South of England Stately Homes & the Isle of Wight
Renowned for its idyllic countryside and stunning coastline, the picturesque South of England is peppered with spectacular estates. Here we uncover captivating stories and treasures contained within properties such as impressive Polesden Lacey and opulent Petworth House. We combine these fascinating discoveries with a trip to the Isle of Wight, a delightful holiday destination popularized in Victorian times. Here we delve into the history of the ‘Garden Isle’ with visits to some of the island’s finest properties including Osborne House, the Italianate seaside retreat of Queen Victoria.
- Pricing from
No single supplement – very limited availability!
- Trip Type
- Group Travel Tour, International Land & Rail Voyages
- Departure Dates
May 12, 2024 - May 22, 2024
Nights One and Nine Macdonald Windsor Hotel
The Macdonald Windsor Hotel is situated in the heart of the historic town of Windsor, opposite the famous Windsor Castle. The classic interiors, with a contemporary edge, fit perfectly with the Georgian elegance of this townhouse hotel. The luxury bedrooms are individually-designed and the hotel also offers a stylish bar and restaurant.
Nights Two to Four – South Lodge Hotel, Horsham
Nights Five to Eight – Royal Hotel, Ventnor (Isle of Wight)
On arrival at Heathrow airport, a private transfer will take you to our overnight hotel, the Macdonald Windsor Hotel. In the evening join the group for a welcome drink, followed by dinner.
Polesden Lacey and Standen
This morning we visit Polesden Lacey, described as a ‘delicious house’ by the Queen Mother on her honeymoon there. This peaceful countryside retreat is most closely connected to Dame Margaret Greville who entertained royalty and the celebrities of her time with lavish parties at the manor, which remains home to her extensive collection of art and ceramics. We also have time to wander the beautiful gardens which boast wonderful views out across the rolling Surrey Hills. Next we visit Standen, one of the finest examples of an Arts and Crafts property, which combines the skills of architect Philip Webb and his friend William Morris. The rooms are decorated with Morris’ wallpapers and textiles with William de Morgan pottery to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere and we discover more on our special guided tour of the house. Later we check in to the South Lodge Hotel, our base for the next three nights.
Parham House and Petworth House
We head to Parham House, an idyllic Elizabethan family home with award-winning gardens. The timeless beauty of the house has changed little over the centuries since the foundation stone was laid in 1557. During the Second World War, Parham became home to 30 evacuee children before being requisitioned for billeting Canadian officers. Outside, the gardens consist of beautiful pleasure grounds, a four-acre walled garden, an orchard, a vegetable garden and a 1920s Wendy house. Immortalized in Turner’s paintings, Petworth House is an impressive estate that combines a deer park landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown with a vast 17th-century mansion, which houses the National Trust’s finest collection of art and sculptures. We enjoy a guided tour of the house and discover masterpieces by the likes of Van Dyck, Reynolds, Blake and Turner himself, displayed in the opulent state rooms and North Gallery.
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
Today we visit the popular seaside resort of Brighton, where we enjoy a guided tour of Brighton Museum & Art Gallery located in the Royal Pavilion Garden. Here we discover exciting displays of history and fine art, combining to tell the story of Brighton and the world we live in today. Afterwards we enjoy lunch together in a local restaurant followed by some free time. Explore Brighton’s unique antique and boutique shopping area in the Lanes or visit the Prince Regent’s lavish Royal Pavilion.
Goodwood House and Southampton Merchant’s House
After checking out of our hotel, we make our way to Goodwood House, built in 1616-17 by the 9th Earl of Northumberland. The family of the Duke of Richmond and Gordon have lived here for over 300 years, dating back to the 1st Duke of Richmond – the illegitimate son of Charles II. We enjoy a guided tour of the Old House and the State Apartments, restored to their original Regency splendor. The current Duke is the founder of the renowned Festival of Speed and the Goodwood Revival Meeting and although the house is famous for its sporting heritage, it also provides a spectacular setting for one of the most significant private art collections in the country. We continue to Southampton, a lovely city steeped in maritime heritage. We visit Merchant’s House where we take in the history of Southampton’s ‘old town’. Built around 1290 by a wealthy wine merchant, the house survived many centuries of domestic and commercial use largely intact and has now been restored to its mid-14th century appearance. From Southampton, we catch the ferry to the Isle of Wight and check in to the Royal Hotel, where we stay for the next four nights. In the evening we are treated to a fascinating talk by a guest speaker.
Today we are treated to a lovely leisurely visit to Osborne House with a guided tour and lunch included. Osborne House was purchased by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1845 as a seaside retreat away from London and Windsor. The Italianate palace reflects Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s tastes and passions, and boasts spectacular views across the Solent. We take an intimate glimpse of royal family life as we wander through the magnificent Royal Apartments as well as the walled gardens and grounds where we find the charming Swiss Cottage, used by the royal children to learn household management.
Carisbrooke Castle & Museum and Isle of Wight Villages
This morning we head to Carisbrooke Castle. Over the centuries Carisbrooke has been an Elizabethan artillery fortress, a prison for a king and a royal summer residence. Visit the museum, walk around the award-winning Edwardian-style garden and admire the panoramic views from the castle walls. The museum was founded by HRH Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter, as a memorial to her husband, Prince Henry of Battenburg, and cares for over 30,000 items connected to the Isle of Wight’s history. In the afternoon we enjoy a scenic drive through some of the Isle of Wight’s most picturesque and charming villages.
Farringford House and Nunwell House & Gardens
Our first visit today is to Farringford House, the home of famous poet Alfred Lord Tennyson. Tennyson lived here from 1853 until his death in 1892, and the house remained in the Tennyson family until 1945. More than half a century later, this dramatic Gothic house has been meticulously restored to its 19th-century splendor to reflect Tennyson’s tastes and lifestyle. We enjoy a guided tour of the house and explore its exciting treasures. Outside, the walled kitchen garden has been lovingly recreated. We continue on to Nunwell House, a beautiful family home since 1522, set in five acres of tranquil gardens with stunning views across the Solent. We enjoy an exclusive visit of the gardens and a historical guided tour of the exterior of this private house, taking us back through time. After refreshments, we have time at leisure to wander around the gardens.
Jane Austen’s House Museum and Watts Gallery
This morning we catch the ferry back to the mainland and head to Jane Austen’s House Museum, the charming house in Chawton where she spent the last eight years of her life. It was in this country cottage where Austen did the majority of her mature writing, including the timeless Pride and Prejudice. We enjoy an introductory talk here before exploring the house and its treasures, including first editions of Austen’s books. We spend the rest of the day at Watts Gallery and Artists’ Village, a building intended to provide ‘art for all’ and finished shortly before artist George Frederic Watts’ death. After major restoration work, the gallery walls are hung with a large selection of Watts’ prolific output. In addition to visiting the gallery, we enjoy a guided tour of the Arts and Crafts chapel, designed by Watts’ wife Mary, followed by refreshments. Later, we return to the Macdonald Windsor Hotel where we enjoy a farewell dinner together.
A private transfer will take you back to Heathrow airport for your return flight home.
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