May 12: Arrival (depart U.S. on 5/11)
On arrival at Heathrow airport, a private transfer will take you to the Grange City Hotel, our hotel for the next six nights. In the evening you are invited to join the group for a welcome drink, followed by dinner.
May 13: Tower of London
Ceremony of the Keys, Benjamin Franklin’s House and Churchill War Rooms We begin our day at the Tower of London to witness one of the oldest and most colorful surviving enactments of its kind; the Ceremony of the Keys. Set amidst the mighty battlements of this ancient fortress, this hugely popular ceremony forms part of the traditional ‘unlocking’ of the Tower of London and dates back some 700 years.
Our next stop takes us to Benjamin Franklin’s House. Situated in the heart of London and built in around 1730, this is the only remaining Franklin home in the world. Still boasting many of its original features, the Founding Father of the United States lived at this property between 1757 and 1775 at a time when he was involved in the mediation between Britain and America.
Later we make our way to the heart of Westminster for our visit to the Churchill War Rooms including a private tour. Set underneath the Treasury building, the museum is comprised of the Cabinet War Rooms, used as a base of British Government command during the Second World War, as well as the Churchill Museum, which displays many exhibits that give an insight into the life of Britain’s wartime Prime Minister.
Tonight is left free for you to make your own arrangements for dinner.
May 14: Foundling Museum, Guildhall and Globe Theatre
Today we visit the Foundling Museum St Pancras which explores the fascinating history of the Foundling Hospital, the UK’s first children’s charity and first public art gallery. Founded in 1739, the hospital aimed to care for babies at risk of abandonment. The museum was more recently established in 2004, to preserve and display the Foundling Hospital Collection, and gives us the chance to explore the lives of the children who grew up at the hospital from 1741-1954. Our next point of call today is Guildhall, a powerhouse since the 12th century. Experience the Gothic grandeur of the Great Hall as well as the largest surviving medieval crypts in London. We also explore the impressive ruins of London’s Roman Amphitheatre which is situated beneath Guildhall Yard. Rediscovered by archaeologists in 1988, the amphitheatre is over 2,000 years old. Crowds would once have come here to watch gladiatorial combats and public executions. Crossing the Thames, we then visit Shakespeare’s Globe where we enjoy a fascinating backstage tour to learn more about this iconic theatre and its most famous playwright; from colorful stories of the original 1599 Globe to the faithful reconstruction process of the 1990s. Back at the hotel this evening, we enjoy dinner together before a fascinating talk by a guest speaker.
May 15: Apsley House and Spencer House
Today takes us to Apsley House. Adjacent to Hyde Park, this spectacular former home of the first Duke of Wellington is famously known as ‘Number One London’. This beautiful Georgian building has changed very little since the Duke’s victory at Waterloo in 1815. As well as taking in the lavish interiors we’ll also find a fine art collection with paintings by Rubens and Velazquez. Our final visit of the day is to Spencer House. 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 neoclassical interiors in Europe.
The rest of the day is free for you to explore the local area with dinner on your own.
May 16: Chiswick House and Wallace Collection
We head to west London this morning to begin our day at one of the most stunning examples of 18th-century British architecture, Chiswick House. The Roman-style Palladian villa was designed by the third Earl of Burlington and architect and designer William Kent. Make sure to take a look at the stunning ceilings of the upstairs rooms as well as the beautiful velvet wallpaper This afternoon we are treated to a private tour of the Wallace Collection, a national museum in a historic London town house. The galleries contain unsurpassed displays of French 18thcentury paintings, furniture and porcelain with superb Old Master paintings and a world class armory.
Tonight we enjoy dinner together at a local restaurant.
May 17: Fenton House and Kenwood House
We start the day to the north of the city in the leafy suburb of Hampstead, 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 17th-century needlework. The balcony of the house offers panoramic views of the city on fine days. Our second visit is Kenwood House, built during the 17th century and originally known as Caen Wood House. Situated in peaceful and impressively landscaped gardens, the property showcases spectacular interiors which we explore alongside a world-class art collection. Later we enjoy dinner back at our hotel.
May 18: Ham House and Marble Hill House
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 guided house tour. The day finishes just across the Thames at Marble Hill House set in 66 acres of beautiful riverside parkland. Built for the mistress of King George ll when he was the Prince of Wales, the property’s grand interiors have been recreated and boast a fine collection of early Georgian paintings. Be sure to see the hand painted Chinese wallpaper in the dining parlor. We then travel to our overnight hotel, the Macdonald Windsor Hotel, where we have a farewell dinner together.
May 19: Departure
A private transfer will take you back to Heathrow airport for your return flight home.