo describes a period of art that was fashionable in the 1700s in Europe and today we begin by visiting the Painswick Rococo Garden. Initially designed in the 1740s as an English country gentleman’s venue for hosting intimate garden parties, this is now the only complete Rococo garden in England. Next we visit Berkeley Castle where we enjoy a guided tour. Still home to the Berkeley family today, construction began in the early part of the 12th century. It is best known as the scene of the brutal murder of Edward ll in 1327. The castle has also been used for filming including for popular TV drama Poldark. The state apartments showcase beautiful collections of furniture and rare paintings. Tonight is left free for you to make your own dinner arrangements.
June 5: Salisbury, Salisbury Cathedral, Mompesson House and Wilton House
Today we head to Salisbury where we take a guided tour of the city’s fine medieval cathedral which boasts the tallest spire in Britain. Discover over 750 years of history here including the best preserved original 1215 Magna Carta document. Located within Cathedral Close is Mompesson House, a perfect example of a Queen Anne style town house. Its most notable features include magnificent plaster work, an elegant carved oak staircase and fine period furniture. Outside, the charming walled garden has traditionally planted herbaceous borders. The house also featured in the award-winning film Sense and Sensibility based on Jane Austen’s novel. We then visit Wilton House, an excellent example of Palladian architecture. Here we enjoy lunch and a guided tour. This impressive property has foremost been a family home for over 450 years and is set in 21 acres of landscaped parkland. The house has regularly been used as a filming location too including for the 2005 film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice starring Kiera Knightly. Later we enjoy dinner together at our hotel.
June 6: Bath – No.1 Royal Crescent, Jane Austen Walking Tour and Fashion Museum
Once home to Jane Austen, Bath has remained faithful to its Regency roots. We begin at No.1 Royal Crescent, a Georgian town house that creates a wonderful picture of life for both the wealthy and their servants in Georgian Bath. Here we enjoy a fascinating talk upon arrival. We continue to explore with our guided Jane Austen themed walking tour to view the highlights of the city that features so much in her writing as well as her former homes.
Afterwards, we head to the Assembly Rooms – once the hub of the Georgian social calendar and an important location for Jane Austen’s novels set here; Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. Within the Assembly Rooms we visit the Fashion Museum Bath. Founded in 1963, it houses a world-class collection of contemporary and historic dress, from the 18th century through to modern day. After dinner back at the hotel, we are treated to a fascinating themed talk by a guest speaker.
June 7: Longleat House and Stourhead
We begin the day with a visit to Longleat House which is widely regarded as one of the best examples of high Elizabethan architecture in Britain. Substantially completed by 1580 and now home to the 7th Marquess of Bath, Longleat House is set within 900 acres of stunning ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped parkland. We take a private guided tour around the house, visiting some of the most exquisite rooms before the property opens to the public for the day, and later enjoy an included lunch. Afterwards we head to Stourhead. The estate is renowned for its 18th-century landscaped garden, featured in the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice, and a delight of classical temples, exotic trees, hidden grottos and a magnificent lake. The grand Palladian house is no less of a draw, with its Chippendale furniture and one of the finest Regency libraries left in existence.
This evening we enjoy dinner together at our hotel.
June 8: Bowood House and Lacock Abbey
Family home of the Marquis and Marchioness of Lansdowne, Bowood houses a unique collection of historical artifacts and family heirlooms built up over 250 years; from Queen Victoria’s wedding chair to Napoleon’s death mask. Outside are 100 acres of beautiful parkland, designed by ‘Capability’ Brown. Bowood was also used as a filming location for the 2007 TV film of Northanger Abbey.
Here we enjoy a guided tour followed by an included lunch.
We then head to the village of Lacock with its picturesque streets of timber-framed cottages. Lacock Abbey sits at the heart of the village with golden stone cloisters and a Great Hall. Once a medieval nunnery, the abbey was turned into a family home by William Henry Fox Talbot who invented the first photographic negative. Tonight you have some free time to make your own arrangements for dinner.
June 9: Montacute House and Wells
This morning we visit Elizabethan Montacute House. This splendid mansion of golden stone with its oak-panelled rooms and the longest gallery in England is crammed with treasures including the Tudor and Elizabethan portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery. Several scenes of the 1995 film version of Sense and Sensibility were filmed at Montacute, including the scene where Marianne was rejected by Willoughby.
Afterwards we continue on for a short stop in Wells, located at the foot of the Mendip Hills. England’s smallest city boasts a magnificent cathedral and unique moated Bishop’s Palace while the eclectic mix of buildings and narrow streets adds to the atmosphere here. Later we have dinner at the hotel.
June 10: Winchester Cathedral and The Vyne
Today we explore the medieval city of Winchester with a literary-themed guided tour of the cathedral. The awe-inspiring cathedral is just one of the historic highlights here; its hidden treasures include the tomb of Jane Austen and the Winchester Bible, one of the finest 12th-century bibles to have survived. We continue on to The Vyne, a splendid Tudor red-brick mansion set in 13 acres of attractive gardens. It was built for King Henry VIII’s Lord Chamberlain before becoming the Chute family home for over 300 years. From here we travel back to the Macdonald Windsor Hotel where we enjoy a farewell dinner together.
June 11: Departure
A private transfer will take you back to Heathrow airport for your return flight home.