The romantic county of Kent offers a multitude of historic treasures, from enchanting castles and stately homes to imaginative gardens and delightful coastal towns. On this captivating break we learn about Kent’s role in shaping English history, and discover some of its famous residents such as Ann Boleyn, Charles Dickens and
Winston Churchill. In a county famed for its castles, we also explore historic Hever and impressive Leeds Castle. We combine these fascinating architectural wonders with the peacefulness of the Kentish coast, as we experience the classic seaside charm of Margate and Whitstable.
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- Trip Type
- Individual Travel Tour, International Land & Rail Voyages
- Departure Dates
- May 5, 2020 - May 13, 2020
Nights One and Eight – Castle Hotel Windsor– MGallery, Windsor
Nights Two to Seven – Chilston Park Hotel, Lenham
- day 1
May 5: Arrival (depart U.S. on 5/4)
On arrival at Heathrow airport, a private transfer will take you to our overnight hotel, the Castle Hotel Windsor – MGallery. In the evening, join the group for a welcome drink, followed by dinner.
- day 2
May 6: Chartwell and Ightham Mote
Today we first visit Chartwell, Sir Winston Churchill’s beloved home from 1924 to the time of his death. The house is still home to many of the great statesman’s personal and political mementos, including an amazing collection of gifts he received from other world leaders and his personal painting studio hidden in the grounds. Next, we explore the moated manor house of Ightham Mote, once described by historian David Starkey as “the most beautiful and the most interesting of English country houses”. Built nearly 700 years ago, atmospheric Ightham has been home to medieval knights, courtiers to Henry VIII and Victorian High Society. From here, we travel to the Chilston Park Hotel where we stay for the next six nights.
- day 3
May 7: Hever Castle and Riverhill Himalayan Gardens
We head to Hever Castle, the childhood home of Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, where we enjoy a private guided tour and lunch. Dating back to the late 13th century, this double-moated castle is home to various historic artifacts including Tudor portraits and furniture, as well as two prayer books inscribed by Anne Boleyn. The castle was lavishly restored by American millionaire, William Waldorf Astor, in the early 20th century. We continue to Riverhill Himalayan Gardens, a fine example of horticultural excellence, created by contemporary of Charles Darwin and patron of Victorian plant hunter, John Rogers. We discover its interesting history as we enjoy the combination of world-class British sculpture, secret pathways
and stunning floral displays. This evening we enjoy dinner together in a local pub.
- day 4
May 8: Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Tenterden and Bodiam Castle
This morning we head to Sissinghurst Castle Garden where we enjoy an exclusive out-of-hours garden tour. Created in the 1930s by novelist Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson around the ruins of an Elizabethan manor house, these world-famous gardens are laid out as a series of individually-planted ‘rooms’ including a fragrant Herb Garden and Rose Garden. After lunch (not included) in the picturesque town of Tenterden, we continue to Bodiam Castle. This archetypal 14th-century moated castle with a ruined interior gives us a glimpse of medieval splendor and boasts an original wooden portcullis, spiral staircases, and battlements. After dinner back at the hotel this evening, we enjoy a fascinating talk by a guest speaker.
- day 5
May 9: Canterbury, Canterbury Cathedral and Whitstable
We start the day in Canterbury. The city has a fascinating history which we learn about on our guided walking tour. We also enjoy a guided tour of Canterbury Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in England, dating back to Norman times. In 1170, Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in the cathedral and ever since, it has been a site of Christian pilgrimage. Our next stop is Whitstable, a picturesque fishing and harbour town on the north coast of Kent, renowned for its fresh oysters and connections
to Charles Dickens. You can enjoy sampling these culinary delights during dinner in a popular local seafood restaurant.
- day 6
May 10: Margate, Sandwich and The Salutation Gardens
This morning we head to the coastal town of Margate. This town epitomises the charm of a classic British seaside resort, with its unspoilt sandy bays, retro shops and a friendly atmosphere. As Margate is also home to a thriving arts community, you may like to browse the Turner Contemporary, a beautiful gallery overlooking the sea. We then head to the historic town of Sandwich. Once a major port, there are still many original medieval buildings dotted around this enchanting town, making it a delight to explore. We continue to The Salutation Gardens in Sandwich, where we enjoy a guided tour followed by lunch. Designed in 1912 by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, the exquisite gardens are divided into a sequence of symmetrical ‘rooms.’ After around 70 years, the gardens sadly fell into disorder, but with a new owner and head gardener at the helm, an extensive restoration project was undertaken in 2005.
- day 7
May 11: Leeds Castle and Godinton House
We visit Leeds Castle, a quintessential moated castle set in 500 acres of glorious parkland, where we enjoy a private guided tour. Dating back to the 12th century, it was once home to Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. The castle’s last private owner was Lady Baillie, an Anglo-American heiress who lovingly restored the castle to its former glory. We discover more of the castle’s fascinating history as well as its wealth of furnishings, paintings, tapestries and antiques on display. Our next stop is Godinton House, a delightful Jacobean house incorporating a medieval hall and ornate carvings where we enjoy a guided tour and lunch. Godinton is a much-loved home where each room reflects the tastes of those who have
lived here with an excellent collection of furniture, art, and curios. We also have time to explore the 12 acres of tranquil gardens, surrounded by ancient parkland.
- day 8
May 12: Down House and Windsor Castle
Our first stop today is Down House, home of scientist Charles Darwin and his family for 40 years. Several rooms have been recreated as they appeared when he lived here including the study where he wrote ‘On the Origin of Species’. The house is surrounded by extensive gardens; Darwin’s ‘outdoor laboratory’. We then visit Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world which is still one of the official residences of Queen Elizabeth II today. Established in the 11th century by William the Conqueror, it has been remodelled
by successive kings and queens and is regularly used for ceremonial and state occasions. The magnificent State Apartments are furnished with some of the finest works of art to admire during our audio guided tour. Later, we check back in to the Castle Hotel Windsor – MGallery, where we enjoy a farewell dinner together.
- day 9
May 13: Departure
A private transfer will take you back to Heathrow airport for your return flight home.
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