May 27: Arrival (depart U.S. on 5/26)
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.
May 28: Oxford
Today we visit historic Oxford, famous seat of learning. On our bespoke walking tour, we discover the history and many of the magnificent buildings of the city including the colleges of the famous Oxford University. Following our guided tour, we have free time to enjoy the city at leisure. The University of Oxford Botanic Garden, the Ashmolean (the world’s first public museum) and Bodleian Library are just some of the attractions here. Later, we check in to the Macdonald Randolph Hotel in the heart of Oxford, where we stay for the next five nights. Tonight we enjoy dinner together at the hotel.
May 29: Buscot Park and Milton Manor House
Built in the late 18th century in Neo-classical style, Buscot Park is the family home of Lord Faringdon, who looks after the property on behalf of the National Trust. Subject to availability, Lord Faringdon will show us around the house where we can admire the family collection of pictures, furniture, ceramics and objets d’art, known as the Faringdon Collection. We then head to Milton Manor House, an elegant 18th-century red-brick house, traditionally designed for Bryant Barrett, the lace maker to King George III. The private home is set in a splendid location and includes a walled garden, stables and fine old trees. We enjoy a guided tour by the owner, where highlights include the impressive Gothic Library and new Roman Catholic Chapel. The evening is left free to make your own dinner arrangements.
May 30: Waddesdon Manor and Upton House
We head to Waddesdon Manor this morning. Built by the wealthy Rothschild family, Waddesdon is a renaissance-style chateau that looks as though it’s been transported to the gentle Buckinghamshire countryside from France’s Loire Valley. Along with a guided tour of the sumptuous interiors, we also enjoy lunch here. We continue on to Upton House, the 1930s country residence of millionaire oil magnate Lord Bearsted. Set among stunning terraced gardens and with sparkling Art Deco interiors, the house was acquired for entertaining and to house Lord Bearsted’s important collections of art and porcelain, one of the finest private art collections in England. This evening is free for you to make your own dinner arrangements.
May 31: Chenies Manor House and Stonor Park
Chenies Manor House is an enchanting Tudor manor house with fortified tower and stepped gables. Originally the home of the Russell family, the manor was bought in the 1950s by the present owners, the MacLeod Matthews family, who take us on a guided tour of their enchanting property. Winner of the HHA/Christie’s Garden of the Year Award 2009, the gardens are divided into a series of compartments, including a sunken garden, a parterre with a yew maze and a Victorian kitchen garden. Our next stop is Stonor Park, situated in a valley in the Chiltern Hills. Home to the Stonor family for 850 years, it is one of the oldest family homes still inhabited today. The owners take us on a guided tour of the house which contains an impressive collection of art and artifacts amassed from across the globe. Highlights of the house also include the Gothic revival hall, atmospheric 17th-century library and dramatic long gallery opening on to beautiful Italianate gardens. Tonight, we enjoy dinner together at a restaurant in Oxford.
June 1: Broughton Castle and Rousham House & Garden
Our first visit is to Broughton Castle, a moated and fortified manor house set in lovely gardens and parkland, where we enjoy a private tour followed by lunch. Much of the original 14th century house remains including the Great Hall, but most of what we see today dates from the 1550s including magnificent plaster ceilings and splendid panelling. Home to the 21st Lord and Lady Saye & Sele, Broughton has remained in the same family since 1447. Next we explore Rousham House and its magnificent landscaped garden, which has remained almost unaltered since it was designed in the early 18th century by William Kent. Kent also redesigned the Jacobean interiors at Rousham which we discover on our private tour, led by a family member. The house retains some 17th-century panelling and the original staircases, furniture, pictures and bronzes. The evening is left free to make your own dinner arrangements.
June 2: Blenheim Palace and Woodstock
We head to Blenheim Palace, set in beautiful parkland landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown where we enjoy a guided tour. As the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough, the palace is synonymous with the Churchill family and is the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. A permanent exhibition commemorates the life of this famous wartime Prime Minister, whilst the magnificent State Rooms reveal a superb collection of tapestries, paintings, porcelain and furniture. We enjoy afternoon tea after our visit. We also make a short stop in Woodstock, a picturesque, historic market town on the edge of the Blenheim estate. Here, we have some free time to explore the antique shops, art galleries and tea rooms. After dinner back at the hotel, we are treated to a fascinating talk by a guest speaker.
June 3: Departure
A private transfer will take you back to Heathrow airport for your return flight home.